Tag Archives: distance runner

What’s Up with Some Women

26 Sep

Good evening, lovelies –

My life between the miles has surely kept me busy. My little lovebug is all of 16 months old and let me tell you that we have a future runner girl in the making. She speeds through every adventure. Just running around, laughing, giggling, and playing. Her disposition is incredibly infectious. She is and will always be a reminder to live life with childlike enthusiasm. She silences the peripheral noise and aggravations of difficult people. These days are gold. 

I’ve been running. Repeat. I have been running. I’m logging 25ish miles a week. Pre-mom Valerie would scoff at that number. Mom-Valerie is like…that’s kind of badass. But just kind of. The trouble is me. I can’t commit to waking up at 4a every day to run. If I did I could squeeze in an extra 6-8 miles per alarm buzz. But that snooze button gets me if I didn’t sell myself on the maybe sweat sesh the night before. I don’t often run after work because of the hour and my incessant desire to spend quality time with Oriana before it’s “night night time.” I am all about being present with my family and I have only 2 hours each evening with my little babe to coordinate/make dinner, enjoy bath time, have a mini playtime session, go for a walk, read a book, and then put her down. When 8:30p rolls around I tease myself with the notion to run. But I’m quickly reminded that late night runs put me in an energizer bunny state, so I opt for a glass of Chardonnay. Not always. But more often than I’d like.

While I have some guilt I am finding peace with the balance I have created. Andy and I have no family out here to help us with the day-to-day and considering, we are rocking this parenthood thing! Can I just pick up an go run the next marathon? No. After my recent 17 miler I was reminded I have FAI. I’m 32 but feel like a geriatric post such long distance. This will be cured when I finally have needed surgery (After baby #2. No. I’m not pregnant.). At any time can I go run a half marathon? Damn skippy – yes! There you have it, that’s my balance. I’m always primed to race 13.1 miles. That is me winning at this motherhood thing!!! I may not PR but I can easily run the distance that once upon a time was a challenge.

Speaking of challenge, let’s talk about people. I often get lost in my mind while running. I work out problems and the idiosyncrasies of individuals. This is how I cope. And it’s often a way I manage stress mid-day by exchanging lunch for a run = runch. It helps to dissolve any conflict or ugly emotion. It resets me. 

But back to challenging people…

Why are some women hell-bent on dishonoring our own gender? I am tired of being exposed to this unavoidable casualty. Wake up ladies, there is a code of ethics amongst women and it appears there is a significant need for a reintroduction. I’ve grown tired of callous comments and negativity by which I don’t understand how I’m on the receiving end. Why can’t we mindfully and/or lovingly disagree? I wish there was a way to change this proclivity of female divide that keeps widening. Some women need continuing education on feminism. I want to throw the book at them (in the most kind way). I want to preach “Read it. Breathe it. Reflect. Turn a new page and stand united.” I want to observe women empowering women. 

What really ruffles me is that I am a mother to a daughter. A beautiful little girl who might be disliked by other girls for being uniquely different and alluring because of her ethnic mix plus her aptitude. What’s more aggravating is the ugly truth that beauty and brains is a lethal combination. And because of this truth I know girls will try to hurt her and cut her down out of envy and admiration. It’s ridiculous. Why does admiration have to come at the cost of jealousy? Why are women compelled to break each other down? Why is there reprisal for being different, intelligent, beautiful in both a conventional and unconventional way? I don’t want my daughter to grow up being chastised for being herself. I want to teach her that women are alliances. Emphasis on alliances. We need to enrich these relationships rather than create conflict. Conflict serves no purpose in this context. 

So here I am. I am facing an opportunity dead set at trying to resolve discord. Discord I assure you as it relates to me being me. I know more than I let on. That’s my superpower. I am quirky but for good graces that doesn’t mean I am dense. Because of my role as woman who is now a mother I am responsible to lead by example more than ever before. I have a mini shadow. If Oriana was older and could understand or witness my conversations and interaction how would I act differently? How could I gain favor? 

There is something inherently wrong when women disrespect women. I can’t run this emotion out of my mind. I have a heightened awareness and sensitivity on this topic because of my daughter. We can break the perpetual fallacy that women are superficial and catty but I can’t do it alone. I’ll raise my daughter to know better, to refrain from repressing the feminist movement and to advocate for women with fervor! 

We need to practice decorum. We should learn and teach this from the very beginning of our lives. We must show love and be nurturing. We are all surrounded by extraordinary women who teach us about quiet strength and dignity. Let’s break the narrative that women tear each other down. I promote that we have an obligation to help one another. How do we get the naysayers on our same sheet of music? 

If there’s one thing I can do right it will be to raise my daughter to be kind, respectful, grateful, warm, generous and mindful… If for any reason she is compelled to be anything otherwise antonymous I will encourage her to take it out on the asphalt. To pound the pavement. 

We women run the world (pun intended). Let’s be each others cheerleaders on the same track (of empowerment) and remind ourselves we are running our own unique race. There’s room for civility on every course. We are an exclusive community – we are a brand. 

To my daughter: One day you may read this and if you do I hope I have lead by example. You inspire me daily to be a better person. To practice compassion. To remain present. I love you.

To women (past and present) and those reading this: You teach me daily how to wear all the colors of our multifaceted roles. I respect you. 

Thanks for stopping by,

XO

Valgal

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“And She’s a Mom!”

3 Aug

Yesterday marked my first run after work postpartum. I set out to sweat but also to quickly return home to be with my babes.

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I woke at 4:30a. Bus to metro to work by 6:45a. Returned home at 6p ish. Showered my baby girl with kisses, squishes, and cuddles (a proven test that my lip stain is indeed a stain as there was no evidence of my smooch fest on her cute little cheekies 💋). Little O fell asleep shortly after so the guilt of leaving her for my needed “mommy time” aka “run” didn’t sting so badly. I returned home around 7:30ish to find my little rosebud giggling with daddy. 

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Seriously peeps, coming home is the sweetest gift ever!

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But let’s get real about some things…

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The Monday-Friday grind, the commute, and wanting to spend every waking minute with little O while also training for a marathon, training to get my body back, and making sure my relationship with my better half continues to thrive is a challenge.

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The transition to motherhood has been blissful. But the transition trying to find the time to connect to my mind, body, and soul as well as trying to connect with my partner is nothing shy of a taxing adventure. It’s an adventure plagued by my own heavy guilt (because of societal standards) coupled with the subtle microaggressions from others and the ubiquitous endorsements, advertisements, and stepford-esque wives evangelizing the glory of motherhood and condemning any other activity that taketh your attention away from it. 

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Not all dialogue centered around motherhood is riddled to make you feel guilty. But my point is, some dialogues about motherhood actually reject mothers carrying other roles; thus, rejecting women and the whole feminist evolution. The content strikes me as callous because the words scream to me that when motherhood “ails” women it deviates women from their previous multifaceted construction to that of a singular dimension. We are not one dimensional! It’s as if having a child suddenly diminishes a woman to carrying one title only – a mother. Is that all that is expected from us? Being a mother? Anything on top of that role is an attaboy moment – “She managed that project, delivered her pitch, ran a marathon, and she’s a mom!” Why is there the qualifier, “and she’s a mom!”? What purpose does it serve? We are whole without it. We should not be typecast as if being a mother abates us of all competencies. (Thanks to Lauren Fleshman for pointing that out in her podcast with Dr. Melody Moore.)

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I’m a mom. A new mom! I was a runner first. And people still don’t understand my desire to run, especially post pregnancy because it means I leave the house and my babes after being away all day for work. I think it makes people uncomfortable because they couldn’t fathom leaving the house and their newborn. Maybe it’s a fear of separation anxiety from their baby (I did experience this). Or maybe it’s their fear of being criticized for putting their own needs first. I don’t feel the need to repent for continuing to put my needs first. I’m on call all day and night – a little time etched out of the day for me is reasonable, not selfish.

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Yet I’m criticized on the daily – I’m sure of it. Some days I feel assaulted by negativity because of the opinions of others about how I “mom.” No one explicitly criticizes me but their comments are back-handed. Do you know what I do? I smile and nod. I play dumb. While it’s hard to ignore the undertones of chastisement, I pretend I’m not competent enough to understand their insults because hey, I’m a mom – remember – all competencies were removed with my placenta – part of the deal.

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Why is there this brazen epidemic to mommy-shame? I question if I’m a bad mother because I’m trying to do it all. Intuitively, I know I’m not a bad mother. But yes, I leave the house after working all day to run. And yes, I’m a breastfeeding mom who drinks wine with dinner. At least it’s not the bottle! I’m not a bad mother.

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But do I need to explain myself so that my actions make others feel comfortable? No.

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I still have a commitment to myself while also holding the torch of motherhood. Becoming a mother doesn’t dissolve me of my identity. Rather, it highlights it. 

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So there you have it. In a culture that pretends there is equality among sexes, why is it that we celebrate motherhood but impose insidious maternity leave policies? Why is there gender inequality in the workplace? Why do we celebrate men who become fathers with a pay raise but women who become mothers don’t see that same jump in income? Why is it that our culture preaches women can do it all but then women are ruthlessly assaulted and shamed when they try to {cough cough} and do so successfully? For a culture that is so politically sensitive about the most paltry of matters, why is it so crass towards women and women’s rights? The whole empowering women movement is just a dog and pony show. The kicker, why are some of the hardest critics of women those that share my gender – women? It’s pitiful. We can’t rise when we are anchored down by our own kind! Come on ladies!!! 

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Years of false paradigms have flooded our minds with what it means to be a woman, a wife and a mother. It’s such a narrow definition of success. We should stop expressing concern about a woman’s (a mother’s) well-being because of a false idea of what she should be. 

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I am a woman. A mother. A daughter. A sister. A granddaughter. A niece. A cousin. A wife (soon). A friend. An employee. A runner. A lover of all (especially my Boston terrier, Mika). A pseudo chef. A wine lover – bring on the Malbec. A tequila nut. A frozen gummy bear spaz. A book worm – I can never have enough books. A terrible singer. A shoe fanatic. A luster of the new Garmin Fenix 3. A woman who loves dressing up my sass but equally loves to be accessorized in sweat. Whether I’m in stilettos or my laces are tied, in conference rooms, or starting lines, or singing lullabies, you can’t define me. I don’t fit in a box. 

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And so, I will continue to defy the norm. I invite you to do so as well. If you’re reading this and you are a mother, I ask that you acknowledge that you are more than just that, albeit being a mother is a privilege and a gift! The only qualifier I want referencing me as a mom is, “and she’a badass motherrunner” – because let’s get one thing straight, I’m am!

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Thanks for stopping by!

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XO

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Valgal, badass motherrunner 

A New Affair 

19 Jul

Hello lovelies,

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Notice anything different?!.

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Other than me not having a baby bump?!?

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The shoes!!! Meet Brooks Launch 3!!!

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That’s right friends, #badass #motherrunner was running on clouds today. Clouds of comfort! I literally had an extra spring to my step for push-off and it gave me amazing energy return! For real though!!! Plus, their ultra light and perfect for me (I’m a neutral runner). I’m in love. .

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Newton, we’ve covered a lot of distance over our 4 year courtship, but your discount code for me has since expired and your 5 lugs just don’t comfort me like the 4. You will be my first love, and I will continue to be a fan, and even wear you for feelings of wild-eyed marathon training nostalgia of the past (I have quite the collection)…But let it be known you’ve got some fierce competition these days! And I’m thinking it’s time for a new affair…#runnergirl

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Today marked my marathon training’s request of an easy 3 mile run – which was totally hard to do because I wanted to rocket through my run with these new badass kicks!!! But hey, I’m following protocol – and that’s a first!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

First Week of Marathon Training Postpartum

16 Jul

Hello lovelies!!!

Happy Saturday – woot woot! Today marked my longest run postpartum – 8 miles at an easy pace – averaging 7:52/min. My lungs and legs felt fresh. Granted, I could have definitely welcomed speed, but for first time ever, I’m following a marathon training schedule and it told me to go easy. Yup! This mama is ready to BQ!!! And with training I hope to shed the baby weight too. ..

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The hardest part of marathon training post baby so far has been to be patient with miles and time because let’s face it, during pregnancy we’re told not to: run for too long, not to elevate our heart rate, not to exert too much energy etc…Therefore, running for long periods of time is new again – my mental training to tackle distance is lacking. The second challenge is running in between feeding sessions – I’m always racing against my milk coming in 😂. .

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Anyway, I really wanted to go faster and/or longer today but I took a step back and told myself that I am committed to embracing the marathon program that promises speed. If I could run a Mary before (or 3), then I can definitely run one again 🙌🏼!!! I mean shoot, I only missed Boston by 4 minutes before while having bronchitis – perhaps I’m closer after baby? Either way I’m loving the journey! First week of 12 ✔️ done and done! .

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Hello, #Boston! I’m coming for you!!! 💙💛 #bq

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Thanks for stopping by! XO.

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Valgal 


Old Wives’ Tales Gender Prediction 

24 Dec

Good morning, lovelies –

Merry Christmas Eve!!! Today my little framily is driving to Wisconsin to visit our parents. Little Mika-chan, our adorable, lovable Boston terrier who can’t get enough play time or cuddles, Andy aka Baby Daddy, our little 5 month macaroon in mama’s belly and I are all cozy in our car for the 13 hour trek. Now granted, what should be a 13 hour drive is likely to be 15+ hours because this pregnant mama has a bladder like her puppy – I just can’t hold it!
As we are driving, conversing over our upcoming move to our fabulous new digs, discussing the preparation of baby girl (oh emmmmmm geeeee we are having a girl!!!), and listening to talk radio address a myriad of topics such as: the most painful place to get a bee sting (I got it right – although I’ve never been stung), politics, gun control, sports, sports, sports, I decided to blog. Why not? It’s not like there’s enough entertainment in this small shared space. I blame my short attention span on preggie brain.
 
And preggie brain wants me to cover the topic of Old Wives’ Tales Gender Prediction.
I bring this up because since discovering I was pregnant I continually surfed the net for telltale signs of what baby macaroon is. 

An overwhelming majority of data suggested baby macaroon was a boy. Not to mention 85% of friends, family, and co-workers speculated that baby was a boy too. I didn’t know how or why. I didn’t start to “show” until earlier this week and I’m not carrying high or low. Friends say my “showing” looks like I ate a hefty burrito from Chipotle. And baby, that burrito is just chilling like a brick in my stomach as if I literally ate Chipotle. 
Anyway, let’s delve into 10 Gender-Predicting Old Wives’ Tales! 
1.) How Low Can You Go?
If I’m carrying high? Girl.
If I’m carrying low? Boy.
Me: I’m wasn’t showing when I first looked into this. I’m still not showing enough! This is Bologna. Baby prediction: Inconclusive.
2.) Body Clues
Legends say that if I’m having a little girl, she’ll steal my beauty. So, if I’ve got acne and other not-so-pretty skin blemishes, I’ve got a little princess coming my way.
Dry hands and cold feet are signs of a boy. So, if I’ve got these ailments, I should break out the baby blue.
Me: Hmm. First and foremost, I never really had acne. I get sporadic whiteheads I attribute to my insatiable appetite for the sweat game – running! I believe in sweating at least an hour a day! This pregnancy has me sweating a little less often but needless to say, I sweat! So my so-called acne has been no less no more the same.
Also, I just began using a new a.m. and p.m. facial routine with Philosophy products. Holy moly I love, love, love this new beauty routine. My “glow” isn’t from pregnancy. It’s from these products that stimulate skin rejuvenation. I’ve never felt more beautiful sans makeup! I believe these products have helped to reject acne during my pregnancy, too. I was and continue to feel beautiful.
My feet have been colder than ever and my hands remain the same, soft with bouts of dry. This is because I wash dishes by hand, without gloves, all the time. But if I were to take Body Clues literally…
Baby prediction: Boy.
3.) The Ring
I’m supposed to grab that wedding ring of mine and see how it swings! 
If it swings in a circle, we would be promised a girl; back and forth little macaroon would be a boy.
Oh shoot, what wedding ring? You see, Andy and I are not your traditional type. If you’ve read my blog from the beginning, you know I was always a bit obstinate to follow the traditional yellow brick road path to “happiness.” I rejected the idea. Then I felt guilty and hopped on the LSD fantasy hoping to find euphoria in Emerald City with the ring, the marriage, and the white picket fence. But my mood-altered state found me unfaithful to myself. 
I made some hard decisions. I ditched Emerald City and consequently I was labeled the Tin Man, “If I only had a heart.”
The irony is, I followed my heart. My heart led me to my sweetheart. And now I have two hearts that beat for him within me. There may be no wedding ring but our love is in its purest state. He is all I needed for spiritual redemption. 
So my sweetheart and I grabbed my grandmother’s beautiful gold ring arguably equivocal to the unconditional love that a wedding ring should represent. We tied it to a piece of string, and hung it over my non-existent belly.
Me: The ring swung back and forth. Baby Prediction: Boy.
4.) One of my favorite songs is by Sting, “Be Still My Beating Heart.” 
If baby’s little heart rate is under 140 beats per minute (bpm) it means mommy and daddy are having a little boy. If it’s over, daddy’s going to have a daddy’s girl!
Me: Ultrasound 1 – Heart rate 165bpm.

Ultrasound 2 – Heart rate 160bpm.

Fetal Doppler – Heart rate 155bpm.

Ultrasound 3 – Heart rate 147bpm.
Baby Prediction: Girl.

5.) “Craving-In”
The Old Wives’ Tale preaches that if I crave sweets it means I’m going to have a little girl. If I crave salty and sour we are welcoming a baby boy.
Now this one is interesting. Again, if you’ve been reading my blog as a friendly stopper byer (did I just make up a word?), or if you know me as a close friend, co-worker, family member, or if I’m someone that you used to know, then you clearly recognize that my palate for sweet and sour remains the exact same as it did when I was 8 years old jumping up and down, doing flips on the trampoline and into the pool, fueled on nothing but Fun-Dip and sour ropes! Yup. That’s still me when I “crave-in” to my sweet tooth. Pregnant or not. 
I have had no real cravings that I can acknowledge other than: I prefer fizzy drinks like sparkling grapefruit water. I like things extra-spicy. Call me dragon-breath. I equally love a small handful of frozen gummy bears (grapefruit gummy bears are my favorite) or sour gummy bears. I enjoy pickle juice. But pickle juice isn’t new. Being pregnant is an excuse to drink it without judgment. Plus it’s great for distant runners because research proves it helps to alleviate cramps. And like always, I could seriously live off of fruit. My favorites have now become staples in my diet and must-haves every. single. day. They are: grapes – any variety without seeds; kiwi – oh my gosh kiwi!!! Mmmm; apples drizzled with honey and a dash of salt; and oranges.

Me: Baby Prediction: Inconclusive. Mama bear likes it all! But what does spicy mean?  

6.) Chinese Prediction Chart
Chinese birth charts use my age at conception and the month I conceived to determine the sex of baby macaroon. 
This one is funny because it is claimed to be 90% accurate. Considering my age of conception, I used both 29 and 30 because we just don’t know! It was my 30th birthday celebration for close to one week. Champagne. Wine. Dinner. Dessert. Wink. Wink.
Me: Regardless of age of conception being 29 or 30. Baby prediction: Boy.
7.) Morning Sickness
The tale says that if I was stricken with a queasy stomach during my first trimester to think ribbons and bows. If I sailed through my pregnancy I should be dreaming blue.
Me: Sick. Sicker. Sickest. All. Day. Plus vomiting. Queasy. Tired. Vomiting again. Baby prediction: Girl.
8.) The Linea Nigra
This is that ‘dark line’ that has appears on the baby bump. It is apparently the key to working out whether I’m carrying a boy or a girl. Rumor has it that if the line continues above my belly button, I’m having a baby boy. If it finishes below my belly button, I have a baby girl bun in my oven. 
Me: My lovely baby bump has a faint dark line that extends above my belly button. Baby prediction: Boy.
9.) The Dreaded Weight Gain
According to the Old Wives’ Tale, if I’m carrying all of my extra weight out front, baby is a boy. If my pregnancy pounds are piling on all around me, I’m expecting a daughter. Also, if my breasts are growing, I should expect a girl. If my breasts remain the same, I’m welcoming a boy.
Me: My mother recently asked me to look at my ass naked. I abided and started laughing! She said, “Val, does it look the same?” I responded, “Yup. Same ol’ small ass. You can’t mistake me for a Brazilian from behind, shucks!” Mom laughs, “Well then sweetheart, you must be having a boy!”
A little about my weight gain. I’m currently 19 weeks and 4 days. I swear it wasn’t until a few days ago when my bump became a permanent accessory. I didn’t gain an ounce during the first trimester. To date, I’m up 7 lbs. (please remember not to compare. I’m very active and baby is very healthy!) No joke, most of my weight is in my tatats. These melons are HEAVY!!! I could knock someone out. And my back is killing me! Owwwweee! I would’ve never imagined my breasts would get this large and they are still growing!!! Shit! But as far as where my weight has distributed elsewhere from my bosoms… I’m slowing losing my waist, and the bump is growing outward rather than wide, for now. 

Baby prediction: Boy.
10.) Baby Names
The tales claim that if I (we) can only think of specific names for a boy or a girl, we will have that particularly baby. 

Me: Andy and I immediately came up and solidly agreed on a girls name. It was so natural. Contrastly, we went back and forth on the topic of boys names. So many of them are so banal (insert yawn). But after revisiting our list a few dozen times we selected a boy name that resonated with us. Baby prediction: Girl.

 

Let’s talk about the Old Wives’ Tales Gender Prediction results. Baby is all over the gender map! 

Baby Prediction: Boy – 5
Baby Prediction: Girl – 3
Baby Prediction: Inconclusive – 2
While I was convinced Andy and I were having a baby boy because of all the noise people echoed in my ear and the gender prediction results, we were and continue to be overwhelmed with incandescent happiness that we are welcoming a baby girl in May 2016!!! She is already just like mommy and daddy challenging the standards (gender predictions)!
I have made several decisions that do not follow “the system of tradition.” To keep the streak going, we introduce you to smiling Oriana Teresa Shreeve. Yup, we are sharing her name! She already has our hearts. She is, quite literally, our Golden Sunrise!
  
What was your experience with Old Wives’ Tales Gender Predictions? Were they accurate? Please share! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by! 
Now it’s back to the car ride! I think it’s about time for my shift!
XO
Valgal, and baby girl Oriana aka Ori-chan! 
*Chan expresses “cute” for little girls in Japanese! 

Intro – Running for Two: From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby

4 Nov

Hello lovelies!

Welcome to the newest addition to my blog – Running for Two: From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby!

Woweee!!! Here I am closing in on the last week of my first trimester. I am 12 weeks and 2 days pregnant with 194 days to go until we get to meet our little macaroon! We are officially due May 15, 2016! I am amazed. Thrilled. Entirely enraptured by the uncertainty of it all!

Upon discovery of being pregnant I scoured through literature about running and pregnancy. I found your typical books with your typical advice: keep your heart rate below 140 (crock of poo poos); go slow; reduce mileage; reduce intensity; etc. [Insert big yawn]

I wanted literature from veteran runners who have been at this very crossroad I am faced with.

Talk about cravings. I was craving literature that wasn’t written and influenced by an aged wrinkly man who hasn’t seen a woman’s anatomy since 1973 unless he google’d the free videos on his phone [cough cough] I mean mega iPad and watched it magnified at the bagillionth degree possible. No. I wanted literature written by, co-written by or edited by elite women runners who understand hormones, fatigue and their own body and how it plays an active or not so active role in their workout regimes during pregnancy – especially for the particular energy-annihilating, ruthless and impetuous hormones that rule over my morning sickness and desire to sleep that is the first trimester.

I was searching for honesty about the sport from women to women. I wasn’t looking for the retro housewife tales of daily housekeeping that dictate I should be a “wife”, cook, laundress, cleaner, dishwasher, nurse and hostess but most definitely not an athlete.

Newsflash: I’m pregnant. I’m in the magical misery of the first trimester where admission for two is wrecking havoc on all of my cognitive functions. How ever does current literature expect me to be a wife, cook, laundress, cleaner, dishwasher, nurse and hostess on top of also being a full-time employee (in a career I’m captivated by), a master’s student and an athlete? Something has got to give and I tell you what – it isn’t the latter three.

Anyway, I found NO substantial literature. Zilch. It all felt outdated and lacking charisma. I am not interested in jogging to keep fit – I’m interested in running to Boston qualify (BQ). Now that I’m pregnant I’m interested in maintaining a routine that will afford me the agility to bounce back to BQ training post-pregnancy. I don’t want a book about “how-to” perform a casual light jogging stroll through the park while (get this) maintaining a low heart rate. Shit!!!! Do you know me? Tell me fro-yo is on the menu somewhere today and I’ll get giddy over adorning my ménage of flavors with sprinkles and gummy bears – that alone will spike my heart rate to 140+! And you want me to take it easy doing a light stroll? Riiiight.  Call me a running snob – a nickname given to me by a good friend but a light stroll doesn’t cut it. I need to sweat from the sport that is running. I’m cognizant that I am pregnant and my body must slow down. I want to ensure I’m being safe with my goals and that’s why I searched for books that broach the topic. I even poured through running blogs and stumbled upon a few I enjoyed which has brought me to write my own.

FRO-YO yummy!

FRO-YO yummy!

So there it is, the long and short of it. I will be blogging about my experiences Running for Two: From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby. Please note that I am not an expert (no way no how), I am not a dietitian, a nutritionist, a coach etc. I am simply a first-time pregnant 30 year-old woman who wants to share this journey with you in the event you’re as lost as I am. This is simply the truth of my experiences that I am sharing with you. I hope you find that it is amusing, inspiring, relatable, elemental, and conventional. Most importantly, I hope you find this as a source of comfort and unification in knowing that you are not alone in this uncomfortable, awkward, exciting, beautiful, interesting, uncertain transformational experience. I’m right here with ya!

So here we are…we’re pregnant! Congratulations!!!!!!!

Stay tuned for the trials of the first trimester!

Thanks for stopping by!!!

XO

Valgal and little macaroon

From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby

31 Oct

Hello lovelies!

Typical me, I’ve been silent. Very. Very. Quiet. But that’s only because I have big news. BIG. NEWS.

As of late I’ve been struggling with my running goals and all the aches and pains that are a part of the package. As you know I’ve been chasing Boston. I was only 4 minutes off from Boston Qualifying last October at the Marine Corps Marathon and that was ONLY, stress ONLY, because I had bronchitis. I finished feeling bad to the A double S. I mean seriously, I was badass having had just run 26.2 miles sicker than sick. Talk about a needed rest day starting once I crossed the finish line.

Fast forward to March 2015 when chasing Boston was going to become a reality. The rain was pouring. My training partner, my Newton Distance Elite shoes weighing all of 6.2 ounces, felt like cement blocks as they sloshed through the puddles and absorbed all the water. My clothes added additional weight to my light frame. Having trained in nearly nothing as far as running attire didn’t fare well. I was suddenly carrying extra weight from the wet clothes and my body was working harder than ever exerting extra energy to try to keep me warm from the feeling of the arctic cold. Regardless of the waves of heavy rain and sweat I was flying. Nothing would stop me from chasing Boston and getting that BQ. I marveled at my madness. I was badass. Then I met mile 17. Mile 17 was the mile marker that crushed my dreams for the Boston Marathon in 2016. The crushing sensation of my right hip paralyzed me. I couldn’t hobble. I couldn’t walk. I was at a dead stop. I stood there panicked and frozen. The rain wasn’t a baptism for enlightenment, it was a revelation that chasing Boston would go on a temporary hold. What kind of redemption is that? I didn’t feel renewed or rejoiced. I felt old. Decrepit. Unworthy of Boston because I couldn’t push through the pain. I felt like a loser. My dreams were only 9.2 miles away – chump change really.

After facing the reality that Boston was out of sight I had to face another reality – that my right hip needed some serious TLC from all my neglect. I scheduled physical therapy. It didn’t work. I always heard and felt the crushing sensation and the pop, pop, pop. Surgery was the only remedy if I wanted to chase Boston.  The other alternative was to give up running. Hmmm. No chance. I signed the dotted line obliging to surgery and all the post-surgery recovery shenanigans that promised me a long 6-9 month recovery before I could legitimately run again. Not jog. I mean run. Oy!

I was mentally preparing for the surgery to ensure Boston would be in my future. I was thinking a BQ in 2016 for the 2017 slot was manageable. Sure it’s a lofty goal but if anyone could do it it was me. I am 100% unyielding to hit any benchmark I set for myself. I shortened my distance and revved up my pace. I was running no more than 13.1 miles on the weekend and averaging 6 miles Monday-Friday. The speed came fast. The quicker my speed the more efficient my form which lessened the agonizing pain in the right hip. I felt like a rockstar.

Labor Day weekend arrived reminding me I only had a few weeks left of running prior to the daunting surgery that I often posted about. My partner and I visited my folks in Chicago for this holiday weekend to celebrate my 30th and my dad’s 20th something 30th. After a host of what could go wrong going wrong, our last minute road trip of 12 plus hours through the night had us arrive at their doorstep at 7am. Instead of shaking the fatigue with a nap, I fought the exhaustion by hitting the gym. Hard. I ran 6 miles  at 6:54 average pace. Hot diggity dog!!!

I felt revitalized. I had no pangs of pain. I started stressing that these runs would be few and far between and that all my training efforts would wither away. But I pressed forward maintaining a state of denial that surgery was someday not in 2 short weeks.

Newsflash: 30 and hip surgery … how old am I?

This particular holiday weekend I indulged in martinis, champagne, chardonnay, tequila, oysters, sushi, and everything I love (in moderation). We celebrated my dad’s birthday with mine the only way we know how, with a bang! We even enjoyed a jazz band at a local spot named Andy’s Jazz Club and Restaurant. The coincidence. The energy in the rhythm and blues was exceptional! It was surreal. I buzzed around with a glow all weekend long.

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I was buzzing from a few fast runs, great company, delicious food and a little or a lot of bubbly.

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But was the glow was more than that? After a few indirect jokes that I was pregnant, I decided to find out for myself.

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And what would you know…I was pregnant indeed! GLOWING!!! The test said to wait 3 minutes for results but that positive sign lit up like Rockefeller Center’s Christmas Tree Lighting. It took only a matter of seconds. I was 100% pregnant.

I had and continue to have irrepressible pleasure in knowing that I am going to be a mother. And better yet, a mother to a child with the man who has chosen to forgive me my past and me his, while we breeze forward in the currents of our renewed love. I already felt in the moment of the raw unexpectedness of it all that I was (am) connected to something bigger and better than myself.

I’m trying to put it all into words but I can’t explain how I was feeling. My emotions were high and low.

I was high from the reality of being pregnant with the man that I fell for some 15 years prior. Our journey is one for the books if you haven’t figured it out.

I was low because I just partook in everything you’re not supposed to eat and drink when you’re pregnant. I couldn’t fight the crocodile tears when I shrieked to my mother, “Mooooom, I ate sushi and oysters and oh my gosh I had chardonnay last night!!! Mom, what did I do! Oh no, I even ran, ran too fast for baby…” All kinds of irrational thoughts polluted my mind.

But with a maternal bear hug from my mother who’s eyes-filled with delight, hope, life, love and light, I knew I’d be okay. She calmed my nerves and helped me celebrate again about the miracle that was happening – reminding me of the miracle of life and our journey through it.

To save you from reading on about the emotional bandwagon that I experienced and continue to experience, let’s just say, surgery is postponed for a while (reason for the silent updates on how it went).

I went from chasing Boston to what we now call chasing baby. I might not BQ these next few years but clearly God thinks I’m mama qualified.

It’s funny how we have dreams for plans but we put a cap on them. Bigger dreams unbeknown to us by a greater power trump what we thought was all we could expect from ourselves. I may not be chasing Boston today, but chasing baby sure does sound a whole lot sweeter and gratifying.

So that’s that big news!!!

I plan on blogging my way through what’s it’s like and what it’s been like running for two. Here’s a hint: the first trimester is no joke. Exhaustion X Exhaustion. 20 hours of sleep isn’t enough. Crying crocodile tears because you can’t sing although you knew this your whole 30 years but suddenly having the revelation that you’re as bad, if not worse than Sofia Vergara’s singing a lullaby puts you in tailspain. Vomiting. More vomiting. New development of motion sickness. 9p bedtimes. 8:30p bedtimes.

Aside from all that, let me introduce you to our growing family.

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Our little athlete will debut May 2016.

Our Little Athlete Debuts May 2016

Our Little Athlete Debuts May 2016

Stay tuned for what it’s like running for two!

Thank gosh the first trimester is one week shy of being finito!!! Amen.

Thanks for stopping by.

XO

Valgal and the little Macaroon

The C Word – Commitment 

19 Sep

Hello lovelies.

I‘ve yet again fallen silent due to the circumstances that be – but I’m breaking the silence regardless of the impeding D not being finalized.


Ahhh. Rest assured for those of you who troll my social media outlets to see what I make of you, your sordid homage to my past and what I am doing today…keep scrolling…


With that, let me provoke you to think of the C word – commitment.


What comes to mind? A nauseated wave of fear or excitement?!


I hover over the edge of both.


However, when it comes to me I’m all in. Always. I am 100% vested in my commitment to myself.

Don’t misconstrue this as selfish. It just means I always bet on myself. I know my goals, what I love, and what I can and cannot tolerate to name a few. I’m committed to self-acceptance, forgiveness, and growth. I’m committed to healing and to loving wholly. I’m committed to leaving the ghosts of my past in the past for that ghost ship has long sailed. May it drift toward their own destinies of happiness without causing an undercurrent in mine.

 

When it comes to running, I am committed to doing my personal best. Shiny finisher medals are fabulous but I don’t need them to keep me on track. They are merely a collection of the trials of mental grit that I’ve pushed through. They are reminders that I can commit to difficult things.


What does influence me? My commitment for A PR (personal record) baby!!! I continue to focus on becoming the best version of myself on the track by pushing myself outside the boundaries of my comfort zone. Sometimes I am mortified by my inability. Sometimes I’m stoked by just that.

 

Every individual perceives they are capable of only so much when “so much” is so little. Stop underestimating your abilities! You have to realize you can outperform all obstacles. You have to divorce negative thoughts to get through the barriers and get that PR on and off the course. It takes vigilant effort. Every. Single. Day.

 

Failure happens. A bruised ego and time only makes you better. It takes falling on your ass and a little self-pity. Then you dry your eyes and buckle down. Smile when the shitstorm hits hard. Pillage through the fallout and find meaning in the destruction. Refuse to play victim. Create a mantra “So what [I] failed at meeting [my] lofty PR. So what [I] failed at [my] marriage.”

Consider failure as a right of passage. Success often ensues after the chaos.

 

Reject the notion that hardships and disappointments harden you. They don’t. They make you someone of substance. Humility should help you aspire for more. Welcome your bruises. Find beauty in your scars. They are reminders of how far you’ve traveled.

 

And I have traveled. 2400 miles from home to the unknown. 26.2 miles on foot x 2 plus training. I have a commitment to running and to outperform my own self in all things. I will crush the wall that stands before me. I am committed to that.

 

Back to a finisher’s medal…what does it symbolize?

The finisher’s medal is delayed gratification. It represents the commitment of hours you spent training and investing in the race. The finisher’s medal symbolizes personal triumph to finish a preposterous goal! It is the ultimate reward for the sweat, tears, and perspiration for the countless hours of logging miles, the long days, the restless nights, the gruesome aches, the blistered feet, the abominable ice baths, mental fatigue, self-doubt, etc. The finisher’s medal is an adornment that highlights your commitment to be badass. It meets you with incessant compassion reminding you that you can commit to hard things.


Hard things. Hard things like marriage…

 

On the topic, what the does a ring symbolize in marriage? In some cases, repeat some, the ring is instant gratification for delayed discontentment – the stark contrast of a finisher’s medal. It meets a partner with incessant excitement until the newness and shine fade. Note:  Only for some individuals is this true.


Does the ring really mean commitment? Or is it a premature gesture that silently foreshadows that you are now committed to the aforementioned in running: countless hours of [insert here (e.g. annoying reality t.v., YouTube clips, sports center, horrible grade D movies, soap operas, American idol, complaining, loneliness, etc.)], restless nights, gruesome aches, blistered feet, ice baths (you kinky thang), mental fatigue, self-doubt etc.?


No one tells you that the ring is a premature promise to put in the work that goes into a marriage.


Imagine getting a finisher’s medal at the starting line of a race just like you get a ring at the beginning of becoming a Mr. And Mrs. Are you imagining? Does it not dilute the effort you’d put in for a PR? Does the ring do the same thing? Does it not dilute the effort you’d ordinarily put into the relationship because well now, you “got em on lockdown!!!”? Note: I know not all people think this way – I don’t.


Don’t get me wrong, the commitment of marriage and the sanctity of a ring is indeed beautiful. But the ring shouldn’t be a reward because you think you earned it. It shouldn’t mean that just because you invested time and energy into the relationship that it is owed to you. That makes it lose the dazzle and compassion of commitment before the journey even begins. The excitement should be the journey – not the brilliant shine of your carat(s).


It doesn’t mean that you’re free to engage in poor behavior either. It doesn’t mean you now have an easy pass to let yourself go. The ring should symbolize your commitment to work at your marriage every day. You don’t stop working at it just because you say “I do.” You work through every day by putting your best foot forward while accepting that at times your best foot forward has you performing at your worst.


“Worst” is objective. A ring should not be a commitment to stay by your partner’s side if their worst performance makes you feel trapped in a horrible rendition of Groundhog’s Day. Freelancing with anger and refusing personal accountability for actions is unacceptable.


Commitment is more than accepting someone’s worst. It’s recognizing you also deserve the best. It’s knowing how to distinguish the difference.


You have to be committed to yourself. Undress your mind of the boilerplate bullshit. The status quo is too ordinary. You’re not ordinary. Commit to loving yourself. If you break a commitment and you start looking for that decree, own it. Don’t muddle it up with excuses. Practice humility. Breathe. Accept it.


No one intentionally breaks commitments because they want to. Just like you don’t run a race looking to perform half-assed. Stay committed to run your own race. Own your detours. The race that is your dream for plans belongs to you. Zig and zag to dodge the unnecessary. It may take you longer to get to your destiny but you will get there. You might unintentionally break a few hearts along the way. Note: This doesn’t make you a bad person. But don’t break your own heart by committing to something you feel and know is inherently wrong. Commit yourself to your own happiness! You might break a few commitments along the way but so long as you didn’t break the commitment to yourself to be true, you are living authentically.


Don’t let the race cause you discomfort. This is your story.


My story is littered with failure. I’m comfortable with it. I accept that I fail on the track. Miserably. I can put my best foot forward but at times it renders me sub-par. Sub-freaking par!!! I beat myself up over it. I know it’s part of the training but it still hurts. The sheer disappointment glaring at me on my Garmin. Ugh. I want to tell it to go to hell for mocking me. But it’s part of growth. It’s part of self-acceptance. You can’t always be on your A-game.

Off the course, in something called marriage, I’ll admit I was always sub-par. A-game? I didn’t even know what that looked like. No kidding. I tried to put my best foot forward but it left me bruised. I was clumsy with my needs. My wants. My expectations. I hadn’t constructed any of this. I was blind. Not always by any fault other than my own. Other times by no fault of my own.


I hear muddled truths married with blatant lies about what went badly amiss in my commitment to my nuptials. But they were my nuptials. I know went happened. 


Newsflash: I admit to failure. This is self-acceptance. I’m brave enough to accept the folklore.

 

To counter the nonsense, I commit to fall deaf to wicked tongues. I do this because I am committed to credibility. You must consider the source. Sing that song by Big Sean, “I don’t fuck with you”. Let it resonate. Repeat.

 

I’m looking for a commitment that is long-term. Do you know what that looks like? It means I’m betting on myself.



Until then I’ll continue to race past the finish lines for the bright jewel that is a finisher’s medal. It always meets me with equal compassion. The finisher’s medal holds no expectations of me and doesn’t whisper empty promises. Instead it consoles me and my spirit while gloating about how badass I am. I had the diamond ring. It didn’t do any of that.

 

I’m committed to my own happily ever after.

 

Until next time…

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Happy running!

 

Love the life you live. It’s your race.

 

Valgal

 

XO

Hit It

18 Jul

Hello lovelies!

I hope you’re all doing well! 

As you know I’ve been struggling with a right hip labral tear. It nearly broke my spirit during my third marathon when I was paralyzed by the pain at mile 17. Well here I am, after taking a month off of running in April, I have been running – hard and fast.  I’ve been balancing both its pleasure and its pain. I’ve been going against the doctor’s order as I gave in to my drug – running…inhaling its intoxicating sensation that clears my mind. 

I’ve been experiencing the glorious high on the daily. It’s vapors envelope me. It frees my mind of the clutter-all the crap that tries to kill my vibe. It’s a major buzzkill when I worry about those who speculate my actions. That’s why I turn to running-injured and all. I strike my Newtons on the rubber of the asphalt and burn the pages of their empty threats that haunt my mind and smoke it. This is a running high intensified by another high-the high of self-awareness, self-actualization, freedom and release of negativity.

Does it make since that some people want to rationalize someone else’s actions? My actions at that? Newsflash: My actions are my own. Like running, I don’t follow the status quo. I’m not conventional. And I don’t accept convenient truths. Convenient truths threaten abilities, stagnate growth, limit opportunities, and confine you to the barriers you build in your mind as a result of the cautious and/or sour tongues of others. Perhaps they need to take a hit, stand back, and watch you defy them.

The convenient truths that fall off the tongues of doctors urging me to quit running altogether are cautious words of advice (one day I may kick myself in the rear for ignoring them)! Other convenient truths tell me to work on a failed marriage. It’s all smoke and mirrors. I’d like to roll it up and light it-slowly inhaling the air of freedom that is finally upon me and exhale the vapors of persecution, hypocrisy, lies, jealousy, limitations and barriers.

Some truths are hard to inhale. The smoke is heavy and equally toxic. The truth could burn you if don’t build a tolerance to accept it let alone acknowledge it. Some people should aim to self-reflect daily. It’s a simple task. Look in the mirror and ask yourself to be honest. The revelations might feel heavy-like breathing in thick smoke or quicksand. Take it all in. Breathe in. Exhale. Slowly. Feel completely paralyzed by the pain. The pain like I had. (My pain is twofold-my hip and the truth that is untold.) Your high should reveal that I never concealed my needs, wants, and vexation. I never used arcane language. I was clear. Transparent. True. I smoked that serum and hit it hard every day.

My disappointment isn’t in the failure, it’s in the convenient truth which is the bullshit cloud cover obscuring what lies beneath – the whole truth. 

My disappointment in my hip is in the convenient truth as well. There are no other angles to this bottom line. The convenient truth happens to be the inconvenient truth. There’s no obscurity. The surgery well help me forge ahead. I will get that BQ. Que sera sera. 

Pain is pain. Pain in the heart, pain in the hip, a pain in your ass…the pain eventually dissipates like the vapors. It’s one in the same. Smoke it and let it penetrate you. Feel it. Embrace it. Accept it. And then exhale the bullshit. My spirit is not broken. I am not paralyzed anymore by the pain to the degree I was. I want to be honest with things. Honesty is not a common drug – shit, it’s not even recreational these days…but it should be. I suggest you hit it. Be happy. Live your truth. Be absorbed by your experiences and grow from the pain. It’s only an injury. Be it the heart, the hip, your disappointment…go forward. 

And this is me going forward. Monday I have an appointment with my surgeon…ahhhh!!!

Happy weekend and happy running you fabulous people!

Now, because I don’t smoke, I’m going to go hit that tequila. One shot will do!

Remember, “Suffering is an extraordinary teacher!” -Ryan Hall 

    
   
Thanks for stopping by.

XO

Valgal 

Insecurity and Trust Issues 

26 May

Hey lovelies!

I hope you had a lovely Memorial weekend!!! 

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” 

Thank you to all who serve and who have served for our Country-you and your families are beyond selfless and we are beyond indebted to you. May god bless and watch over you and your families. 

Today I ran for you: 5.27 miles strong at a 7:05/mile!!!

Wohoo!!!!

Anyway, I write this with shaky breath as I reflect on recent events. 

You see I recognize I’m a pain in the ass. I have the capacity to love intensely both everything and anyone I put my interest in. Running is one of those things. But running doesn’t criticize and belittle me making me feel less whole. Running gives me a different pain-a beautiful pain. It elevates my spirit with its capacity to fully break and bruise my ego while promising me it won’t. 

Running promises me that there will be a struggle each time I set out. It’s strengthens me for the race! It helps prepare my mind for crossing that finish line. I know that the race, in all its exhaustive breaths, will be worth finishing despite the obstacles peppered throughout. However, it is that last leg when you’re presented with the hardest challenge. It’s that last sprint when the finish line is in sight and your lungs are burning, pleading you to stop and you flirt with the idea because now, despite it all, all you want is to throw in the towel…because you’re suddenly overcome with insecurities and trust issues littering your mind with thoughts that you can’t carry yourself anymore…the weight of it all, the pressure of it all, while knowing this is the very goal that has been all you ever wanted now feels too heavy and burdensome…but you keep moving forward…praying your hip doesn’t give out and hoping the finish line greets you with equal input of pushing through the barriers.

Is this the same kind of love I’m seeking off the course? Am I seeking love that has the capacity to break me? Or can it promise me to break the barriers-some of which I created myself?

This love has its own story. 

The shaky breath that leaves my lungs begs for its next to give me life. But the breaths have become shallow and distant leaving me asthmatic and shaky. The very breath also gives me a nauseated wave of disbelief. Disbelief that I am broken-my hip among other things. 

Am I broken with insecurity or is it trust? Is it both?

Am I too insecure to take it to the next level? Or to insecure to let myself heal (surgery)? Or am I lacking in trust that I can’t take it to the next level? And lacking in trust that I can’t be as good as I once was?

I have recently been swept away with enthusiasm over my recently clocked speed and the familiar passion of my love affair with running-especially after time off!!! But I’m equally swept away with fear that it could be fleeting. 

Again, what is this? Insecurity, trust, or both? Can I do the distance? Does everything good have to be fleeting? 

Regardless, I want to keep smiling through the pain. The pangs of pain that shoot through my hip and the pain that stabs at my heart…they are equal.

The two pains are different while being alarmingly similar.

My great loves are those that I love intensely. They are the loves with whispers of faith and promises that I’m dependent upon. They breathe hope and make promises for plans and BQs!!! I pray that they don’t leave me in those fleeting moments where I don’t perform in its best interest or capacity. However, we can’t alway be on can we? Who can perform at 100 100% of the time, right?

I know with running I have great days followed by the mediocre days. I have days where my performance is top-notch and days where I disappoint myself and perhaps you. That’s when I ask for amnesty. That’s when I embark in self-reflection and challenge my perspective of reality. I’m not perfect. I flirt with insecurities and trust issues but I don’t commit to them. My body tells me when to run through those sour invitations and breakthrough it. After all, in life, what you really want will never come easy.

Here’s to the breakthrough! Here’s to the comeback!!! Here’s to the comeback of my great love while I shake off, or run off insecurity and trust issues! 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy running! 

XO

Valgal 

 

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