Run While You Can

We had our second Moms Run This Town group run on Saturday and I loved seeing some new faces out there.

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See that lady on the top right? She’s a PE school teacher and is about to be a grandmother. She also is one of the most dedicated athletes I know. She recently completed her first 70.3 triathlon..crazy huh?

How about this? My former pastor just completed his 10th Ironman in 6 years this past weekend in Chattanooga. He finished in 12 hours, 20 minutes and then hung out with his six grandkids. That’s quite a day.

The inspiring stories go on and on.

I have no idea if I’ll still be running when I have grandchildren. But here’s what I do know – I can run today.

There will come a day I won’t be able to anymore. But that day is not today.

So even when I don’t feel like it? I’ll run. I’ll workout. I’ll appreciate this body that I have. Is it perfect? Nope. It is as naturally as athletic as I’d like it to be? Not at all.

But it’s healthy. And it’s the only one I’ll ever get.

Will I run as often as I’d like? No. A full-time job and a young family takes priority. And that’s okay.

To my single, childless friends – run while you can. Enjoy every moment.

To the frazzled mom who needs some time to herself? Run when you can. And enjoy each step.

To the soon-to-be empty nester who isn’t sure what’s next? Run. Set a goal. Accomplish it.

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Bottom line? Run while you can.

Someday, you’ll look back and be so glad you did.

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Getting Fired: A Blessing in Disguise

Sometimes the trajectory of our life looks nothing like what we had once envisioned. And sometimes? That is the biggest blessing in the world.

I graduated law school in 2008, ready to take on the world. I had a lot of success in law school – competing on the trial team and moot court, and was even one of the lucky few who graduated with a job already in place.

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I worked at a family law firm during law school and they offered me an associate position before I even graduated. I started working full-time as a clerk as soon as I took the bar exam, and earned that “associate” title when I found out I passed the bar. I came out making a great salary, and my the firm even hired my boyfriend (now husband) as their marketing director.

Seems pretty perfect, right?

Not even close.

The firm environment turned toxic quickly. The turnover rate became unbelievable, especially for a small firm. No one knew day to day if their job was secure. My boyfriend (now husband) got laid off. The rest of us struggled on, trying to make our billable hour requirements, never knowing when the hammer would drop. The life of a divorce attorney isn’t a pleasant one either. I desperately wanted to help people put their lives back together, but I felt so limited. Limited by what the law allowed, limited by what they could afford to pay me…I just felt like I was doing nothing good with my life. Couple that with getting engaged while working on divorces every day. I felt like I knew the “escape route” too well. I didn’t want divorce to feel “normal” – but yet, there it was, in my face every single day. Not exactly a fun way to walk into a marriage, surrounded by marriages that are falling apart. It became apparent that my values didn’t line up with the values of the firm, and everyone seemed to walk around on egg shells. I dreaded going to work every day.

And then…my number came up. Once the golden child who was promised the world, I found myself carrying a cardboard box out of the place where my dream of being a lawyer became a reality.

It hurt.

But yet, when I walked out that day, I felt a sense of relief. I had NO idea what I would do next. I had no job prospects and not a lot of work experience under my belt. But I knew I didn’t want to be there anymore. At least I didn’t have to go somewhere I hated being every day.

I had no idea what my future held, but I knew Who held my future.

As I look back over the past 5 years, I am amazed at the path God set before me. When I got home from work that day, I emailed a close friend and administrator at the law school. He invited me to come work with him until I found a permanent law job somewhere else. I started at the law school, and it didn’t take long for me to ask if this temporary position could become a permanent one. It did and I spent the next few years working with law students and I loved it. I told my boss at one point that only the perfect job would take me away from that place. Then…it came along. I left that job on great terms and moved back to my hometown to lead a non-profit organization and I’ve been there the past two and a half years and I love what I do.

That law firm job feels like a hundred years ago. Another lifetime.

Or it did…until last night.

I received an email from a former co-worker, the one who helped me pack up my cardboard box of belongings on the day I got fired.  I haven’t talked to him since that day. He told me in his email that he has been working at that firm for the past 5+ years, and has seen the high turnover continue – over 32 associates/paralegals in those 5 years. And then yesterday…his number came up. He and his paralegal were fired without warning, about 10 minutes before he was supposed to leave for vacation. My heart broke for him. What had become a distant memory for me had been his reality for the past five years. While I moved forward with my life, getting married, having children, working in jobs I loved – he had stayed in that nightmare. Maybe it didn’t always feel like a nightmare to him, maybe he enjoyed being there. Until yesterday when it all fell apart.

Hearing from him brought back so many memories, but mostly it made me SO thankful. I can’t imagine what my life would look like if I had spent the past five years in that place. Looking back, getting fired is the best thing that ever happened to me on my career path. Go figure.

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As I reflect on all this, I am reminded me that we can trust God even when we don’t understand what He is doing. I had no idea what the future held for me that day as I carried my cardboard box out of my office. And yet, I am so thankful for how He has led and guided my life in directions I would not have predicted. If you’re walking through a season of uncertainty, keep your eyes on Him and remember that He is FOR you, not against you! He has a plan, He is good, and He can be trusted. The path doesn’t always look the way we thought it should. That’s okay. In fact, sometimes that is a good thing. 

Has your life ever taken an unexpected turn that you later realized was a blessing?

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Broken Crayons Still Color

I saw this on Pinterest today and it just jumped off the screen at me.

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I don’t know about you, but I am often my worst critic. I’m the first to disqualify myself, to notice the ways I fall short on a daily basis.

I’m not perfect. I never will be.

But I love this sentiment – broken crayons still color.

It’s so easy to think that we don’t measure up. That we’re not good enough. That we’re too broken. That we’ve made too many mistakes.

It’s not true.

Each of us has something to offer this world. There is a bit of humanity we are meant to “color”. To encourage. To serve.

I believe there is a purpose for each person, and that purpose doesn’t disappear because we discover a chink in our own armor. Maybe that broken piece, maybe that cracked cistern, is just what this world needs.

I don’t know about you, but I relate a lot more to people who admit their failures than people who pretend to be perfect. The world needs us to be real. To keep coloring even when we’re broken.

So find a broken person today. Remind them that they have something to offer the world. And if that broken person is you? Keep coloring. The world needs you.

And together, we’ll make a masterpiece.

 

 

 

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First “Moms Run This Town” Group Run

Have you ever heard of the group “Moms RUN This Town”? They are free running group for women and have chapters all over the country.

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We don’t have a moms running group here in my town so I decided to start a MRTT Chapter here. If your town doesn’t have one, it’s really easy to do! Maybe YOU should be the one who starts one? :)

I set up a Facebook Group and in less than a week, it had 40 members. I scheduled our first run for this past Saturday, but unfortunately several women said they couldn’t make it. Even worse? It rained the ENTIRE day before the run and I woke up at 4:30am that morning and heard it pouring down rain.

I started thinking…why am I doing this? Was this a dumb idea? I got on Facebook (at 4:30am) and wrote a message that we were cancelling the run. But then as I lay in bed and tried to go back to sleep, I heard the rain stop. My husband woke up because of my tossing and turning and I told him my dilemma. Should I cancel the run? Should we meet anyway? He simply responded, “Just run.” and rolled back over and went to sleep. Gotta love how simple guys are. :)

I got out of bed and cancelled the FB post. And went back to bed for a little while – we were scheduled to meet at 6:30am. I woke up and headed downtown – thankfully the rain had stopped! For the moment at least. I had no idea if anyone would be joining me. But as I stood out there, women started showing up.

There ended up being five us who ran on Saturday, and I am SO glad I didn’t cancel the run.

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Such an awesome group of moms! We all just ran (or walked) our own pace for the 5k route. Not bad with views like this one the way!

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The rain held off for most of our run, but we did get a few sprinkles on the way back. The air felt cool (for Florida) but the sprinkles of rain still felt great.

I had one of my best runs in a LONG time – I ran all three miles without walking! That’s huge for me!

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I’m pretty happy with that 11:10min/mile average pace. Obviously, I’d love to get faster, but I’m happy with that as a starting point. I’m going to have to start mapping out my half marathon training plan soon, so stay tuned for that. For now? I’m really looking forward to growing this MRTT group over the next few weeks!

Do you run with a group? If so, I’d love to hear about it and what made you decide to join it! 

 

 

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Inspiring Others

The whole reason I started writing this blog in the first place?

To inspire other “wannabe athletes” to accomplish things they had only dreamed of doing.

It has been awesome to get to know readers over the years and to hear about all of your accomplishments. But over time, I got distracted from that goal…and only recently do I feel like I have put the “wannabe athlete” title back in this life of mine.

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You might remember that I moved back to my hometown about two and a half years ago. I was pregnant with Little Miss and stepped into a job that consumed much of my time and attention. The whole “athlete” thing definitely fell by the wayside.

Lately ? I’ve gotten it back. I’m doing PiYo 6 days a week. I’m leading Challenge Groups and helping to motivate other people to get in shape (or get in better shape). And I took the plunge this week and did something I have wanted to do for a while – I took the steps to create a “Moms RUN This Town” running group here in my hometown. Our first run will be this Saturday and I’m excited (although admittedly a little nervous) about how it will turn out.

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But it’s so funny when local people say things to me like, “You’re really into this fitness thing now, huh?”. They think it’s something totally new.

What they don’t realize is that this is the OLD me – before life got busy with my job and my family. This is the real me. Not someone who is a natural athlete…but someone who is a dedicated “wannabe” who wants to inspire other people right along with her.

It feels good to be back. :)

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Orangetheory with The JoyFM!

Have you heard of Orangetheory Fitness?

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They opened their first location three years ago and it’s been booming across the country ever since. I have a lot of friends who have done Orangetheory, but I’ve never tried it.

Thanks to our local Christian radio station (The JoyFM – you can hear them throughout Florida, Georgia and online!) and my friend Carmen (a DJ on the Morning Cruise), I had a chance to try it today. And whew, I had a blast!

Where’s Waldo? I mean…where’s Callie? :)

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Carmen has been talking about Orangetheory forever so I jumped at the chance to do it with her. This girl makes me LAUGH!

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If you’ve never been to Orangetheory, here’s basically how it works. Everything is focused around your heart rate. You wear a heart monitor the whole time and track your heart rate level on a giant screen in the room. There are three zones: green, orange and red.

We started on the treadmills and Abdul (one of our coaches) told us to get to our “Base” – which is in the green zone. After a while, he told us to increase the speed (or incline) into the orange zone, and then we would sprint to get our heart rate into the red zone. We were on the treadmills for 26 minutes and I felt GREAT. I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt strong. The music was pumping. The energy was electric.

After our time on the treadmill, we switched over to the rowing machine and alternated between that and the weight room. We did things like sumo squats with dumbells, dead lifts, jumping jacks, upright rows, etc.

I am happy to report that I felt FANTASTIC the entire time. I really think PiYo might have me in the best shape of my life! I felt unstoppable and I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. These two coaches made the class FLY by – they were so encouraging and fun! Oh and by the way – they both used to be professional athletes They know something about working out!

 

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When the class finished, my report showed that I had burned 580 calories in less than an hour. Talk about an effective workout! (I’m in the middle on the top in case you’re curious.)

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I can totally see how people get hooked on Orangetheory. We don’t have one locally (I drove up to the one in New Tampa for the workout) but I sure had fun visiting! I also loved feeling the confirmation that doing PiYo is reaping huge rewards. There’s nothing like feeling strong and fit throughout a tough workout.

Many thanks to the JoyFM and Orangetheory New Tampa for such a fun opportunity!

Any JoyFM listeners out there? Have you tried Orangetheory? 

 

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Transformation Tuesday: PiYo Challenge Results

Can you believe a month has passed since I started the “Back to School PiYo Challenge”? I can’t! The time totally flew by.

Every day during the month, a group of us women who are doing the Challenge have been checking in with each other in a private Facebook group, encouraging each other to complete the PiYo workout of the day and to eat a little healthier than we did the day before.

How do I feel at the end of the Challenge? Stronger. Leaner. And yes, thinner.

Overall? I’m down about 3 pounds, down 1 inch in each thigh, down 1 inch across my hips, and almost an inch in my waist. It is WAY outside my comfort zone to show my belly on my blog, but I’m seeing big changes there. I have obliques! Never thought I would be able to say that. :)

I also took an updated photo of my backside since I started doing PiYo about a month and a half ago – BIG changes there!

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I wish I could quantify the difference I’m feeling though. I feel like I have core strength for the first time since having my second child. I have better posture. My clothes fit better. I just feel…healthier. Shakeology has become part of my daily routine, and the PiYo workouts are such a good fit for me, my schedule, and what my body needs to change shape.

But I’m not done yet. :)

Real talk? I noticed I’ve been slacking a little bit here at the end of the 30 Day Challenge. I traveled to a conference and while I “did” my workouts in my hotel room, the intensity just wasn’t there. I was going through the motions – and tapping out early if the moves were too tough.

I’m taking this week off and then I’ll be jumping back in full force with a September PiYo Challenge that is starting on Monday. My goals for this next month are to be able to do a full tricep pushup – yes, I can do regular full ones now!

FullPushupI’d also like to continue to tone my body, and would really love to lose about another inch across my hips. I haven’t pulled out my winter pants in a while and I really want them to fit (or be too big) when the time comes. :)

What about you? Where do you want to be a month from now? If you’re interested in joining this PiYo Challenge, email me ASAP at calliecowan (at) gmail.com so we can get you all set up in time to start with us on Monday. There are 14 new people joining this Challenge and I’d love for you to be part of the group!

But maybe you already have goals for this month. Maybe you’re training for a race. Maybe you are starting CrossFit. Maybe you are getting into a routine of going for a walk every evening. Tell me what your plan is for the next month – I’d love to hear about it!

Where will you be one month from now? How are you going to get there? 

 

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A Runner Again? Training for the Sarasota Music Half Marathon

Yep, I did it. I took the plunge.

I’m officially registered for another half marathon. Eek!

I haven’t run a half marathon since right before I got pregnant with Little Miss. She is going to be two in November. No, I can’t believe it either. Time is flying by!

The only other distance race I’ve done since then is the disastrous Gasparilla 15k I did this spring. I learned there that you cannot undertrain for a long distance race. You will be miserable. So that isn’t an option for this half marathon. Time for dedication.

I’m loving doing PiYo and I have no plans to stop that. Our 30 Day Challenge officially ended yesterday, and a new one is starting next Monday. I plan to do that exclusively for another month, then start easing into training for the half marathon in October, still complementing my training with PiYo. I think the strength and flexibility parts of it will be really good for me when I’m out there pounding the pavement on a regular basis.

So which half marathon am I doing?

You might be able to see it on my training shirt – the Sarasota Music Half Marathon!

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Never heard of it? Neither had I. :)

It’s actually an inaugural race and will be in Sarasota, FL on February 8. I’m excited about the timing. There is a pretty small window here in Florida where any kind of distance training is somewhat pleasant. I think that date sets it up about as good as it gets.

I really need to find some local running buddies since I know that accountability is key in running and in so many other things in life. When the time gets closer, I’m going to be creating a Running/PiYo Training Plan and I’m excited about that.

I’m thinking I’ll have to do some of my training runs up in Sarasota, especially to get used to the bridge we’ll be running over. I know some of you run hills all the time, but bridges are about as hilly as we get!

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For now, I’ll be keeping to our weekly 5k run as a family – actually heading out to do that soon. I’m excited to start building a base of running over the next few months and am looking forward to crossing that finish line in February!

Are you training for a race right now? If so, which one?

I am excited to be a blogger for this event, chronicling my training and my experience at the race itself. I’m also really excited that the race organizers agreed to comp my entry in exchange for blogging – but I promise I’ll be keeping it real! :)

 

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New Challenges

Happy Labor Day!

After birthing two children, this day always reminds me of a different type of labor. :) It might be Labor Day, but it’s also the start of a new month and the end of summer. Well, for some of you – summer hangs around here in Florida much, MUCH longer.

September is going to be a busy month for me, but I can already tell it’s going to be a good one. I cannot BELIEVE that I only have one week left of the Back to School PiYo Challenge – time is flying by! I’ve been amazed at the results I’ve seen. I can’t wait to do a full “before/after” post, but my body feels completely different than when I started this Challenge. And you’ve already seen these results – I think things might have gotten even better since I took these photos. :)

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One spot that is still often a struggle for me and for some in my Challenge Group is healthy eating habits. Some of you who read this blog are AMAZING on this whole nutrition thing. Me? Not so much. I’m often falling into bad habits, especially when life gets busy.

Starting September 8, I’m going to be leading a FREE 5-Day Clean Eating Challenge.

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It is my hope that these 5 days will help us hit the “reset” button and focus on eating healthy. Everyone who signs up will be added to a private Facebook group where we will be checking in w/ what we eat and encouraging each other by sharing ideas about clean foods we have found and what is working for each of us. I think we often get stuck in bad habits because it feels too complicated to change. Hopefully this will help all of us start finding a “new normal.” 

What we focus on might be kinda basic for some of you, but sometimes it’s important to get back to the basics. And to hold each other accountable. And for some in the group? This whole “clean eating” thing is entirely NEW. I’m excited to see some people I really care about start making some positive changes in their lives.

Want in or know someone who might be interested? Email me at calliecowan@gmail.com with the subject line: CLEAN EATING.

Some folks have also asked me about whether or not I’m doing another PiYo Challenge. The answer is YES!

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The next PiYo Challenge will start September 15. If you’re ready to make a change to your workout routine (or maybe start one), and jump start your nutrition at the same time – all in the context of the support of a community of people doing the same thing you are – then I would love for you to be part of it. If you want info about the PiYo Challenge, email me at calliecowan@gmail.com and put PIYO CHALLENGE in the subject line.

Oh and guess what – if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can do both. :)

What does the term “Clean Eating” mean to you?

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The Importance of Having a Hobby

I recently took two solid weeks off from work and it was one of the best things I could have done. I hadn’t taken more than one or two days off at a time since Little Miss was born almost two years ago. I love my job and I didn’t think I “needed” a vacation. I was wrong. My Board of Directors knew it too (I’m the executive director of a non-profit so they are basically my “bosses”). They gave me no choice and told me I needed time away.

Okay, twist my arm.

Still, it was hard for me to schedule it in. No time seemed convenient. Thankfully, early August seemed like a slow time so I checked out for two weeks. I mean, I checked out. And somehow during that time, I found myself again.

You see, I have a job that I love and that I’m very passionate about – but it also has the tendency to consume me. Maybe that’s more my personality than the job, and maybe some of you can relate. I remember crying to my husband this summer, feeling like I had lost all sense of “me”. I felt very two-dimensional. The only things I ever talked about were my family and my job. That’s it. I didn’t feel like I had anything that was about “me”.

During the two weeks I had for vacation, I started throwing myself back into fitness and healthy living type activities. I did PiYo every day. I cooked healthy meals. I ate well. I worked out with friends.

Most of you know me for some type of fitness-related thing, but the people in my “real” life? Not really. Especially not since we moved to our new town about two years ago. I felt like it was part of me that had been lost. I’m so glad it’s back.

I came back to work and a co-worker said, “It’s like you’re a whole different person!” I said, “No, I just feel like ME again.” Her response, “It’s nice to meet YOU.” :)

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I have to say, it’s nice to see ME again too. We can be involved in a lot of things, a lot of really GOOD things, but we all need a hobby. We all need something that is “ours”. As a working mom, I need more than just my family and my job to talk about – stay at home moms can probably relate too!

We all need some “fluff” in our lives. That’s what I keep calling it. Yes, fitness/healthy living is VERY important. But compared to some of the serious things I deal with at work, it is “fluff”. It’s the fun stuff I enjoy doing – not an obligation. That includes blogging. That includes the Beachbody coaching I’ve started doing. It’s my fun “fluff” – a welcome balance in my life.

I have a friend who is also the Executive Director of a non-profit – she runs a maternity home that is open 24/7. She has a hard time with this balance too, as you can imagine. She recently started taking ballet classes as her “fluff”. She is loving it – when she is there, she is focused on the movements, not on the stresses of her job.

Other hobbies might be crafting, writing, traveling – something outside of the rigors and pressures of your daily life. Something that is fun. Something that is a release. Because you know what? Once you find that, you’ll also find that you’re more productive at work. You’re more present with your family. You’re more fulfilled – and that not only benefits YOU, it benefits those around you.

SO…what is your hobby? If you don’t already have one, start brainstorming – and let me know what you decide to do! 

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