A Marathon is a Terrible Idea (and I couldn’t be more excited)

When you’re fit, fast, and ready to rock, tapering can be a real nightmare. Lucky for me I don’t have that problem because I’ve been in “rest and recovery” mode since day one of Operation Flying Pig 2017.

No real training = No real taper. Problem solved! (don’t ask me how I feel about that statement at mile 23.)

I’m 48 hours away from race time, so in about…um… 52ish hours or so I’ll be saying “I’m never doing this again” annnnd two days later I’ll probably be making plans for my next marathon.

But seriously, a marathon is a terrible idea.

When I decided to run this thing I was averaging 20 miles a month. Yes, a MONTH. Yes I KNOW how far a marathon is, but I’m easily inspired by people like the Halls and I love committing to big things and great causes, so here we are.

I did manage to get myself up to 40 miles one week, and over the past three months I only needed to take two weeks off because the running made my bum hip angry. That’s a pretty big deal for me and my old bones!

I’ve since found a solid Active Release Technique (ART) doc who worked the gravel out of my soft tissue and informed me that the bad habits I developed while running/limping on my bum hip means that I need to essentially relearn how to run.

Not exactly what a girl wants to hear weeks before her first 26.2, but I’ll work with what I’ve got, and I’ve got a lot.

A lot of training? No. Experience? Also no, but I do have complete faith in my cause and a ton of support from awesome people, and that’s far more important than fartleks.

I’m so close to my fundraising goal for The Steps Foundation – Shamida Orphanage project, and that’s super exciting for me! I’ve also received countless positive vibes, and that’s really really cool! No matter what my bum hip or my running log say, I’m ready for this!

For maybe the first time in my life I’m going into a race without anything to prove. Neither myself nor anybody else has any expectation for me to run particularly well or particularly poorly. My only goal is to finish the race knowing that I made my steps matter even if those steps are really freaking slow.

I want to raise funds and raise awareness for an organization that’s really remarkable while doing something new and fun. (Assuming running 42 kilometers is actually “fun”)

Running and I have a lot of history. Some good, and some not so good. The marathon and I are new to each other, and no matter what happens on Sunday, it’ll be a first date I never forget!

Jump for Steps

To make a donation to my cause, click this link, or shoot me an email at morgancasey813@gmail.com

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When insecurity runs the show

Running has always been something that’s made me feel really confident, but only when it’s going well.

When it isn’t going well, running actually makes me feel extremely insecure. I spent a lot of years with my self worth tied up in how I finished in a race, how many miles I logged, and how I looked in my run buns and crop top. Self doubt has limited me in so many ways, but signing up for the Flying Pig Marathon was a personal statement telling those feelings to get in the back seat where they belong.

Despite being driven around by insecurity for a long time, I won’t call myself an insecure person. At my core, I am not an insecure person. I am the same person with or without feelings of insecurity; I just live more boldly and have a lot more fun when I take control of the wheel.

I’m running Flying Pig for a great cause that’s become part of the life carved out for me. I signed up for the marathon feeling some insecurity, but knowing that it’s going to be OK, because I’m running the race, not my feelings. My feelings of insecurity have sustained an overuse injury, and will be sitting on the sidelines until further notice.

I am by no means discrediting the realness of feelings. Feelings are real things that affect us deeply, but they are neither prophecies nor personality traits. Simply believing that you can’t do something because you’re “too insecure” is total crap.

Whether that something is running a marathon, singing karaoke, or letting yourself laugh until you cry, you’re cheating yourself out of some really great parts of life by clinging to your insecurity blanket.

And to be honest, when you let feelings of insecurity run your life, you’re cheating other people out of the best parts of you too.

Can you really love someone with all your heart if insecurity snatched up a piece of you and ran with it in the other direction? If feelings of insecurity are running the show, there will always be something holding you back from living the life that was carved out just for you.

Everything that happened to you that caused insecurity is real, but those are happenstances and you are a person. You are the driver. It’s your life.

Run it.

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The Hall Steps Foundation – Right Place, Right Time

I have been a runner since before I could walk. I’ve always loved running and found an indescribable freedom in running until my legs just couldn’t take another step. Despite this freedom, there was also a twinge of apprehension and self doubt in my heart. When I was little I was actually afraid to run a race unless my dad could be at the finish line waiting to scoop me up in his arms!

I eventually outgrew that particular fear, and went on to run through high school and into college. When a hip fracture ended my career in 2013, I felt pretty bitter about all things related to running, and the Steps Foundation came into my life at the perfect time.

The Hall Steps Foundation is a non-profit movement to fight global poverty through better health. As a public health professional and lover of planet earth and her citizens, this mission is super duper important to me! 😊

Steps has encouraged me to make a commitment to my own health and well-being while serving as a huge motivator for taking my own own “steps” toward alleviating suffering and helping lift people out of poverty.

Seeing Ryan and Sara use the sport to make the world a better place restored my faith in the power of running, and vowed to eventually lace up my running shoes and join the movement. I’ve spent the years since my hip surgery afraid that my steps wouldn’t matter because I’m not the runner I used to be. Much like my fear of racing without my dad at the finish line, I grew out of the fear, so here I am, ready to make the world a better place, one STEP at a time!

Stay tuned! Lots more good stuff to come about Steps, the Shamida Orphanage, and my journey to completing my first marathon, an endeavor nicknamed Operation Flying Pig 2k17! 🐷

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Little Mo racing into Daddy’s arms, circa 1997

Frundraising update!

I am one week into Operation Flying Pig 2k17 and thanks to generous donors I’m 30% into my fundraising goal and very excited!

To donate, go to my crowdrise site, or email me at morgancasey813@gmail.com!

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I think this applies to you, no matter how you voted.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

Let us not forget that while some things are out of our control, we have something so much greater than hate, fear, and negativity.

Let us not forget that one man in a position of power is only one man, and in our nation has always been great and will continue to be great. As long as there are people here who have hope even in the darkest and most difficult of times, America is not lost.

Let us not forget because one man is a womanizer who boasts of sexual assault that we can and must still teach our sons to be thoughtful and respectful people who value their families and grow up to be men who use their voices not to bully, but to build others up.

Let us not forget that one man may be white and wealthy, but we are all worthwhile regardless of race, religion, SES, or sexual orientation, and we are all loved equally and unconditionally by a love so much greater than ourselves.

Let us not forget that one man rode through the streets of Boston 240 years ago to warn of the first of many battles fought to protect this great nation, and let us not forget the brave men and women who have made huge sacrifices to continue to protect us.

Let us not forget that one man came to this earth to teach us how to love one another. He came to teach us to be patient, kind, and humble in all circumstances, to befriend the friendless and embrace the outcasts. Let us not forget that this very same man died to grant us the grace, mercy, and peace we do not deserve.

Let us not forget that one man, woman, or child is all it takes to make a difference. You can be black, white, or anything in between. You can be LGBTQ or something else entirely. You can be a cop, a cashier, or a rocket scientist. You can be young or old, rich or poor, Muslim, Wiccan, vegan, Hufflepuff, or choose to wear no label at all and it doesn’t matter as long as you are willing to do something good for someone who can give you nothing in return.

Let us not forget that the sun will continue to come up in the morning, and what matters at the end of each day is that you took hold of any fear, doubt, or hatred sinking like a stone in that little heart of yours and you tossed it out to make room for what’s been yours to claim all along. Love.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” – 1 John 4:7

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I’ve Got a Friend in Me

A really cool thing happened yesterday. I was rocking out to my Pandora and straightening up my room when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and something crazy happened. For the first time in my life, I wanted to be friends with the person I saw there.

There was nothing particularly eye-catching about the girl in the mirror. She was sporting my usual hairstyle, a “Katniss braid,” and my preferred clothing of running shorts and a hoodie. She wore minimal makeup and had no extraordinary features about her appearance. The girl in the mirror was a very average looking girl on a very average day. And yet, there was something about her that I wanted to have.

Now let’s backtrack a little bit. I’ve been checking out women for years now. I’m always seeing other women and thinking about how much better my life would be if I had what she has. Maybe she has long legs, perfect hair, a tiny waist, or amazing abilities with liquid eyeliner. Most of the time, the important thing she has that I don’t is probably confidence, but I’ve fooled myself into believing a woman’s confidence comes from being naturally beautiful, talented, or by receiving the love of an adoring husband or boyfriend. It had only occurred to me earlier that day that maybe all of my problems in relationships, both in friendships and definitely with men, are caused by problems with myself, and maybe I need to work on my relationship with me if I ever want those to get any better. Perhaps my lack of confidence is simply the self-saboteur within me doing her job.

This idea seems like a no-brainer after my little epiphany last night.

And that brings us back to the girl in the mirror. She had what I’ve always wanted. She had that glow of confidence and a laughter in her eyes that only comes to those who have decided to let go of all the self-deprecating bulls**t and just finally be happy because dammit that’s what she deserves!

The girl in the mirror wasn’t just happy because she had a particularly wonderful day, or got some great news, or something else happened that made her momentarily happy. In all honesty, the girl has a lot going on right now, just like everyone else. She has grad school problems and financial problems and “what the hell am I going to do with my life?” problems that a lot of other twenty-somethings have right now. The girl in the mirror is a very average girl who did one very important thing.

She let go.

She Let Go

Click the photo to order this Susan Morsek print!

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Finding Joy in Pain

It’s funny how quickly we forget about physical pain, but emotional pain latches on to us like a parasite that won’t go away.

We stub a toe on the door frame and a month later we do it again. The brief physical pain is not enough of a consequence for us to learn from it. When it is our hearts that ache, pain becomes another matter entirely. Pain becomes a dark shadow looming over us wherever we go. It can be forgotten briefly, but then it rears its ugly head the next time we grow close to anyone. This kind of pain is a demon that claims your soul, even though it was nevertheless or sake in the first place.

For me, the relationship between physical and emotional pain is all too hauntingly real. A year ago I was doing the limbo with pain, and pain finally won. I had been playing chicken with an injured hip for about a year, and it wore me out.

The doctors gave me a cortisone shot to numb the pain of my impingement, and told me not to run until the shot was in full effect. During this time I would limp to the rec, climb onto the stationary bike, and attempt to maintain my fitness. The problem was, the shot didn’t help, and my biking sessions were interrupted with white hot knives stabbing my hip socket and searing flesh and bone. It was blinding, it made me nauseous, and I made my lip bleed trying to hold back tears. Athletes don’t cry.

After six weeks of this I went back to the doctor and had an MRI, hopeful that he had news that could salvage my season. He didn’t.

I had heard of femoral neck stress fractures before. I knew they were usually a death sentence to an athlete. I let myself cry.

The emotional pain of my injury subsided with the physical pain, as the end of summer drew near and my return to running seemed evident. I convinced myself to radiate positive vibes when I returned to the doctor for my follow-up MRI. This scan was going to clear me to return to running… Return to being me.

Instead, I was stabbed in the heart with a flaming sword that burned hotter than anything I had ever known. My soul was crushed with the blunt force of his words as the doctor delivered the news.

“Career over… Surgery… Didn’t heal a bit… Serious… I’m sorry… You’re done.”

I know emotional pain. I’ve lost people I love dearly, and this was that. I know it sounds crazy calling running, a simple verb, a friend, but that is what it is precisely.

Running was fun. Running was always there when I needed it to be. Running reminded me that it’s OK not to be perfect, and was always there to brighten my day. Running reminded me that I was special whenever I was feeling down. Running encouraged me to always keep trying to be better. Running kept me honest by not always letting me win, but rewarding me when I worked hard. Running was everything a friend should be. And now it is gone.

As with any death, I moved through the grieving process. I’m at the stage where I am so happy to have all these wonderful memories with running, but saddened that running was taken from me so young. And since I’m no longer an athlete, I can cry about it as much as I want to.

I’m able to take joy in other people’s running. For that I am grateful. I’m grateful for a lot actually. I’m grateful that the death of my running wasn’t exchanged for the death of a physical breathing soul. I’m grateful that my passion for running will never die, and that someday I can coach other athletes through their relationships with running. I’m grateful that someday, if I’m lucky, I can make friends with running’s cousin, jogging.

Even though I would trade this emotional pain for its physical counterpart any day, I remain grateful for it. I’m grateful that I had something to love this much in the first place, and I’ve learned that even in the worst of times there is joy beneath the pain. Sometimes it just takes a little digging to uncover it.

Image

It’s a little fuzzy, but you can see the fracture in the bottom of the neck of the femur, and the stress reaction was spreading upward. But in the pic on the right you can see how much better it looks! 🙂

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Facing Diversity

When I was in third grade social studies class we learned the word “diversity” as a collection of different cultures, races, and ethnic groups.  The teacher brought a black boy and a white girl to the front of the room during one of those lessons and asked us to point out the differences between them. Everyone took turns listing various traits such as “she has glasses and he doesn’t” and “He is loud but she is shy.” The one thing no student wanted to say was “he is black and she is white.”

Why is it that we are afraid to point out racial diversity?  Is it because we are too obsessed with political correctness, or because of the horrors of our past in the genocide of Native Americans and the maltreatment of Blacks that mar our image of the “all men are created equal” nation we claim to be in the Declaration of Independence? Why is it that a nation that’s called a “melting pot culture” cannot allow blurred lines to exist between these cultures?

There was a diversity event on campus earlier this year, but only minority students were allowed to go. White students, regardless of their country of origin, were not allowed to attend. While I am 100% in agreement with minority populations receiving access to special opportunities, this event should not have been considered an event for diversity due to the restriction on skin color of those in attendance. In fact, it limits diversity by reinforcing standards of segregation.

According to the dictionary, the word “variety” is a synonym of diversity.  We have all heard the phrase “variety is the spice of life,” and I propose we embrace this idea and spice up our “melting pot,” stir it around a little, and allow for some blending. Right now our “melting pot” sits in layers waiting for some brave souls to confront diversity and stir the pot for our own good. I can only hope it will be this generation of young professionals who will make a commitment to diversity as something we are equipped for when we realize that sometimes our differences are the things we all have that are the same.

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