Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bidding Girltrek goodbye

Those of you that follow this blog know my history with Girltrek. For those that don't I'll give you the abridged version.
I can't remember what i was searching for on the internet but i came across this video of a young woman giving a testimony about her health. I became interested enough to find out more about  Girltrek and signed up for their email list.
After some time I had GT emails dated two and three years back that i had not opened. Oh sure i would open some but i have always been notorious for having
a backlogged inbox. They were on the back burner for a few years as i was involved with a local running club and discoving the joy of long distance biking but after a move left me with no group to workout with i started opening those old emails.  Inspired by what i read i officially decided i wanted to do more.
I signed up as a group actually it was only mom and myself. When she could not go i turned to the streets and became a supermarket gangster.
Yes i said it,  i would strike up conversations in the aisles to get folks to walk with me. Id introduce myself with my birth name and not the company name from the internet as people tend to like it more as to distance any impression i was trying to sell them something. It worked i had regular group walks with rotating cast members for awhile but the body count slacked off.
I just wasn't reaching anyone serious about a walking routine then i discovered marathons.
I found groups to train with and it meant i was not able to spend as much time growing my group. I tried recruiting at churches to get them to start their own groups but folk weren't interested and everyone had an excuse so i gave up it was officially me time.
So in 2015 around late January  i decided to commemorate the Selma to Montgomery walk for voting rights. There was only one tough decision i needed to make.
I mulled over wether i should do the Birmingham half or the Auburn half marathon on Saturday before heading to Selma on Sunday with Girltrek.
Long story short i had some issues come up in my schedule and then i learned the girltrek leg wouldnt have worked for me anyway,so  i stayed home. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Often when we talk about what should be done within our own communities but it isnt until after we travel to other places to be part of something bigger that the realization kicks in that the journey should start at home.
A good thing the best ideas spring from grassroots movements started in neighborhoods and then spread national. So i made the fifty four miles from Selma journey  all about my neck of the woods and
it was powerful. Wasn't that's what GirlTrek was about doing things in our community. Yep a revolution of empowering self and strengthening community. My experience turned out awesome but my girltrek enthusiasm waned.
Im so proud of Vanessa and Morgan growing a movement. I've watched the two woman office become a team and even better one that the white house took notice of. Yet i came to the decision that it wasn't for me, i needed a connection to feel at least a part of something. I'm outspoken and often wondered where my brand of lets do this fit in. I fly solo all the time but came to the conclusion that's not the experience i wanted from girltrek. I have never been a group leader I'm an adventurer. I like to got out and map paths and recount the the tale and along the way i will stand up and say my piece. I like to uplift and inspire but somehow out the box and group dynamics aren't me oh the not so contridictions.
Which brings me back to leaving
It takes time to raise an organization and i see my sisters moving methodically in that direction. I hope they work on connecting groups within states. Its nothing more powerful than going down the road to the next town and helping sisters get their thing going. We've done that all along in the black community, it's a woman thing. Once I was surprised to open an email and see a huge gathering of women in a new group a little over an hour from me. I would have gladly gone to support them but it was not even mentioned. I told myself they aren't there and they still have growing pains but i still got their back. Not long after that i opened another email to find a sister from one of the southern groups was joining the national team. She did wonderful things in her town talk about a great choice, i continue to be inspired by the direction these ladies are taking.
However today God has other work for me to do. Although i fought it for a long time my desires are now in sync with the path I'm supposed to take. My part of building a better healthy community of mind, body and soul is just beginning.  I cheerish my time with Girltrek but Ive got to go. Its not enough to plant a seed and tend the crop i need to build a network. The thing about reaching out is one must touch all the demographics. Come young and old, active and Sadat.
In closing i would say find your strength to take on the task you were sent to this world to do,  no project is to small or unworthy. Don't confuse your calling with others journey by lurking in their movements. We are our sisters keepers and as women we can be supportive of each others work and become successful because of it. My super hero sisters are out there in the heart of their villages putting in the work and thats what its all about. Through the girltrek experience i discovered i didn't need to start a group, i just had to do me.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Refocus

It's been one heck of a year for me. I went from mowing down a few of what i thought were to lofty goals to surpassing my own ideas of success. Yes i did have some things go wrong ( i was forced to start walking and a health issue popped up) but other than that i had a great time.
I met fabulous people and learned there are folks in this community i call home who do care about the world beyond themselves .I had to search hard to find lifes jewels but they are out and about so glad the universe to brought us together.Most importantly i learned the power of letting go of that comfort zone.
I realize now destiny brought me into the racing word. I was stressed out and looking for a way to relax,enjoy my love of the outdoors and connect with my purpose on this earth.
Running provided me an entry into an active lifestyle in which to comb through all those matters. So with true delight I grabbed hold of the chance with every bit of strength i had. The high i got from entering then finishing races couldnt be beat, such a wonderful reward.
I had my share of prerace nerves and struggles to finish but i made it over those humps.What wasn't to like, it could be done alone and it took me through some of the most beautiful places ever. Actually i ran/walked around some boring cookie cutter neighborhoods too. Yet i have to say it was the people who made it interesting.
Every soul i talked to helped me in some way and while i struggle now to remember names and faces, i haven't forgotten the comradery we shared. For the people i can never forget im giving a shout out here.
First up the girltrek movement, an organization that mixed some of my favorite things. Spirituality, family,activism and fitness all rolled into one mother load. Then came Black girls run whose posters testimonies inspired me to stay on track and eventually lead me to share my own.
After searching closer to home i found a group that i could share training runs with. The miles i put in doing mondaine road work were completed mostly alone but as i churned out the weekly grind of miles i built a fellowship with some of its members. I enjoyed kicking  asphalt with them. Anyone willing to go the distance with me at snail pace is probably as crazy as i am.
There are way to many to name but a special shout out to the Barley family. I can't say enough what special place in my heart they hold,love yall. Big ups also to the Tara (waterwaif) whose last name escapes me, you touched me beyond running. Supporting community is a passion of mine more than trying to inspire new runners the work you do to make this a better town to live in is your real accomplishment. Also the couch25k crew, you all rocked. I miss you especially my favorite little guy. Awesome parents raise the greatest people. Lastly i thank the many park workers and local citizens who took care of me when i pushed myself to the limit to complete virtual marathons. I was determined not to give up even if it killed me and they had my back.
Now as i move on i get to take you all with me in my heart. I always thought of my life journey as a solo one but a lone wolf doesn't last long. My pack grows in spirit now  as Im keeping pieces of you all with me. I"m now on my way to start others things. See ya on the road, I'll be out there cheering for you my friends.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The last fifty

Today I needed four miles to complete the last of a fifty mile challenge . It took me longer than i expected because i was sick most of August from the heat.
I could not tolerate the stress this summers heat brought due to various ailments but somehow managed to get a burst of energy and a strong dose of willpower for the homestretch of my quest.
With four miles to go I completing the last chunks on a trail full of runners. The route is always full of running clubs, friends and biker groups. It can be a chatty place and almost feels like a small race.  The route takes you out and back so there is no avoiding contact with what i like to call pods of exercisers. It sucked being in their company because i like to get that alone with nature feel when i just want to bang out some miles and think.
As Sundays go it was a nice day to finish the challenge the temp was only in the eighties that early in the morning. Of course the sun wasn't up and the water and trees helped provide a pleasant experience.
Now i can not say that for the people. When i got out my car some female said to me " nice day for a walk", say what!  Everyone there was out to run what made her say that to me i wondered. I found it extremely offensive, now if she had of been someone i knew or stated she has seen me walk at local races it would have been different. I responded by saying "what makes you think I'm walking"
her reply " or running" with a laugh. I have no space for ignorant people. What happens when you assume...
If that were the only thing that pissed me off i wouldn't be telling the truth. The other thing was the do gooders comments. I started taking a cane on outings in case my knee gives out. Now it was in my hand, i wasnt using it but that didn't stop nearly everyone who passed from saying good job, your out here not on the couch and countless other "runner" sayings. Apparently they thought this was a good thing but for me it was distrubing. They did not say that to the other struggling runners and even before i started carrying my "rod" I've heard these same messages. I will add none of them are professionals nor do most of them run the entire trail.
They didn't need to know it wasn't my first rodeo or that i do mostly half marathons as long as its not summer when i switch to 5ks. What they should understand is while encouraging remarks may seem nice they can often reek of stereotypes. I'm  out there competing against myself just like they are but i don't feel the need to yell "good job" to them. For awhile i thought i was in rumper room and had to look around to see if Ms Sally was out there with me.
Then i saw my favorite girl again
My cane was in the car when she made the comment as her group walked by me the first time. Anyway as i made my way along the trail and approached a drawbridge its lights started flashing,that was my cue to start running.  Who should be behind me but ms "nice day for a walk". She had the nerve to say "oh your running now" as we all scampered across the bridge before it opened.
I have no more words *sigh*. I felt great and didn't have time for negative.
I was so proud of the fact that i actually ran one mile of the last  four i needed. I used my version of run walk and broke it down into forth of miles but hey mission completed. My long journey had ended on a good note and i felt wonderful. 
Never assume that turtle you see out on the road training  is not your competitor, because on race day its on. I may not be first but i will never be defeated.
I've stated many times i don't solely run for bling but the fifty miler from jostrunning.com was worth trekking for.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Celebrating a Runiversary

I am not a fan of doing any races in downtown Orlando for more than a few reasons.My first gripe pertains to the choice of routes usually involves some trekking over cobblestone streets  and frankly my feet don't like those types of surfaces. Then i can not express enough how boring it is to look at block after block of craftsman style houses that are now dwarfed by new skycraper condos as i make my way through nicely manicured revitilized neighborhoods. I somehow feel like these forays are more training runs than competition. 
I don't want to smell bacon frying or wonder who burnt the toast as fluffy barks at me from the sofa next to the living room window or worst have bruno squeeze through the gate in the back yard and chase me. It might help me to set a new P.R. but that wont make a bit of difference if i die of a heart attack on the road as i run from him.
Most often what scares me the most are the late starts times that assure I'll have to endure the full power of Florida's heat and humidity. So why did i make the trip to the city beautiful.
Well I am entering the home streach of my first year of racing and there just are not many opportunities left for in person races in this area.  It was also blackgirlsrun Orlandos fourth year runiversary and they were celebrating it at this local event. Since i needed a race close to home for the weekend it became an attractive even to me.
Okay that and I really needed a medal after the last two races offering only a shirt.It certainly made the decision to do the celebration of running 5k a done deal after considering my other option entailed driving two hours to Jacksonville for better bling.
Early Saturday morning I found the drive to downtown to be quite  pleasant. The traffic was lite on mills ave and by arriving early i had no trouble finding a parking space, i had my choice of the museum lots or on the street.  I choose the street just in case illegal tow trucks were out to car nap my ride.That task being over
I walked to the start area.
One thing i love about racing is meeting new people.  On my walk toward the start line I met a lady  who inspired me to just do the thing.  We wished wach other well and it was off to start the race.
The first surprise was a hill, okay an incline but not cooll at all. Then as the race hit the half mile mark a guy was beating the hell out of the dejembe and the rhythm put the mojo on me as i started to shuffle along. I should not have done that because the heat almost killed me.
By mile three i was experiencing a bounding pulse in my neck that scared the heck out of me. Luckily i teames up with a BGR lady who kept asking me if i was alright. Of course i lied and said yes but was so grateful to God someone was with me. 
This race will go down as the one that sealed my walking fate. In my heart i still love the challenge but physically I'm losing the battle.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Football kickoff 5k

My calendar race year is drawing to an end and i still have a few more events to complete if i want to hit the fifty mark.
I won't lie, with this bad knee working against me i have lowered my standards. Usaully I walk for bling and will avoid local events if they don't offer any. Actually medals don't motivate me to finish but they do make me feel better than a shirt does after the race is over.
Yet the closer i get to the grand finale of my first racing year  on labor day the  realization that i desire a memorable experience more than a medal has never been stronger. I want to fill my shadow boxes with medals representing special places and events that have significance in my life. This last race selection was indicative of that.
I registered late for this 5k. It didnt offer a finisher medal but i saw the chance to rock my colors and test the limits of my knee. So I decided to sign up.
As a southerner the start of both college and pro football season is a religon all its own. With the college game claiming even more fanatics.I have used thr seasons to help me remember a time line of events in my own life. So it goes without saying that i had to celebrate by entering this race.
I picked up my race packet on a Thursday only to discover the ugliest shirt ever. It was dull gray with white lettering. The first thing i noticed was that the sizing was definately childrens so i opted for the mens xl.
Things did not improve when i looked in the swag bag either. There was nothing worth keeping so i tossed that when i got home.
The morning of the event i met the women of my running group for pictures  and then we headed off to the start.
Once on my way i was pasted ny the usaul suspects. There was the baby stroller pushers, senior citizens and my new Nemesis the sweetest golden retriever even and a datson. You know your slow when you can't be a weiner dog. My cane was certainly a target as i made my way through the course. No one wants the cane lady beating them. Yet as i made my way around the course people from all age groups shouted encouragements to me. I was surprised  by their jestures and grateful but to be honest i just wanted to not be singled out. I was a race participant like everyone else. 
I used the support to push myself though, i challenged my body to complete walking intervals along the way.  I also made sure to speed up when i saw the mile marker clocks, i guess pride surely goeth before the fall. Then I used two women in front of me as targets and by the last half mile i caught them.
On my way home to the finish i chatted with them enough to learn it was their first 5k. I love meeting newbies but the end was near and i sprinted to the line ( okay shuffled) but i completed the mission and beat the rain. Since there was no bling for this race i had one made. Bring on football season college and pro, I'm ready.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Juneteenth 5k

This 5k was supposed to be a celebration of the 150th anniversary of word getting to blacks in Texas about the abolition of slavery two years late. Well little could anyone imagine that racism would rear it's ugly head and that a horrific tragedy would occur in South Carolina.
A twenty one year old white supremacist walked into a African Methodist Episcopal churches bible study on a Wednesday night. He was welcomed in and sat through prayer with them then got up and shot nine of them dead. This was no ordinary church, it's roots run back to slavery and in the early 1800s a white mob burned the orginal structure to the ground. It was part of the underground railroad and held church when it was illegal to do so for blacks in this building.After hearing of this horrible event early at 1am on thursday morning  i knew i had to do something.
My juneteenth walk was supposed to be private but i reached out to my running group where i am the only diversity posting. We have a few latinas but they are mostly not from this country and have no knowledge of America's southern history. Still I thought id share a healing walk with them something to strengthen not divide us. I knew it was late notice and father's day weekend but i made an event on our facebook group anyway.
Early Saturday morning i arrived to no one at the meeting place. I got out of the car, retrieved my flag and said a prayer. I thanked God for the beautiful day too and then i set off.
After one mile my phone started buzzing. I had messages and as usaul i thought they could wait, im walking lol. When the phone vibrated i wondered if it was my mom and hurried to answer. Nope,
it was surprise rewarded with two sole sisters calling to say they were driving over to walk with me after they completed a training run. A third sent her love and promised to run with me in spirit doing her  Sunday miles.
So I started the first two miles alone before my sister MRTT crew showed up. I took that time to slowly warm up the knee. I tried something new by not wearing any socks. It was great for two miles but i would not do it again. In fact the only reason i did it was that all of my running sock were drying  after being washed the night before. The decision didn't effect my speed but my knee did begin to give me warning pains that i should not go on. I was stupid to ignore them but i did slow down and trudged on.
Then I was blessed with many who were out walking showing their support. One lady made the sign of the cross when she talked about the tradegy,another wanted a picture.
I started to feel the heat around thirty minutes in but i wasn't keeping time. When the running group ladies finally found me we had an enjoyable conversation.  I felt honored to have caring people come out and share with me. This is who Iam, a woman who is determined to live a life of joy not hate. The best way i can show honor to those that suffered the middle passage, slavery, jim crow and lingering racism is to meet the world with peace in my heart. Yes i was hurting but the simple act of those who walked with me showed i was not alone. Good truimps evil everytime. Thank you ladies you are awesome.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 5k

It's Monday memorial day to be exact and 6:58 as i write. I wanted to sign up for a local race but mom is sick. She won't say what only that she just feels bad but we've been battling an assortment of ailments  for sometime now. Every setback in her health draws her closer to the brink. To say I 'm concerned is an understatement.
I ve decided i won't go run, i have a headache and a heartache. Racing has saved me from dispare yet i struggle to overcome guilt and the need to do some selfish things for myself. So I will go out today because i have to. God is in control of the situation and i need to just accept that fact. Today i will walk not for any other reason than deep down i know mom would want me to.
UPDATE
Yes i did take a walk that honored those that gave all at the local veterns museum. I walked the grounds, toured the memorial gardens, strolled down the boardwalk and enjoyed a lovely water view then called it a day.
I wanted to do a 5k but it was way to hot. This walker can't wait to hit the asphalt and chase some bling.
#3.1,6.2,13.1