Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Gratitude, on and off the course...

The initial support I have received for this project has been tremendous, filling my soul with strength and inspiration. From the “likes” on Facebook, to personal emails, to running beside me, I am humbled and grateful. I’ve taken for granted all the amazing cheerleaders I have in my life, but I am glad I am now given this opportunity to reconnect with gratitude – learn how to truly be gracious and express appreciation, a lesson that’s never too late to learn.

In that vein, I’d like to say thank you to my friends with VA Momentum (https://www.vamomentum.com/). VA Momentum is all about “energizing the community for good”, putting on unique and fun events to encourage health and wellness in a spirited, supportive environment. I’ve been super excited to watch my friends grow this important initiative, and whether the founders realize it or not, they have played a huge part in inspiring me to begin this project. They’ve been nothing but supportive from the start, even including me as a guest blogger on their website, allowing me to share this story with even more people in the hopes that those who really need to hear it will find it.  I’m looking forward to including a number of VA Momentum events in my 35 races.

Speaking of my races, I completed my 4th race last Friday, the perfect way to celebrate my “birthday eve”.  Here is a brief reflection:

Race #4 – Apr. 24, 2015
Grand Caverns Signature 5K
Grottoes, VA
Time: 34:27

This was my first twilight race, set in the quaint Grand Caverns park in Grottoes, VA. I must say, I am certainly grateful for the opportunity to enjoy many of these races in such beautiful surroundings – the Shenandoah Valley is quite a spectacular place to live. I take it for granted each day, but as I mentioned earlier, I am trying to find ways to be more gracious in my life, and I definitely find myself taking more notice now of the amazing scenes surrounding me when I run.

I was also joined by our good friend, Michael. He is in the military and can run a 5K in his sleep, certainly MUCH faster than 34 minutes.  But he’s also a pretty awesome friend and always finds unique ways to support us, so he ran with me, right next to me, the entire time, never once pushing me or forcing me to go faster than I could.  That said, just his presence alone encouraged me to push myself anyway, so away we went, shaving three minutes off my previous race time – woo-hoo!  I think that’s good, right?  Well, it’s good for me anyway, so, that’s good!

As my birthday month comes to a close, it’s been an incredible start to this crazy journey so far! Four races down, AMAZING support from so many, positive energy flowing through each race – I can’t wait to see what the next month brings!

Speaking of the next month, I’ve started a calendar with my race schedule. Some of you have mentioned you might want to catch a run with me – I would LOVE that!  Check out the calendar and see what works for you! Be sure to let me know! Please note – the calendar only shows out to September right now, and I’m posting both races I’m officially registered for and races I’m considering.  I’ll try to figure out a way to indicate when I’m officially registered for something so you can tell the difference.

Thanks again to everyone for your love, support and encouraging words. Even if this project had to stop tomorrow (hope not), I have already been strengthened and inspired by your love, and for that, I am most grateful.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ready, Set, Go!

So I’ve never written a blog before. I tried to start one after Olivia was born, got one post up. I went through a few diaries growing up, tried some journaling over the years. One thing I always discover – I’m not consistent. My original intention when I started this blog was to post after each race, but history does tend to repeat itself, so here I am, three races in, finally getting to my next post.  But hey, this journey is about building a happier, healthier me, so I’m not knocking myself.  I’m just managing expectations – mine, yours, whoever is listening/reading.

One of the key lessons I’ve learned in my battle with depression – MANAGE EXPECTATIONS. So often, so many of our disappointments and struggles in our lives come down to that very thing – managing expectations. If we stumble to the ground hurt, disappointed, crushed, confused, we probably set our expectations too high, too unrealistic, too strict. If we find ourselves feeling confident, settled, sure, our expectations are probably right where they need to be. Over the years, I’ve tested this out, roped JR into the concept, implemented at work, etc. It’s something that has helped tremendously.  I’m still no expert, and I am constantly having to shift expectations, give a little nudge here, a little more space there – just breath…

So here I am, shifting expectations, and eager to share some snippets of my first three races. I must say, it’s been a great start so far!

Race #1 – Apr. 11, 2015
SVAP 5K Race for Autism
EMU, Harrisonburg, VA
Time: 39:02

My first race was a well-rounded kick-off – beautiful day, mom and dad involved, one of my best friends running beside me, good cause.  Jack was a trooper, clapping along the way, waving to passers-by, and eventually falling asleep in the final stretch of the race.

I wasn’t expecting as many hills as there were along the route, but really, what was I thinking?  It’s Harrisonburg, for crying out loud – hard to go five feet without finding some sort of incline. Needless to say, I was glad to have Sarah running with me to keep pushing me up each surprising hill – I think there were at least five, maybe more. Sarah’s an awesome cheerleader!  If you ever need someone to keep you moving, she’s your girl!

Mom and Dad walked the route, coming in with a solid finish time and a good workout under their belts.  I’m so proud of them for understanding how important it is to keep exercising, keep moving – they looked great out there, and I hope they get to participate in future races with me. It meant so much to have their support for the first race.


Race #2 – Apr. 18, 2015
3.2 Run in Remembrance
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Time: 43:45 (Slight race delay in the stadium tunnel)

When I came up with this whole “35 for 35” idea, my sister mentioned this race and we thought the timing would be perfect as a kick-off to the project.  Turns out I was able to squeeze one race in before this one, but this was an amazing race, nonetheless.

Virginia Tech puts this race on each year sometime around Apr. 16 to remember the victims of the horrific shootings that took place back in 2007. There were 32 lives lost that day, cut all too short. This race is just one of many events the university puts on in honor of the anniversary.

The quality and thoughtfulness of the event was amazing, from thorough instructions prior to race day, all the way down to the fact that they made the smart choice to NOT use a shotgun to start the race, opting for a beautifully peaceful moment of silence followed by the release of 32 white balloons, signaling the start of the race – took my breath away. There were TONS of people there, all oozing with Hokie pride and spirit. Everyone was involved, from the pep band to acapella groups, sororities to the cadets. So many little details along the way, including the opportunity to run through the tunnel into Lane Stadium – that was cool for me and I’m not even a student/alum – you should have seen how excited my sister was!

Speaking of my sister, I was so lucky to share this race with her. She ran the WHOLE THING with me!  I was so proud!  I might just turn her into a runner before this project is said and done. She did great!  She even pushed me a few times. And every time I get to see Colleen in her element at Tech, I am continually affirmed that she made the right choice and that she is HAPPY and LOVING her college experience – so important to me that she has found that for herself!


Race #3 – Apr. 19, 2015
HRock Young Life Splatter Run
Rockingham County Fair Grounds, Harrisonburg, VA
Time: 37:08

Today’s race experience was short and sweet, a color run, good times. We had a lot to do at home today, and there was rain in the forecast, so I didn’t do much else surrounding today’s race other than show up, run, take a quick photo and head out. That said, I did pick up a few little nuggets along the way.

Lessons learned today:
  1. There are varying levels of organization when it comes to putting on a race.
  2. Close your mouth when running through the color-dispensing areas.
  3. It’s not as fun to run a race where you don’t know anyone.
  4. Gravel is hard to run on, especially when the size and stability of the gravel changes along the course. 

I was glad to support the Young Life program for Harrisonburg and Rockingham. I don’t know much about the program, but I’ve learned enough to know that it can provide a space for young people to better know and understand God, and that’s never a bad thing. All in all, a good way to spend an hour of my afternoon.


As I’m writing this post, Rent is playing in the background. JR stumbled upon it on Netflix. Songs like “Seasons of Love” and “No Day but Today” fill our basement, their haunting melodies and intentional words ringing through my head. It’s a fitting soundtrack as I work to process through my first three races, the first three legs of this journey I’ve committed to. I’m measuring my next 525,600 minutes in 35 races, and if these first three races are any indication, I’ll also be able to measure my year in love, support, clarity and strength…a happier, healthier me.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Let's get this party started...

Hi. I'm Kelly, and I'm on a mission to a happier, healthier me. How? By running 35 races over the next year.

Huh? Why 35 races? What kind of races? How is this going to make me happier and healthier? Well, here’s a little background…

I’m turning 35 in two weeks. Just over one year ago, my husband and I welcomed our third child to this world. Jack, our son, is amazing – happy, smiley, smart, active, loving, sweet – everything a parent could hope for. Even amidst all this “amazing-ness”, this past year has still been one of the most challenging years of my life. Why? Something else was born with Jack, something called Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum Depression is a real thing, y’all. I’m not talking “baby blues” or random hormonal imbalances. I’m talking unmotivated, can’t-get-out-of-bed, want-to-run-away kind of depression – the real deal. Now, this wasn’t the first time I’d had this experience. I’ve always struggled with seasonal depression, and I went through a nasty bout of PPD with my first child as well. But this time around, this particular depression was stronger than ever before, infiltrating my relationships and the various aspects of my life on a whole new level.

I’ll get into the nitty-gritty in due time. But long story short (for now), I came to a crossroads in my battle with this depression. One day, I had a realization that I do still have some power, some control over what happens to me, how I feel, how I can make it through the day. And then I came up with this idea – what if I ran 35 races during my 35th year? It was just random enough, and still doable, to give me some personal motivation, some small goal just for me, just the right amount of focus to help me see just a little more light.

And so, here I am, with my 35th birthday just around the corner, embarking on this journey – for real. I’m going to make it happen, one race at a time. And hopefully, with each mile I run and each finish line I cross, I’ll learn a little more, grow a little stronger, and get a little closer to a happier, healthier me.