One of my favorite companies, Momentum Jewelry recently launched a campaign Called “Share the Spark.” Ladies, if you don’t know about Momentum Jewelry, you need to get to know them. Their motto is “be your own cheerleader.” The company is all about celebrating ourselves and our strengths. Their motivate wrap is my favorite. Not only is it comfortable to wear, even when working out, but it has an inspirational saying on it. As an ambassador for the company, I was able to participate in the Share the Spark Campaign. I was sent four bracelets to give away to fellow strong athletes. The bracelets feature two sayings, “you got this” and “Never give up.” What a fun task for me to complete. Who would I give them to? I didn’t have to think too hard about it. The answer came to me by way of four fierce soccer girls. More on that in a bit. First, I have to acknowledge the amazing strength it takes to push yourself athletically in this world full of distractions.

Growing up, I was active to a point. I swam on the swim team, I took dance classes and danced for the school drill team. Despite doing these things, I wouldn’t characterize myself as an athlete growing up. I hated to run. Absolutely hated to run. I remember faking injuries to get out of running the track in P.E. class. The P.E. teachers hid me on the field or court when it was time to play softball, soccer, basketball, tennis, etc. I didn’t particularly like to sweat and I also didn’t like to feel any muscles burning. I would say I was pretty good at dancing and swimming, but those activities didn’t really require me to push past my comfort zone and work to the point of ultimate exhaustion. I also think that when I was younger I didn’t yet have that intrinsic desire to push myself when it came to physicality. I was always driven and ambitious when it came to my goals, my goals just never happened to involve athleticism. For me, this drive to push my physical limits didn’t come until the age of 35.

The fact that my athleticism didn’t come to me until later in life is the very reason that I am so in awe of my daughters’ and their friends’ athleticism. My girls are competitive soccer players and they get pushed around and knocked down. They sprint across the soccer field to save balls with great expressions of determination on their faces. They dance around on top of the ball in order to make awesome passes and shots on the goal. They play all positions and take criticism from their coaches in stride and learn from it. I often sit back in my lawn chair in awe of my girls. They fight so hard playing the sport that they absolutely adore. I am so happy that at such an early age my girls have learned the feeling of accomplishment one gets from pushing herself athletically.

This year I followed the U.S Olympic Marathon Trials. I was so proud of all of the athletes, but the great display of teamwork exhibited by Cragg and Flanigan was particularly inspiring. The fact that Cragg sensed Flanigan fading and ran beside her motivating her to keep pushing is incredibly selfless. Many have asserted that Cragg held back in order to stay by Flanigan’s side for as long as she could before she pushed on ahead securing her number one spot. I sat my daughters down and we read the mile by mile recap and viewed the finish line photos. Cragg and Flanigan are competitors that build each other up and help motivate each other. This is the true definition of an athlete: one who beats her own best, enjoys competition, and supports others. This is how I want to be and how I want my girls to be.

So, after witnessing my girls and their teammates fight hard at a soccer tournament and high five each other and yell, “Good job” to each other, it was clear that my two girls and their two good friends, that happened to be staying the night at our home, should receive the bracelets. What a beautiful sisterhood these girls have. How great is it that at this tender age they already know how powerful motivating each other and drawing upon ispiration is. They are strong, fierce, passionate, and intense. They inspire me.

Live a Great Story

I spent the past week in Austin, Texas attending the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) Annual Convention. My partner librarian and I drove to Austin together and roomed together in the beautiful Hotel Van Zandt  just blocks from the Austin Convention Center. We spent our days in informative sessions learning all about new ways to incorporate technology into our library instruction and ways to help teachers achieve this in their classrooms. We also got to dine at fun restaurants and explore Lady Bird Lake, known to locals as Town Lake. And, of course, I got to run the town of Austin each day before our conference.

Vacation running is simply the best. There is nothing like exploring unfamiliar terrain by foot. I almost always get a little lost, but that’s actually the way I like it. With GPS no one is truly “lost,” just maybe slightly off the grid. I love exploring parks and trails and when it’s time to go back to my car or hotel I always struggle to find my way out. What I finally end up doing is getting out of the trails and up onto the city streets. From there I can more easily navigate my way back to my car or hotel using my GPS. There is one other thing I typically do when running unfamiliar trails … I typically fall down and get a blood blister on my hand and/or a skinned knee. This usually occurs when I inadvertently take the rugged “off trail” version of the trail I’m running. It happened this past week to me on the Town Lake Trail, along with me getting lost.  

 The fact that I get lost and fall down when running is very appropriate for me. I am never going to be that girl that has everything going for her completely and is flawless in every way. I’m not sure if that girl actually exists, but all I know is that I am very far from being that girl. I am the girl that sometimes snorts when laughing, frequently blushes after I’ve said something suggestive or inappropriate, and the girl that gets lost and falls down. That’s me. For me, running is all about getting lost and falling down. It truly is. I have completely lost myself in running and in turn found myself. I have also fallen down more times than I care to count, both literally and figuratively. I struggle with my running. I have never been one of those runners that says something like, “wow, the last ten miles of that marathon just flew by!” That’s not me. Maybe one day it could be me, but I seriously doubt that would ever be me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the struggle, I actually love it. I love the challenge. I love persevering. I love making mistakes with my running and fine-tuning my approach. It’s just that running does not come easily to me. Running is a huge mystery for me and I’m fascinated by how much my confidence goes into my success as a runner.

Besides the excitement of vacation running, while in Austin I also received the news that I had won an entry into the Katy Half Marathon.  I was wavering back and forth as to whether I would sign up for the race, so when I saw there was a contest I could enter, I quickly entered. I received word that I had won on Wednesday evening. We traveled back home on Friday and the race packet pick-up station was on our route home. I was able to quickly pick up my packet and use the facilities before we traveled the rest of the way home.  

 The race was the following morning on Saturday. I have to admit, being out of town all week made me worry that my performance at the race would be lackluster, but I really surprised myself. I not only shaved a good three minutes off my half marathon time, I qualified for the front corral for my beloved Chevron Houston Marathon  next January. The race was well organized and the volunteers were excellent. I even got a sweet finisher jacket out of the deal! The Katy Half Marathon will definitely be added to my short list of races. I look forward to running this race again. 

 So, even though I frequently get lost and fall down when running, it will never keep me from taking risks. I will also continue to put my name out there by entering contests and applying for ambassadorships. The thing I have learned in the last year is that in order for me to be my own best I have to take chances and prepare for rejection. This also opens me up for success.