Des News: Keeping New Year’s Resolution Momentum

A pic of the easiest chicken dinner I refer to in the article.

The holidays seem like a distant memory- and so do a lot of our resolutions for the new year.  February is a rough month.  It’s cold.  It’s still dark.  For much of the country it’s still freezing.  Spring seems so far away.  Some of us are just hanging on.  While the gym is still busy, there is definitely a feeling of frustration among members who aren’t seeing or feeling the change they expected by now.

I feel ya.

Thankfully, my job doesn’t make my good health optional.  I have to show up.  I have to exercise.  I have to stay motivated so I can motivate others.  But just because I’m paid to do these things doesn’t mean it’s easy.  Over the years I’ve had to learn strategies to keep myself on track so I can encourage others to do the same.  I don’t have it all figured out, but I know I’m definitely further along in the process.  I feel good about where I am and where I’m headed.

So I’m sharing a few tips that have worked for me in keeping those healthy resolutions.  Remember change happens in small doses.  Be patient with you and the process.  It’s what we do when things get hard that defines us.  Enjoy the journey.

Click on the link below to read more at Deseret News.

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865695655/Simple-strategies-to-help-keep-healthy-resolutions.html

Des News- Make Routines- Not Resolutions

Don’t worry.  This isn’t another column about how to make and keep resolutions.  I couldn’t write that because I’ve never made any.  Ever.  But I do believe in change.  I believe in fresh starts and self-improvement.  I see resolutions as consequences of our actions, not the catalyst for our actions.  In other words, create routines that create success.  Designing a structure to our day leaves less room for excuses.  Prioritize and plan.  Stuff happens, but it happens less frequently if we anticipate our needs ahead of time and plan accordingly.

Click on the link below read more about how creating routines can lead to success.

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865694590/Making-routines-to-keep-resolutions.html

‘Twas the Night Before Race Day

Taking a little break to spend the holidays with my family.  But before I do, I leave you with this little gem.

Twas the night before the race, when all through the house
No one was sleeping, not even my spouse.
My race clothes were laid out on the chair with care,
In hopes that the temperatures provided cool racing air.

The alarm clock was set, and an extra just in case
While I reviewed my splits and figured out my pace.
With my tummy full of pasta and snuggled in my bed
I closed my eyes, visions of PR’s dancing in my head.

When suddenly I was there, at the crowded starting line
Surrounded by runners whose shoes looked fancier than mine.
When what to my wandering eyes should appear
But Bart Yasso and friends, laughing at me. Oh, dear.

Lively and quick, the crowd appeared
Much quicker than me. I’d be trampled, I feared.
My stomach in knots, my palms getting sweaty
The start gun went off, but I didn’t feel ready.

The masses surged forward with a spring in their step
But I stumbled forward. I just had no pep.
Mile 1. Mile 2. They passed in a blur.
Suddenly the pasta within me began to stir.

I searched high and low for Honey Bucket relief
Before my stomach could give me more grief.
A brief pit stop and I was back on the course
Charging ahead like a Thoroughbred horse.

I passed by each aid station with volunteers so nice
Grabbing water and fuel and, if lucky, some ice.
They gave me high-fives. “Looking great,” they said.
I wondered if they were lying or just sick in the head.

Mile 12. Mile 13. I’m halfway there.
My stomach was calm. My legs felt fair.
I started to dream. I started to believe.
Maybe it’s possible, that PR to achieve.

The crowd had thinned out, but one runner remained.
He’d been with me from the start, but his pace started to wane.
He grunted, he spit, he shook out his hands.
With a grimace, he quit. But I had other plans.

Mile 17, 18. “You’re almost there!”
If I’d had the strength I would have thrown a chair.
I’m not almost there. I have eight miles to go.
The fatigue in my face was starting to show.

I took a deep breath and ate another chew.
This distance is too much. I think I’m through.
I’ll never run again. I’ll find another hobby.
Knitting or swimming or maybe karate.

Mile 22, 23. Only 5K to go.
I’m too close to quit. I can do this, I know.
My family is waiting and I want to go home
With my head held high and a medal to show.

Mile 24, 25. My victory lap!
One more mile and I can take a nap.
One step at a time, I’ll get there soon.
When I cross the finish line, I’ll feel over-the-moon.

Then suddenly what to my bleary eyes did appear?
The finish line and my sweet family, so dear.
Off in the distance, it seemed a mirage.
Just a few more steps and I’ll get my massage.

The crowds cheered me in as I sprinted ahead.
I’d made it! I did it! I wasn’t dead!
My feet crossed the mat with my hands to the sky.
I am a runner! I am! My joy amplified.

With my medal around my neck, chocolate milk I sought.
This feeling I feel simply can’t be bought.
I did something hard. I did something tough.
I did my best and it was more than enough.

As we walked to the car and headed home to shower
I felt grateful and happy that my legs had the power.
I waved to my friends as we drove out of sight.
Happy race day to all, and to all a good night.

-Kim Cowart

Happy Holidays!  This year, may the wind be at our backs!

Des News: First American Woman in 40 Years Wins the NYC Marathon.

 

After finishing my Sunday morning run with Shelly, I found my husband watching the women at mile 20 of the 2017 NYC Marathon. To my surprise, and American woman, Shalane Flanagan, was in the top 3. I’ve been disappointed before, so I watched with few expectations. Until at mile 24 she pulled ahead and never looked back. At mile 25 I dragged my girls in the room to watch the first woman in 40 years win the marathon. I couldn’t help but cry with Shalane as she wrapped herself in the American flag, overcome with joy.

I wasn’t the only one watching and weeping. Click on the link below to see what I and a few others felt as we watched that momentous moment unfold. Then go find a clip of the race and watch it for yourself. It’s inspiring in the truest sense of the word.

 

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865692316/Flanagan-carries-lots-of-dreamers-with-her-in-NY-Marathon-victory.html

Another Mother Runner Podcast Episode

Each spring I highlight my favorite podcasts to listen to.  Another Mother Runner has appeared on that list more than once, and for good reason.  So I was honored to be a part of the latest episode #282 Real Moms Run Milestone Races.  Two years ago I ran my 40th marathon on my 40th birthday around Daybreak Lake, and what a run it was!  It was by far my slowest marathon, but it felt like it flew by (even if my legs didn’t feel like they were flying).  Take a listen as I describe the day to Sarah and Coach Amanda.  And stick around to listen to the other three mother runners relive their milestone runs.  One involves pie.  Mmmmm….  pie.

Click on the link below to listen, or download the podcast from iTunes or Stitcher.

https://anothermotherrunner.com/2017/10/20/282-real-moms-run-milestone-races/

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Actually, it starts on dark, winter morning long runs when everyone else is asleep!

It’s that time of year again  That time when girls and boys across the land wait eagerly by their computers in anticipation of the joyous news that they have been selected to join 30,000 of their closest friends in running from Hopkinton to Boston.  Yes, Boston Marathon season has begun as runners find out if their qualifying time was enough to make the cut off.

As excited as some are today, many others who also met the qualifying standards aren’t quite so happy.  Because of increased registration, the race can only accept most of those who qualified leaving many who thought they’d already punched their tickets upset, frustrated and disappointed.  This article isn’t about how to address the growing need to revisit standards and procedures.  We’ll save that for a later date.  In the meantime, here are just a few of my own thoughts of how to handle that disappointment.  Click on the link below to read more.

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865690164/How-to-handle-not-getting-into-the-Boston-Marathon.html

Communal Joy

I wrote this column last June.  Circumstances prevented me from sending it to Des. News and it’s been sitting on my desktop ever since.  This past weekend my family and I traveled to San Diego to see U2 on their Joshua Tree 2017 tour.  It was our second show of the tour.  The first show is what inspired this column, so it seems an appropriate time to post it.

In a time when divisiveness is everywhere and consensus is nowhere, to have a moment where thousands of people unite with one voice seems almost a miracle.  But that’s exactly what I experienced at both of these U2 shows.  I call it Communal Joy.  It elevates us.  Makes us feel.  Makes us better.

I experience this when I teach fitness classes as well.  When everyone unites for a common purpose, to uplift and inspire, we are all better off.  Fitness isn’t just about our physical state.  It’s about our emotional and mental state.  I’ve always said that even if there were a pill to make me physical fit, I’d still come to group fitness simply for the joy I feel when I’m there.

Read and enjoy.

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A few weeks ago my husband, daughter Ali, and I flew to Pasadena to catch a U2 concert. You could say we’re fans. Between us we’ve been to a few dozen concerts. Our children’s names are U2 inspired. At one point I even had a special Christmas tree decorated with homemade U2 ornaments. When my husband and I were dating, he told me when U2 came to Kentucky in 1987 for the first Joshua Tree tour he quit his job at Burger King to stand in line for tickets. I knew then I would marry him.

We met Adam Clayton!

I get a few weird looks from non-U2 fans when my adult self reverts back to my teenage self and I gush over Bono, the Edge, Adam, and Larry. But that weekend at the Rose Bowl, I was among 95,000 like-minded souls. They were my U2 community. They understood me and I understood them. No one even blinked when this 41-year-old started pumping her fists in the air to “Elevation”. We sang as one. We danced as one. We cheered as one. That feeling of unity and collective joy is something I seek after and rarely find. But I did, indeed, find what I was looking for that night. And I left the stadium rejuvenated and happy.

We waited for hours, not even sure if the band would come out to sign autographs. We almost left. Our patience DID pay off.

A tight-knit community is a powerful thing. They validate our interests and pursuits. In these communities we find encouragement and solace.

I don’t attract 95,000 people to a cycle class, but our group of 20-30 is as strong as that group at the Rose Bowl, if not stronger. Cycle brings us together, but it’s the relationships that often keep us coming back. Within that small group we’ve experienced cancer, adoptions, divorce, and death. We’ve lost pets, been in car crashes and bike crashes, and celebrated milestone birthdays and graduations.

Our 10-year-old Ali, named after Bono’s wife, having a little chat with Adam. You know, just another day!

There are days when we don’t want to be in class. The last thing our legs feel like doing is pedaling, and yet we return. No matter how long we’ve been away, we are welcomed back. It’s in one of these cycle classes I met some of my closest friends. That’s the power of community.

One of our members, Rena, has recently been dealt a serious health blow. During her recent recovery she told me that her gym friends were what got her out of bed in the morning. She thought she was going to the gym to lost 5 pounds. She never imagined she’d gain 50 friends. She credits her positive outlook to these friends. Her doctor credits her recovery to her positive outlook.

After my bike crash last year, some people encouraged me to use my injuries as an excuse to stay home and take care of myself. While I couldn’t work out the way I usually do, I knew staying home would send me into a deep state of sadness. No burpees for me, but I could lead and coach others through a class and feed off their energy. No time for self-pity when I’m cueing form and correcting squats.

At the show

Our fitness community isn’t just good for our physical health. These relationships can uplift our spirits in a way no pill or procedure can. Runners understand this. Race day is as much a social event as it is a running event. Fellow runners understand the early morning wake-up calls and the harsh winter trainings. They understand what it means to set a PR (personal recored) or fall short of a BQ (Boston Qualifier). They get why we keep running even when at mile 18 of a marathon we swear we’ll never do it again. They can empathize with injuries and celebrate a fantastic tempo run.

I love to run alone, but I’ve found that being part of a community is far more rewarding. Once I opened myself up to others with the same passions, I found more joy in the work. Like Bono sings, “We’re one/ but we’re not the same./ We get to carry each other/ carry each other/ one.”

Top of Utah Marathon 2017

Race reports aren’t really interesting to anyone but the runner, but to not record this day seems wrong.

First, let me honest.  Marathons are really hard.  I mean, REALLY hard.  And they’re getting harder as I get older.  That’s okay.  I can handle the physical pain.  What’s been eating away at me is the stress surrounding marathons, most of it self-imposed.  I’m not elite by any stretch.  But I’m locally competitive.  Over the last 10 years and 46 marathons, I’ve placed in the majority of local races, most overall places.  For a girl who never ran more than a mile in P.E. class growing up, I’m really proud of all I’ve accomplished, especially since my initial goal when I signed up for my first marathon was simply not to embarrass myself.

The night before my first TOU.

Once I started to realize I had a tiny speck of talent in my legs, the stress went through the roof.  I expected a lot from myself.  When you know how good it feels to do well, it makes not doing well feel even worse.  Blah, blah, blah.  These problems aren’t even really problems.  But over the years, racing stopped being fun.

So, I started traveling to races where no one knew me and the expectations disappeared.  Amsterdam.  Berlin.  New York. Boston.  Eugene.  Those are the races I enjoyed most.

I’d met every goal I’d set for my marathoning self, and then some.  I’ve placed overall in every major Utah marathon- even St. George.  I’ve run three sub-3 hour races.  I’ve won a couple marathons and a few half-marathons.  I’ve set a few course records in the overalls and master’s divisions.  I’ve won the Utah Grand Slam three times.  I only had one more goal to check off my list.

I wanted a moose clock.

My first TOU.

 

The Top of Utah Marathon rewards its most loyal athletes (runners who’d run the race 10 times) with a gorgeous oak moose clock, and I’ve coveted it since the first time I ran TOU in 2008.  Last year, my 9th year, the threat of TOU not returning was real due to low registration.  I begged the race directors not to cancel 2017.  How sad would I be to get this close to running my 10th TOU and not get that clock? (Answer- very, very sad.)  Oh happy day when they decided to move forward with this year’s race.

My second TOU. Ali was 2. She’s now 10!

As the day drew close, my nerves got worse.  Race day felt like a dark cloud keeping me from enjoying the fall season.  My life was dissected into pre and post race day plans.  Training had gone okay.  I knew I wouldn’t be setting any PR’s, but I wasn’t feeling injured or exhausted.  Yet, the night before in my hotel room, my heart was pounding in my chest as though it was my first race ever.  To calm myself down, I decided this year would be my last local marathon.

Morning finally came and I boarded the bus to the start.  I won’t bore you with a mile by mile breakdown.  But here are the highlights.

Me, Tyler, and Jill at one of many TOU finish lines. 2012?

At it’s height, TOU attracted more than 2000 runners.  Last weekend there were fewer than 400.  It’s a beautiful course with the best directors and volunteers, so this fact keeps me shaking my head as I watch the numbers dwindle more each year.  The only positive note is it’s easy to get into a port-o-potty!

My first moose trophy!

My running/racing partner Tyler decided to meet me at mile 14 to help me run the last 12.  Mile 14 is also where my husband and daughter Ali would be to cheer me on.  So, goal #1, get thyself to mile 14.  I ran the first half in 1:31.  Not bad, but I knew the second half would be much slower.  My right hamstring was a little achy, but my right shoulder which I separated in a bad bike crash in June 2016 was on fire, and not in a good way.  The nerve endings all up and down my arm and into my neck and shoulder started talking back around mile 7.  By mile 14 they were screaming.

Coming out of the canyon. Never have I been so happy to see my friends and family.

The canyon is gorgeous.  Fall is sprinkled through the trees, and when the morning light hits that canyon it’s like fireworks exploding on the hillside.  I don’t run with music, so the sound of the stream rushing downhill alongside the road makes for a meditative run.

While I usually do math in my head to distract me from running, this year all my thoughts were about running.  I thought a lot about how far I’ve come.  How running has changed me inside and out.  How what started off as an activity to burn off a few extra pounds became a mental life raft.  I thought about the first marathon I finished.  The first sub-3.  The first marathon win.  I thought of the friends I’ve met, and the relationships I’ve forged.  I thought about my birthday marathon around Daybreak Lake.  I thought about Boston 2013, and then Boston 2014.  I thought about the peace I still feel even on the most painful runs.

Meeting Kaitlynne, my oldest, at mile 14 at the mouth of the canyon in 2012.

The miles ticked by and then, there it was. Mile 14.  I told Tyler if I’d been adequately hydrated, I’d have wept for joy I was so happy to see him.  While the first 14 miles are down the gorgeous Blacksmith Fork Canyon, the last 12 are a twisty turny journey through hills and neighborhoods.  He distracted me as he told stories of his previous week’s run with Alicia, his sister and my high school friend, as he paced her the last 33 miles of her 100-mile ultra.  100 miles.  People do this.  Seriously.

This guy. We’ve logged a lot of miles together. He keeps me from losing my mind more often than not. Mile 19 in 2017.

The best part of TOU is the ease with which spectators can cheer on their runners.  I saw my family a few more times before the finish.  Somewhere around mile 19 my side began to cramp.  It’s been an issue since my hysterectomy in December.  I’d hoped it wouldn’t rear it’s ugly head, but it did.  It’s not the kind of cramp I can run through, so I walked.  I never walk in a race.  But over the next seven miles, I walked through every aid station and then some.

Ali patiently waiting for me to finish.

The last mile felt like ten.  But finally, there was the finish line.  Rick and Elfi Ortenburger were there to cheer me and a few other friends to the finish.  My husband and daughter Ali were on the other side.  I tried to high-five them, but by this point I couldn’t lift my arm.  But they could tell how grateful I was that they were there.  I crossed the finish line in 3:13, fourth overall woman.  Second in the female master’s division.  I stumbled through the finish chute, grabbed my medal with my good arm, found a chair to sit on and cried.

The finish line 2017

 

Trying to high-five Christian.

They were tears of relief, sadness, elation and disappointment all rolled together.  Relief the race was done.  Sadness that it was the last marathon.  Elation I had placed.  Disappointment it was my worst finish time in over seven years.  There were a few tears of pain mixed in there, too.

Top five overall women 2017

After the awards ceremony, I sat down in the park where the finish line festivities are held just so I could soak it in a little longer.  Now it’s three days later.  Rumor has it that next year will be the last year for TOU.  It will be the 20th running.  With so few runners, they aren’t breaking even.  Every year they lose more.  There is no shortage of runners, but there is no shortage of races, either, others offering more downhill than TOU.  This continues to break my heart as TOU is so personally special to me.  The race directors love their runners and it shows in the care they offer.  The volunteers, the one-of-a-kind awards, their enthusiasm- it all makes for a day like no other.

My ten-year clock and beautiful moose trophy.

I loudly declared this would be my last local marathon for awhile, but I’m not sure I can miss next year, especially since it’s their 20th anniversary, and definitely if it’s their last year.

Center Street Grill. A TOU family tradition.

Sitting at the Center Street Grille with my family munching on onion rings and burgers, taking in the fall colors, and enjoying the cool breeze after a tough race, I didn’t want to be anywhere else.  Life changes. Priorities shift.  Bodies grow older.  But TOU remains a unique and emotional yearly event and I’m not sure I’m ready to let that go.  My heart says “Yes” while my body says “No.”

To be continued…

My beautiful family in 2015.

Deseret News: Gym Class Etiquette

I’m no Emily Post, but I do believe good etiquette can enhance our lives and relationships with others.  The group fitness room is no exception.  The Group X room is the place I go to leave the world behind and lift, dance, stretch, and push myself to a better state of mind.  In a very real way, that room is my sanctuary.  I want it to be every member’s sanctuary.  I want every person who walks through the door to feel better leaving than when they arrived.  We are all responsible for making that happen.  We are a community.  And every thriving community adheres to a few unspoken (until now) rules.

Click on the link below to read up on a few rules of etiquette that will enhance any group fitness experience.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865688138/Follow-simple-rules-of-group-fitness-etiquette.html

 

From the Archive: Finish Times Don’t Matter: Integrity Does

This column written in 2012 actually never saw the light of day.  It was a little too controversial for a happy little running column.  So I shelved it where it has sat for five years.   I stumbled upon it this afternoon looking through my archives and was surprised by how relevant it seems today.

Let me be clear- while this is about a political candidate, this is NOT a political post.  I am NOT advocating for the right or the left (although if you know me at all, my political leanings are no secret).  In fact, when I wrote this I was rooting for the Republican nominee.  In my voting life I’ve voted for Democrats and Republicans equally. With the exception of the most recent presidential election, I have voted for the winning party every time since Bill Clinton.

No, this column is about honesty.  It’s about integrity.  It’s about owning our successes outright.  It’s about celebrating the sacrifice, dedication, and effort that goes in to running a race- not the finish time.  It’s about telling the truth.

Read on to see what politics has to do with running.


I really hate it when worlds collide.

Remember seeing your teachers out in public? Seeing them at the grocery store was like spotting a giraffe in the garage. Very unsettling.

So imagine how shaken my reality became when recently the two very separate worlds of politics and running crashed into each other.

Running is my refuge. It’s where I turn to when I need to clear my head and release the tension that has built up in my neck from the day’s stressors. It’s the one place I can go to escape the non-stop political discussions that seem to dominate the news feeds. Yes, it is election season, but we all could use a breather once in awhile.

But with Paul Ryan’s recent claim to marathoning fame, it was a little harder to find that escape. The issue causing upheaval in the running world? Ryan’s claim that he ran a sub-3 hour marathon years ago. He stated he couldn’t remember the exact time. Around 2:50-ish, he said.

Continue reading “From the Archive: Finish Times Don’t Matter: Integrity Does”