Looking back to move forward

I’ve been home in Oregon for a full week now. Even though my brain thinks it’s time to go back to Jacksonville, I’m going to enjoy every minute until I fly back Monday. This is probably the longest trip home I’ve had since I moved (coming up on two years ago). Getting away from Florida has been good for me. I enjoy reconnecting with family and friends, breathing clean air and drinking good water, and hitting the reset button to prepare for the new year.

Last January I came up with three words that were my mantras to follow (thanks to the suggestion by Chris Brogan). TIME ~ CONNECT ~ MOVE Having these keywords made it much easier throughout the year to check-in with my goals. I’ll be doing the same thing for 2010, and once I decide what the mantra shall be, I’ll post it here so you can hold me accountable too.

2009 was a year of challenges. But with challenges come great rewards and feelings of accomplishment. Here are a few of my favorites:

TIME: Garrett’s six month deployment…hard for even the most committed of couples, I learned a lot about communication and the difference between big things and little things in a relationship. We also learned that we’re better together and are choosing paths that keep us together for the long run. THE REWARD: That amazing range of emotions I felt on the Homecoming day in July. He was worth waiting for!

MOVE: Becoming a runner…I started running last fall as a distraction and kept it up for most if the year. I completed my first 10k, 15k and half marathon, with a bunch of 5k’s thrown in for good measure. THE REWARD: Tie between crossing the finish line at the Gate River Run 15k and Marine Corps Half, vowing to do both distances again.

CONNECT: Social Media Club…we launched the official Jax group in February and it’s grown into a group of people I truly enjoy to laugh with and learn from. There’s a lot of work to be done, but we’re off to a good start. THE REWARD: Seeing new faces at each event through the year.

Work…it was another year of experiences, growing pains and teaching moments, but I’m better off now than when the year started. It’s still my “dream job.” THE REWARD: Watching Tiger sink the putt on the 18th hole Sunday at Bay Hill to win his first title of ’09. Being there in person was indescribable.

What were your challenges that resulted in rewards you want to build from?

Looking back to move forward

Meet Zoe

Single Greatest Night honorees got together for lunch this week (thanks Carabbas!) and we were joined by a couple of the team ambassadors, Zoe and Cammie. I should back up and tell you about how our teams are structured, and why. Each of us 40+ honorees are all divided between 4 different teams to provide help each other fundraise and provide a competitive incentive as we go through November. Each team is named after an child ambassador from Jacksonville with CF. I am a proud member of Team Zoe (and we’re the top fundraising team so far!).
Zoe is an adorable 5-year-old girl, the youngest of 8 kids. She was diagnosed with CF just before her first birthday, but you wouldn’t know it by meeting her. Zoe is a little shy, but she is very into princesses, Hello Kitty and most things pink. Zoe’s mom, Jada, is an avid blogger. She chronicles the family and Zoe’s journey with CF on the blog, Zoe for Life. (I’ve also added it to my blogroll if you want to check it out.

Single Greatest Night honorees got together for lunch yesterday (thanks Carabbas!) and we were joined by a couple of the team ambassadors, Zoe and Cammie. I should back up and tell you about how our teams are structured, and why. Each of us 40+ honorees are all divided between 4 different teams to provide help each other fundraise and provide a competitive incentive as we go through November. Each team is named after an child ambassador from Jacksonville with CF. I am a proud member of Team Zoe (and we’re the top fundraising team so far!).

Zoe is an adorable 5-year-old girl, the youngest of 8 kids. She was diagnosed with CF just before her first birthday, but you wouldn’t know it by meeting her. Zoe is a little shy, but she is very into princesses, Hello Kitty and most things pink. Zoe’s mom, Jada, is an avid blogger. She chronicles the family and Zoe’s journey with CF on the blog, Zoe for Life. (I’ve also added it to my blogroll if you want to check it out.)

It was great to sit down with other members of Team Zoe and meet Zoe, her brother Austin and their mom Jada over lunch. Zoe spent most of the lunch coloring in her Hello Kitty color book, but she did wow us with some Princess trivia (Who is the only princess to have 3 different names?) and gave us all purple bracelets that read “Cure Cystic Fibrosis.” Here are a few pictures we took with Zoe after lunch.

Team Zoe
An almost smile from Zoe!

The CF bracelets Zoe gave us (and her own)
The CF bracelets Zoe gave us (and her own)
Zoe and her brother Austin
Zoe and her brother Austin

Meeting Zoe and her family gave me another unforgettable connection to CF. Lately my giving back efforts haven’t gone much further than running in a charity race, donating blood or giving money to a friend’s fundraising efforts…but getting involved with CFF and Single Greatest Night has been one of the best things I’ve done since I came to Jacksonville. It’s amazingly powerful to interact with kids like Zoe and be able to share their stories with all of you. Most of us take for granted the breaths we take, yet there are 30,000 children and adults in America who are fighting a disease that can make each breath a struggle. Next time you take a deep breath, I hope you think of Zoe and her fight.

To help my efforts to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, please consider donating by clicking here.

Meet Zoe

A new kind of challenge

One of my keywords for 2009 is MOVE. I want to get out and have adventures. See things and explore. Get my butt in gear and be active. Do something challenging that I can be proud about. (Ironically, I didn’t necessarily mean pack up my things and move into a new place, but I am next weekend.) 

I’ve never been a runner or even interested in running at any speed for most of my life. My high school and college were both well-regarded for stellar cross country and track teams, so I’m used to being around fast, active people. Last September, I decided I needed a new personal challenge and running became my outlet. I circled the Race for the Cure and the Outback Thanksgiving Day race as two races that I wanted to do, with the ultimate goal of doing a half-marathon. This challenge came at a good time for me, as I needed a distraction while my boyfriend was underway for a couple months with the Navy.  

Using a “Couch to 5K” plan, I worked my way up to the Race for the Cure 5K in about 5 weeks. I broke my goal of 30 minutes, by finishing the race in 29:02. I kept training and also completed the Outback Distance Classic 6K with my friend Stacey, under our goal of 36 minutes (6K=3.6 miles). In just over two months, I went from non-runner to finshing two races. I was kinda hooked!


Outback 6K  Race for the Cure 2008

Outback 6K (with Stacey) and Race for the Cure5k – 2008

Running presents challenges to me that I’ve never faced before. It’s hard. At least for me, since I’ve never ran without a ball in front of me or much more than a mile at a time. It takes dedication. I couldn’t go out and just run miles without putting in the training time. It’s a mental challenge. Running can be boring…especially on a treadmill. I’m just now learning how to push through pain and thoughts of “am I done yet?” (hint: just keep swimming) Now I’m embracing running as a great distraction and stress reliver. 

I’ve set new goals for myself for the first few months of 2009. I will run (and finish!) the Gate River Run 15K here in Jacksonville. This is the biggest race in Jax each year (and the U.S. National Championship for the 15K distance). It’s 9.3 miles through downtown, over 2 bridges and starts & finishes at the Jaguars’ Stadium. I’ll be one of 14,000+ people trying to tackle this distance on March 14th (one month!). If that’s not enough of a challenge, I’m also planning on running in Nashville on April 25th in the Country Music Half Marathon with my virtual running buddy, Kait. Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz play that evening @ Vanderbilt, so that will be part of our motivation to cross the finish line! 

I’ll continue to blog about my workouts and my progress towards the River Run and half marathon.  Yesterday, I set a new personal best by doing 6 miles in 62:20 on the treadmill. By using an adaptation of Hal Higdon’s 15K training schedule, which uses walk breaks during the long runs, I have become a fan of this method. It allows for a little recovery through the workout, lessening chances for injury, and also keeps me mentally engaged throughout the run. 

If you are a runner, spectator, or heckler and have some words of wisdom or encouragement, I’d love to hear them. I’m also looking for new music to add to my iPod for training. I made a great 6K playlist for the Outback run and look forward to doing the same for the River Run. Feel free to leave comments below and let me know what you think. 

MOVE is one of my challenges-resolutions-goals for 2009. What are yours and how are you following through on them?

A new kind of challenge