Gratitude and #prayersforBoston

So this post has nothing to do with running, or pace times, or PR’s or any of that. Yet, it has everything to do with running, too.

Running towards gratitude, running towards faith, running towards *something* that will help me wrap my head around what happened at the Boston Marathon today. Yet, no matter what I do — I just can’t fathom it. Unthinkable. Sickening. Tragic. Gut wrenching. Wrong.

The moment I heard about the bombings at the finish line of the marathon, my heart sank. For about a million reasons. For the lost lives and grave injuries. For the emotional trauma that suddenly encircled this fine city I call home. For the runners who had their moment stolen from them. For the people – spectators, fans, runners — who had their lives thrown upside down…or worse, lost.

As soon as I got home from barre n9ne tonight — where I took solace in the normalcy of teaching one of my favorite classes of the week — I went searching for the right words, His words, to give me comfort, or at least to give me a semblance of serenity.

What I found was this passage:

Incorporating gratitude into our lives is not about walking around with a cheesy grin on our face, denying the heartaches or injustices of life. We don’t have to sacrifice reality to be grateful. We simply need to adopt a gratitude focus that affects every moment of each day (Ephesians 5:20).

To me — today’s events bring everything around me to a screaming halt. All the trivial things that were on my mind from earlier in the day, suddenly went whooshing out of my mind. None of it mattered anymore. I just sat there thinking — of my husband, my sisters, my parents, my in-laws, my friends and sister-friends. And I felt such an immense sense of gratitude. That none of my immediate loved ones were lost today. They are safe. We are safe. I feel extremely blessed and grateful for that simple fact. For safety. For love. For faith.

So tonight, tomorrow, and every other day — please, hug your loves ones tighter, release the trivial frustrations from your day and focus on the good, the grateful, the beautiful. Run towards gratitude, towards faith, towards love. Just run. #prayersforBoston

******

In honor of today’s events, I will be running tomorrow morning in a Runner’s United to Remember virtual run. Every single mile will be run with gratitude and an open and joyful heart. Join me, won’t you? <3

Trust His Timing.

In the words of Joel Osteen:

Trust His Timing. 

#teamsutera has been waiting patiently. Hoping and praying for a peek around the corner in our path together — but lately, we’ve been particularly focused on the bend in the road on Scott’s path. As so many of you know, Scott found himself unemployed for a second time, and this time it stung a lot more — being pulled away from a job that he is so passionate about has been nothing short of heartbreaking for him…and for me, the wifey, the one who has tried to put on the strong, supportive face when really, all this wifey wanted to do was curl up in a ball, cry and yell out “it’s not fair!”

But instead, we both took a step back…remembering that thing called faith. The need to blindly trust that our paths would become clear for both of us. And in the meantime, we were blessed with a new job for me, one that inspires me and brings new life to my ‘day job’ while I still have the freedom to continue to pursue my ‘other job’ as a barre n9ne instructor.

 

And just as we were both settling into the notion of Scott being unemployed for the long haul — His timing became clear to us. Just like that. And this week? Scott stepped back through the front door of the school he taught at last year. He’s back doing what he loves — teaching munchkins the skills and tools they’ll need to grow up to be smart, intuitive, and eager young adults. And when I say ‘munchkins’ I mean it — this year he’ll be teaching first and soon enough, third grade. I have to giggle at the thought — every time I think of Scott in front of the first (or third) grade classroom, all I can think about is Kindergarten Cop, hehe. ;-)

But back to my point here — Trust His Timing. Never doubt. And most of all, do not fear the unknowns in life. It’s become very clear to me lately that it’s the unknowns in our days, weeks, months and years that wind up being the most rewarding, worth-the-wait, twists and turns in our paths.

And now…because I can’t help myself: is he *not* the cutest elementary school teacher you’ve ever seen?? <3

“Sticking your neck out for what you believe in…”

Listening to the radio this morning, one of the guests on the show I was tuned into mentioned something his grandfather told him on his deathbed. It had to do with giraffes and how he admired them as animals — not just for their grace and strength but for sticking their necks out even in the wilderness where they faced the threat of attack by far more vicious animals like lions or bears. To him, giraffes signified a mantra he tried to live by always: “stick your neck out for what you believe in.” 

And you know what? That guy was a very wise man.
…sticking your neck out for what you believe in is an incredibly powerful concept. At least it is to me.

Which got me thinking this morning…what do I believe in, anyway? 

I believe in the power of faith and blind trust in our paths, created by Him. Even if faith can be scary or hard to wrap my head around sometimes. I believe in it. Firmly.
(just this week I was reminded just how important faith can be, as some big time prayers were answered…more on this in a future post)

I believe in the beauty of marriage, of building a partnership, a best-friendship, a love story together. Playing “wifey’ to my husband is my favorite ‘job’ of all.  #teamsutera <3

I believe in the strength of the human body. How it just knows what to do if you let your mind go and trust your body to do whatever ‘work’ you’d like it to do.

I believe that sometimes all it takes is a good sweat to shake off a bad mood. Sweat is good. 

I believe that it’s ok to say ‘no,’ to put yourself or your needs first sometimes, and to not let guilt steal the joy of those quiet ‘me’ moments.

I believe in living a life as free from regret as possible. I may not be perfect at living this way, but I’m constantly working towards that ‘no regrets’ mindset.

I believe in fueling my body with delicious, whole, fresh ingredients, and not being afraid to say “I LOVE FOOD!” because good food (and let’s be honest, good wine…) brings me joy.

I believe that we all deserve to chase our dreams, big or small, for as long or far as that chase takes until we snag that dream.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. Even the bad things in our days. We might not see that ‘reason’ for awhile but trust me, it’s there. And it’ll smack you in the face one day and then you’ll say “ohhh, no wonder. Now I see it.” <—-this happened this week too

I believe in myself.

Now. Belief is a beautiful thing and I hope you all have a list just as long (or longer) than mine. Share it here if you like. Mull it over this weekend. Blog about it if you wish. Or simply: just believe. Let that sense of belief wrap itself around you like a comforting cozy blanket on a chilly fall day. Find strength in your beliefs. And stick your neck out from time to time, it feels good.

 

<<Editor’s note: Happy weekend my friends! I hope you find one thing this weekend to believe in, big or small. I know who I’ll be believing in this weekend. One of my bestest blog friends ever: Heather. She’s running a half marathon tomorrow and I hope you’ll all cheer her on with me!! I’ll also be cheering for all you MCM-ers running the marathon on Sunday. Hurricane Sandy, steer clear please!!>>

What I’m loving lately – the barre n9ne edition

Remember how I talked about the ‘cycles’ my workouts tend to take?
(wow, this post on workout cycles was a long time ago…back when Group Kick was still in my life. That ‘life’ feels like a lifetime ago given where I am today. Interesting note.)

Well – you guessed it, I’m about to enter a new cycle.

Funny how just a few days ago, I was talking about simplifying, not jumping into anything (race-wise) now that the marathon is over, etc., and here I am already seeing the outline of this next cycle taking shape right before my eyes.  So interesting that our paths in life truly are right there if we just learn to settle back and have some faith. Noted.

Anyway – that new ‘cycle’ of mine? It revolves around something I am loving so much right now, more than ever – yup, you  guessed it: barre n9ne.

I mentioned fairly recently that the studio was expanding again. I am PSYCHED about this. We now have two locations – one near my sister and one near me (fitting, right??). In a couple of weeks the studio near me (the original location) is expanding to two separate studio rooms so that location can now hold two classes at (or around) the same time of day or night. This is HUGE from a growth perspective – there are so many clients who want to take classes that simply can’t get into some of the more popular time slots (particularly at night). I am so, so, so excited to see this happen – Tanya (the owner) is incredible. She has worked her butt off to make this dream of hers a reality. It’s seriously amazing just how much growth the studio has seen since my sis and I joined the studio last May. To think that it’ll basically be triple the size as it was then is just awesome. Talk about hard work paying off, huh?

The studio expansion obviously holds a special place in my heart since it’s been such a life-changing ‘home’ for me (and my sis) since we kicked off the 60-day challenge and fell deeply in love with all things barre. We are both so in love with teaching in the style that we adore, it’s ridiculous the amount of gushing we do – to anyone who will listen (and even if they don’t want to listen, we still babble on as you’ve no doubt seen on Facebook, Instagram, twitter…lol). Most of all – teaching and participating in the barre n9ne ‘family’ is all about paying it forward for both of us. It has changed our lives in ways that neither of us ever saw coming back then. <3

 But back to that ‘cycle’ thing I was talking about.
(sorry, I digress a LOT lately when I write…such a spaz)

Now that the studio is thisclose to expanding, I’ll be teaching even more than I have been already. This excites me so very much. I love, love, love seeing clients ‘embrace the shake’ at the barre, hold on through a difficult arm series and to walk away from class feeling utterly ‘worked.’ Seriously nothing like it. Every single time a new 60-day challenge program kicks off, the energy of the room automatically kicks up a notch or two with both old and new challengers uber-motivated to give it their all. Love. It.

So more classes to teach, more opportunity to pay it forward? All awesome, awesome things in my book.

However, it *does* mean that I’ll need to step back a teeny bit from running. But in a very good way, IMHO. Going back to the run #simply mentality – my running will wind up being a LOT less structured given I’ll have limited windows of time to run now (at most 3 opportunities per week). And I’m surprisingly really, really ok with this cycle shift. I LOVE to run. Don’t get me wrong. But I’m already looking forward to less structure, and more running joyful moments. Where I just get out there to sweat, move, breathe, and feel alive.

And in between that? I’ll be living and breathing the barre n9ne lifestyle in all that I do. As I’ve done faithfully since last May.

So this is me, looking forward to rocking lots of barre n9ne ‘high’s much like the one I rocked yesterday morning after an especially sweaty, energetic 6am class.  #b94lyf

 

26.2 miles of gratitude

It’s marathon week for Team Sutera. And it’s been a very emotional one for this half of Team Sutera in particular.

Every single time I allow my mind to wander to marathon day, my eyes instantly well up with tears.
…partly because the sheer thought of what we’re about to do is equal parts awe-inspiring and equal parts fear-instilling (don’t worry, it’s the good kind of fear – the motivating kind)

…also because I think about crossing that finish line, hand-in-hand with Scott, and seeing my sister, her fiancé (!) M, and my mom and her boyfriend all smiling and cheering for us at the finish line (see? Even typing these words has me tearing up…).

…but mainly because I am quite simply stunned by the love and support we’ve both been surrounded with since we started training. From friends, from family, from #runsherpas,  from co-workers, from barre n9ne clients and fellow instructors, even relative strangers on twitter. All rooting for us. All pulling for us. All lifting us up with their words of encouragement and utter trust that we’ve got this.

So, as Scott and I head to Chicago today, I’m doing just one thing in preparation for Sunday: I’m showing gratitude. To everyone and anyone who will listen to me.

This is how I plan to spend the 26.2 miles we’ll run on Sunday – by lifting Scott and I up with words of gratitude. Every time we hit a mile marker, I’ll be dedicating that mile to someone or something that I’m grateful for. I may shout it out, I may whisper it quietly to Scott, or I may keep it tucked away in my mind.

But for every single mile we run, I’ll be grateful.
…and I’ll do my best to show that gratitude both in my actions on Sunday but also with words of gratitude, moments of prayer, and quieting moments running side-by-side with the love of my life. <3

It’ll be 26.2 miles of gratitude. 

16 miles: happy.

Happy. 
…that about sums up our 16 miler on Saturday. 

Happy that we were out there running together – Team Sutera all the way
(we didn’t get to run together *all* week due to something called a ‘new job…’)

Happy that our legs were ready: strong, rested, ready.
(thanks to taper time and learning to pull back…which is *very* hard for me, as you all know)

Happy that the miles felt SO good. All 16 of them. Literally ALL of them.
(which never happens in long run land…at least not in my version of it)

Happy that with every mile, my mind grew calmer, quieter, happier. I have never had this quiet a mind during a long run.
Ever.

Happy that this run proved to me and to Scott that we are more than ready for 26.2. Seriously, if someone told me to keep running for another 10 miles on Saturday, I could’ve knocked out another 10. I felt that good. So did Scott.
(but um, not gonna lie — I was glad we weren’t running another 10, 16 was plenty on Saturday!)

Happy that in 15 days (!) — we’d be running the streets of Chicago. Together. With (as Scott put it), 50,000 of our closest friends cheering us on.
(the roar of the crowd — the mere thought of it — sends chills down my arm every time I think about it)

(Can you see the happy in our eyes here? I can. ;-) )

With every day that passes, every step we take, every mile we cross off our training plan — I’m happier, more proud, more confident, more ready. I stand here continually in awe of how far we’ve come, and where we’re about to go. Feeling especially blessed and full of faith at this very moment. It’s a damn good feeling.

Run happy friends, always. <3

22 miles: demolished

I was looking for redemption this morning.
Redemption from that disastrous 20-miler last week. 
Redemption from the mind games that I let control me while on that run. 
Redemption from the doubt that started to creep in…the “why the hell am I doing this??” kind of self-doubt. 

This morning I got that redemption…and then some. We literally demolished our 22 miler this morning. Killed it.

(once again, looks here are very deceiving, I was in so much pain — it took all of my strength to amble on over to Scott, sit in his lap and position the camera correctly. If you look really close, you can see the pain amid my furrowed brows lol)

Everything just felt right today. The air was the coolest it’s been in weeks…not a lick of humidity in the air whatsoever. It was dark to start…which I just love, it puts me in this zen-like state, so peaceful and calming. We were nicely fueled thanks to our usual pizza night shenanigans the night prior. But most of all — we were ready. Ready for redemption. Ready to prove to ourselves that we’re right where we need to be with just weeks to go before Chicago.

Two phrases whirred around in my head this morning and I truly believe it’s what helped me stay ‘in’ it without letting my thoughts control me in that mental mind game sort of way.

The first came from a friend, Meaghan, who I adore and totally admire (she’s training for an ULTRA, I mean really, that’s just amazing). She lives and breathes running — it’s what fuels her, it’s her passion, it’s her first love (aside from her daughter maybe, hehe). Her words:

“Let the run come to you.”

I took her words to heart. I internalized them. I held onto them for dear life today. I let the miles come as they may, I didn’t force them, I didn’t overthink them. I simply ran. Letting the run come to me instead of the other way around.

The second phrase that drove me onward today? They came from my sis who gave me the sweetest, most thoughtful, most perfectly-written card. (side note: a card out of the blue, or a hand-written note for that matter — totally lost art form if you ask me, it sends such a signal of thoughtfulness and love that you don’t get from a text message or an email…). The words from that card…scripture actually:

“I have great confidence in you.” – 2 Corinthians 7:4

Simple, beautiful words. Comforting. I literally chanted that phrase over and over in my head anytime my brain started to veer towards mental mind game territory. I also thought a lot about my sisters on this run…both of them. And how much I love them and admire them and don’t tell them nearly enough.

I’m keeping today’s post short today — as I still don’t think I’ve quite let the 22 miles sink in yet. That we did this…together, yet again. We powered through even when everything started to hurt and all I wanted to do was stop. Scott was my sherpa today — cheering me on, telling me to stay right by his hip and he’d carry me home, and it got me through those painful last few miles. I had to stop myself a few times from breaking down in tears the closer we got to home — I was just so in awe of us in those final moments, so proud, so amazed. In fact, I did cry as we hit the home stretch. Scott took off ahead of me and was waiting for me at the finish, cheering me on with that huge smile of his. And I just lost it. Just for a minute. Just a few tears and sobs escaped. It was my way of ‘letting the run come to me’ – through tears of joy, pride, and yes, utter exhaustion. 

We did this. Yet again. And we’ll do this *again* on October 7 in Chicago.
…and yes, there will be tears then too. You’ve been warned. 

No limits, new molds

By now you all have probably sensed that change is underfoot for me here. Or maybe you haven’t necessarily sensed it but it sure has been on my mind these past few weeks. (y’know, aside from marathon training…the only other thing that seems to be on my mind all.the.time lately haha)

Lately, I’ve been:
…drawing on my faith while making some difficult decisions, and facing some uncertain new territory.
breaking the mold, or trying to.
…and fully embracing the mantra I set out for myself at the start of the year: 

Have No Limits Today.”

Without going into too much detail, here’s what’s been going on up in the Sutera household:

  • The hubs — who I adore more than life itself — is unemployed again. After finally chasing his own dream, returning to his teaching roots last year and having the most amazing and fun time of it, too (all while the proudest wifey  watched him with such glee as he’d come home from work everyday with a sparkle in his eye…oh how I love that sparkle…). Long story short — times are tough in the teaching profession…hell, in most any profession these days. It’s ridiculously sad that unemployment rates seem to never change…truly sad.  So faithoh FAITH — is coming into play in a huge huge way over here. It’s so hard not to question the ‘why’ behind the path he and I are on right now, and to blindly trust that there is a reason for this temporary setback — but here we are: trusting, believing, dreaming, supporting. It’s what we do.

Source: via Jess on Pinterest

  • Meanwhile, I’m facing quite the opposite scenario as the hubs. I’ve been handed a pretty incredible (and totally out of the blue) job opportunity. Yes, *another* new job. Yes, I do realize it’s only been nine months since I started the last ‘new’ job. But you see, sometimes you have to live by your own rules, break the mold, and  yes, put yourself first chasing a job and a dream that fits you so, so well. So this new job? Yeah it starts on Monday, and I am thrilled about it. I’m following the path that He set forth for me…a path that I never saw coming. Ever, ever. But I’m embracing it, I’m letting my path fall before my very eyes…blindly trusting. Something fairly new for the Suteras to embrace, but we’re learning to do it better and better with time.

Source: petiteathleat.blogspot.com via Jess on Pinterest

  • And this week, the height of marathon training for Scott and I — well, it’s quickly becoming a series of moments worth remembering, honoring, tucking away into the back of my mind. Scott and I have never been closer. I think it’s a combination of this crazy idea we had to run a marathon together coupled with the current circumstances we’re both facing — circumstances that test our faith; in eachother, in ourselves, in our paths. Something tells me we needed to be tested this way, to be reminded that faith is never something to let fall to the wayside but always something to continually work on. So this year of no limits, no boundaries and lots of ‘new’ for both of us is turning into the year where our faith was tested and strengthened in a special, beautiful, memorable way. Honestly, I’m honored that we’ve faced these tests — even if it’s scary to not know what’s around the bend for either of us — I’m learning to blindly trust and to truly harness my faith, our faith, together. <3

The beauty in friendship.

I am a very lucky lady. For a multitude of reasons (I love to count my blessings, they’re not something to take for granted, right?)  really — but a big one on my mind right now?

I have awesome friends.

Both near and far, “IRL” and of the bloggy variety — a line that continues to blur more and more, and in the best possible way — the friends I surround myself today are nothing short of beautiful.

I’ve mentioned the running sherpa ‘thing’ a couple of times now but I don’t think I’ve done it any sort of justice. And I don’t even know that this post will do it justice either, but I had to dedicate an entire post to the topic. It dawned on me after reading Spabettie’s blog post from last week (a fellow sherpa friend!) on this entire phenomenon, that I really needed to give thanks, right here on this blog, right now, for the world to see.

Quite simply - I’m in awe. 

In awe…that this group of beautiful sherpa friends has surrounded little ‘ol me (and Scott!) with a ridiculous amount of support during marathon training. I never saw it coming. And not because I didn’t think my friends were capable of such support, but because I guess I didn’t think I warranted such support. As odd as that sounds.

In awe…that they call *me* an inspiration to them. Um hi, you ladies inspire the hell outta me every single day. Your friendship, your loyalty, your own journeys as fit, faithful woman? Gorgeous. And awesomely inspiring.

In awe…that the love and support keep on comin’. The closer we get to October 7 (aka ‘d-day’), the more warm and fuzzy I feel nearly everyday that I log onto instagram, or twitter, or facebook or gmail. Little notes, words of encouragement, and funny-as-hell hashtags? Yes, please. :)

In awe…that I can count each of you as friends. Even the friends I have yet to meet in person (it WILL happen). I am a lucky, lucky girl.

So today? I’m thanking each and every one of you sherpa friends: 

Heather
Dorry
Lindsay (aka queen sherpa! *and* healthy bites genius…she’s even making Scott and I special marathon bites just for use on the big day, <3 her!)
Jo
Spabettie
Melissa
Sarena
Amber
Christine

In addition to such fine sherpa friends as these, I also have some IRL friends who have been quietly supportive in their own ways. Either by running ‘with’ me on long runs days (and texting me to tell me so!) or by sending me cute text messages that I usually see right when I get back from a long run, cheering me on from afar. You have no idea how deeply it touches me to read a simple “thinking of you” text message after knocking out a double-digit training run. It means the world. <3

You are beautiful, you are incredible friends, you are so dear to me, I can’t even begin to describe it. And you know what? I will run with a little more heart on marathon day (ONE MONTH from today!!) because that heart will be full to the brim with love for each of you. I promise to do you proud. <3

<<and I’ll certainly need an extra dose of your sherpa support when Scott and I stare down our second 20-mile run on our training plan tomorrow morning. Be prepared to rally, please!! xoxo >>

The anatomy of an early-morning run

Yesterday was one of those mornings where I found myself truly grateful to be able to run. And to be able to run early in the morning before the rest of the world wakes up. It was one of those serene, calming, centering and joyful runs. Runs where you remember just why you get your butt out of bed at ungodly hours of the day to log some miles. Yup, *that* kind of run.

So today — I bring you: the anatomy of an early-morning run:

Alarm blares at 5:00 (an ‘even’ time, I usually set it for 5:02 or 5:05 or something…odd that I didn’t this time)
I take one look at the clock and promptly hit ‘snooze’ (another oddity, I never hit snooze, ever ever ever)
Of course, the one time I hit ‘snooze’ and I drift into a deep sleep for 8 minutes only to be rudely awoken again by the second alarm (this is why I never hit snooze…who wants to wake up *twice* by the sound of that thing??)
I roll out of bed, quite certain I’ll be rolling back into bed in about 3 minutes. I didn’t think I wanted to run yesterday. I was tired. Or so I thought. (I got plenty of sleep the night before so this was totally an instance of my mind tricking me into thinking my body was overtired…nope, just the ‘devil’ on my shoulder trying to lure me back to sleep, damn that creeper!)
I threw on my running shorts, sports bra, tank, knee straps and sneakers. And then look at Scott longingly — “are you suuuuure you don’t want to go back to bed?” To which his response was all I needed to hear: “nope, I’m ready to run, let’s go.”

Off we went. Still dark out. But the second I set foot out the door I knew it was exactly where I needed to be. By Scott’s side, in the quiet, cool, peaceful air. Crickets chirping, the sky slowly brightening around us.
The first few miles are pretty dark and quiet – not much chatter between Scott and I. Instead, I found myself simply soaking in the moment.
We were together, enjoying the miles, enjoying the quiet time before the crazy day ahead, enjoying what I know I’ll be missing in a few months when I’m relegated to the treadmill (wah) or to running in the dark, cold, dreary winter mornings/nights.
Instead, I’m running in my favorite tank and shorts, it’s a gorgeous late-summer morning and we’re running. Strong, able, solid.
Love. <3

And then I see it: the most glorious, fiery red sunrise as we head across our favorite bridge over the ocean. The sky was incredible. So bright, so warm, so welcoming, so amazing. I wish I had a camera…or a photographic memory. It was so beautiful.
Up and over the bridge, over that rolling hill that nearly killed me a few days ago (during that lovely fartlek-crazed 10-miler). But this time, I didn’t mind the hill. It was so so so quiet in that neighborhood — a very different scene just a couple of days back.
On the turnaround we were greeted with another beautiful sight — a faint, but very present, rainbow. Rainbows mean promises. Of good things to come. Even if those ‘good things’ take their time coming…they are coming, around the bend. I’m trusting my path.

It was that rainbow, that moment where the run really took shape for me. We were only about 3 miles from home but I seriously could’ve run forever. I felt so centered, calm, focused, strong, free.
Even when the rain started to fall on the last two turns of our run — I didn’t whine over it, I welcomed it. So cleansing. Refreshing. Cooling.
Our final turn towards home and that goofy, runners high-inducing grin was plastered all over my face.

We just ran the best 9 miles of our lives.
Together. Strong and able. Welcoming the day with a fresh perspective. 

The anatomy of an early-morning run.
….and a reminder to never take for granted the ability to run, and the ability to run during such a magical time of day. Noted.