Where My Feet Have Carried Me

Where My Feet Have Carried Me
By Michelle Roberts

fullsizerender-2Our guide walked the path in search of the trailhead that would take the three of us to the top of the mountain, stopping long enough to share his advice about what to do if we encountered a bear. Then the very different advice if, instead, we faced a mountain lion. When he found the trail it was overgrown and, as promised, led almost straight up over loose rock and rough terrain. Convinced he couldn’t manage the hike himself, he said his goodbyes and we were on our own. Almost immediately, my Florida lungs protested. My legs had in their history a full marathon and logged 1,500 Moon Jogger miles for several consecutive  years – they’d be fine. But my lungs, they were accustomed to the hills of Tallahassee not the altitude of Whitefish, Montana.

I stayed at the back and stopped several times to catch my breath, slowing down Mary and Kevin whose lungs were younger and had fewer complaints. The third time they stopped to find me several yards behind with hands on my knees and breathing heavy, I told them to go on without me. Not because I didn’t think I could finish but embarrassed by my slow progress.

“Nope. All three of us or none of us. All the way to the top.” Mary said with a much better memory of the advice we’d just been given. “Look. There’s the tree line! We’re so close.”

So I continued on with my patient new friends, stopping several times with a few more “almost there”‘s from them. Enough to know they couldn’t be trusted as I was urged on a hundred yards at a time until it was finally true. We were at the top, standing in a clearing with a view of the gorgeous Flathead Valley below. Totally worth it! Like we’ve all learned from those first 5k’s, Halfs and Full Marathons – finishing is it’s own reward. The journey doesn’t have to be pretty because seeing the Finish Line is always breathtaking.

Those were the only real miles I logged in Montana while I was there for those five days in October but it was because of Moon Joggers that I’d made the trip at all. I recently found the email I sent to Laura Munson, the New York Times Bestselling author of “This Is Not the Story You Think It Is…A Season Of Unlikely Happiness”, in April 2013 after she shared my submission on her winter blog series about Community (http://blog.lauramunson.com/tag/filipino/).

“This is the second year I’ve participated in your winter series and your Haven Writing Retreat in Montana is on my list of steps toward taking my writing more seriously. I’m moving forward and appreciate the generous writers like you that I’ve met along the way.”

I didn’t know then that it would be another three and a half years before I’d board the plane to Whitefish. Writing for the Moon Joggers blog and the encouragement and support of the friends I made here are what put me on that path. With over 5,000 miles logged since January 2013, so much of my writing has happened in my head in those hours spent alone in the quiet of the outdoors or on the drives to and from half marathons in New Orleans, Atlanta, Jacksonville and my hometown for Space Coast every year.

More than the writing itself, the realization that I have something to say and reasons for putting it all on paper came with time. Reading the posts from members around the world, all with their own unique voices and powerful stories to contribute to the group, gave me the courage to include mine. On the very first day of the retreat, I sat in the room with ten other writers and shared aloud what we’d just written from a 5 minute prompt. It would have been so intimidating just years before. But I knew that Laura brought together the same kind of safe, supportive community that Angie created with Moon Joggers in 2013. I recognized them right away. We were there to bear witness for each other, often with very personal stories that left us open and vulnerable. So similar to the painful, uplifting and often triumphant experiences Moon Joggers share with each other.

At Moon Joggers we’ve learned how powerful the emotionally healthy cousin of comparison can be – communion. The balm of thinking “Me, too.” and the satisfaction in reaching for someone who isn’t sure they can move forward with just a few kind words to set them in motion again. While at the same time walking in the beaten path of those who’ve traveled before us. In witnessing each other we can see so clearly the lie in “I can’t” and borrow the bravery we need from others who believe in us when we aren’t yet convinced.

I’ve learned from Moon Joggers to infuse my actions with meaning. So many miles are dedicated to loved ones lost, others who are ill or injured and the charities who support them. Each of your stories inspire us to create intention for good to come from lonely or painful places. I thought of all of you when I scheduled my trip to Montana and took the Empire Builder train from Chicago to Whitefish in honor of my Grandfather who worked as a porter on the Pullman trains in the 40’s and 50’s. I stayed with a friend in The White Hall hotel in downtown Chicago where he bartended in the 60’s and toasted to him inside its dark paneled walls. My Moon Jogger friends were with me through the loss of my father in January 2015 and registering for Haven Writing Retreat was my way of willing this gift to myself in his name instead of waiting – something my father would have wanted for me since he encouraged my writing from an early age.

When I had my hour alone with Laura at the end of the retreat she planned to spend it talking about my writing practice and focus on my current project. The trouble was I went Haven Writing Retreat without either one. But I’ve learned from Moon Joggers that progress beats perfection every time. That as long as I’m moving forward I can be sure I’ll get to where I’m going. I knew my ten new Haven friends would somehow play their part in my journey. On that last day I left for home confident that the road ahead doesn’t have to be clear as long as I trust my guides. And steer clear of bears and mountain lions.

ABOUT: Michelle Roberts lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with her husband, Paul, and two children, Ashleigh (14) and Philip (11). She ran her first 5k in October of 2012, her first half marathon in February of 2013 and her first full marathon in February 2015. She was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2001 and maintains a healthy balance without the use of medication thanks to a job she loves, a supportive family, regular exercise, her writing and therapy. A wonderful life of “Both Hills and Valleys”.

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Where My Feet Have Carried Me by Iva

Where My Feet Have Carried Me
By Iva

footart

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Because Cancer Sucks!

Because #cancersux
by Lisa Leonard

 

The day before the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in Savannah, I wrote the following in my running journal:

 

lisaTomorrow, I run in your honour. I’ve trained for a year. You’ve fought your own fight nearly five. You’ve come close to giving up, I know. So have I. But you didn’t. And I won’t.

Last week you faced your fear and had surgery. Today, nerves are threatening to consume me. But I look at the orange band on my thumb that reminds me, and I know those 13.1 miles tomorrow are nothing compared to what you’ve done, battling doubts and fears and pain and exhaustion.

I love you, Mom. 

#cancersux

 

You see, my mother has cancer. Leukemia. Lymphoma. Complications. I made the decision late last year to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll in her honour. For eleven months, I’d trained, using the Couch-to-5K and then the Runkeeper app plan for beginners. The last month or so of training brought far fewer miles than I had planned…Too many distractions beyond my control – jury duty, mom’s splenectomy, fears of a stress fracture in my left foot with its week of no running, Hubs’s stomach virus. Excuses.

Two days before my race, Hubs and I had arrived in Savannah. A day to loosen my legs after the six-plus hour drive from Tennessee. A day to rest. An evening to carb load with a home-cooked meal. (Did I mention Hubs is an excellent cook?!?)

Sleep eluded me…Hubs snored…I tossed and turned…The couch became my bed…Every noise outside startled me – traffic, fencing set-up, laughter from the Treylor Park (the quirky restaurant next door)…

I’d set my alarm for 5:00, but I was up by 4:45. Coffee and a half bagel with a couple tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter were choked down, threatening to return as my jitters multiplied. I double-checked my running duds. I watched part of an infomercial. I showered. I pinned my bib to my shirt. Hubs attached my timing tag to my shoe. I finished dressing. I found my gum, Honey Stingers, and Chapstick, securing them in the left pocket of my running skirt. I untangled my headphones, debated whether or not to take them, and then attached them to my iPhone.

My nerves were overwhelming me.

Breathe…

Forty-five minutes until start time. Another teacher from back home who was also running (we’d happily discovered we were both doing this a few weeks earlier) texted me that she and her hubs were on their way down Bay Street to find our corral. Time to get real.

lisa2Music blared in the distance, both behind and ahead of us. Last minute announcements were made, and then the count-down was delayed due to a medical emergency at the start line. Lovely… More nerves.

The starting horn finally sounded, and wave by wave, the corrals were released. Nearly thirty minutes after the initial horn, our wave reached the starting line, and we were off…

The first seven or so miles, Colleen and I hung together. Sometime after that, I’d fallen behind.  My sporadic training the last month had caught up with me.  But every step beyond seven and a half miles was a step further than I’ve ever run.  Thinking of Mom kept me going.  She was back home, still recovering from her splenectomy – and in pain – so that hot-spot developing on my left big toe, the nagging pain seeping into my hips, the heaviness in my legs?  I ignored them and gutted on, walking a bit longer than I’d planned, but running on. The Avett Brothers’ “Ain’t No Man” played on iTunes. Perfect song at the perfect time.

The thought of finishing in three hours toyed with me. But by then, I’d also lost sight of the three-hour pacer, but according to my Garmin, I was still close. Unimaginable, given I’ve done almost all my training on a treadmill…a lying treadmill that had teased me into thinking I was running faster than reality, AKA on pavement. A woman escorted by two bicyclists passed me with less than half a mile to go…the female marathon leader! An inward smile bloomed when I realized she’d finish double the distance I was covering in less time than me. But finish I would!

Emotion overwhelmed me. After I found him in the crowd, I sobbed into Hubs’s shoulder across the spectator barrier fence. I’d finished.  A half marathon. Thirteen point one miles.

For Mom.

Because CANCER SUCKS.

 

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Where My Steps Have Taken Me

Where My Steps Have Taken Me
By Catherine Campbell

My steps have taken me along the path of fitness for 80 years. Actually that occurs in two days. My running days cartherinemay be over so I now return to hiking. I did a lot of that in Holland, England and Spain prior to learning to run at the age of 72 when my daughter , Sheila was my coach.
I have loved running,especially the 2 half marathons I did last year, and all the 5K, 8K and 10Ks that kept me training over the years. After the last race my body started to complain and so I’m giving it a break. Maybe another 8K next fall?
I enjoy being a member of Moon Joggers. It is amusing to read of a 40 to 50 year old feeling too old to run. However, I know that we all have our individual challenges which the Moon Jogger community
helps us resolve.
So, walking, hiking or running, I will keep moving and try to remember to log my miles.

 

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Chase the Sun Global Running & Walking Challenge

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Where My Feet Have Carried Me

Preface: This may be the only blog you read about running that does not mention running. I thought about editing it to mention running, I thought long and hard, and I decided against it. This story about my life is such a perfect metaphor for why I run, much as running is a perfect metaphor for my life. Let’s face it, without the running community, running would be the loneliest activity in the world. But the running community happens to be the most supportive group of humans I’ve ever met, so please enjoy this read, and take it upon yourself to apply it your own life, whether you run, walk, hike, roll, or do whatever, that inspires you to be a Moon Jogger!
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On my most recent adventure, it didn’t hit me till about 300 miles in how incredibly alone I was. Not lonely, but alone. I was struck by the sheer number of things I do alone, and happily, that most people never do. Most people don’t even go out to eat alone, much less find themselves in such states of aloneness that they cannot rely on a loved one for help if they chicken out. It’s a consequence of a fluid intermeshing of my career, my personality, and my complete lack of choice in the matter. And I have some advice for you if you’re looking to beef up your bucket list:

Get lost. A lot. Get lost alone.

Suddenly realize you are no less than 30 miles from the nearest one-horse-town, and that your car is a bit old and unstable, and that you have no cell signal. Let that terror sink in, but not for long. Admire the near untouched scenery while you imagine yourself calmly formulating a survival plan in a worst case scenario, which you will no doubt enact immaculately, returning with yet another great story.

Go on long hikes and camping trips alone. Go to unfamiliar environments. Research the wildlife before you go, then feel that blissful terror and awe again when you realize you just bent down to tie your shoe, and that a solitary, petite female human in a crouched and blinded position on a rocky mountain outcrop is an easy target for a mountain lion. Then get up, feel the weight of the large knife you had the forethought to bring, feel the weight of your wits, and of your ever increasing knowledge of the world around you that you consume with the fervor of a starving dog, resume your apex predator stance, and continue your journey with cautious confidence, watching for danger while simultaneously tuning out everything that isn’t the stunning vista in front of you.

Go visit a friend who lives in one of the most amazing places on earth, which happens to be quite remote. Have car trouble on the day you plan to leave. Realize no one can help you for at least a week. Get it figured out. Then be sad when you do because now you have to leave.

Go to a foreign city and go for a walk and suddenly realize you are miles off course and not only is your grasp on the language shaky, but that almost no one there speaks yours at all. Then figure out what to do, and come home with a great story (but come home!).

Get lost in a city that’s not far from yours at all. Sometimes that can be more fascinating and terrifying than anything.

Jump off high cliff into water, just because you were dared, (but make sure others did it safely before you), because you are more scared of that than everyone else, and that makes you feel quite alone.

Learn to find your bearings. Utilize the guidance of the sun, and know how to react if the day is overcast. Read, and observe, all you can about your world. Learn to quickly identify your relevant strengths and weaknesses. Feel the weight of your wits as you figure it all out, and be glad in the stories you’ll have to tell. Get very in touch with your universe or your higher power, just the two of you.

Then go back home. Pay your bills. Maintain your home. Care for your family. Set good examples. Feel the weight of the burdens of your loved ones on top of your own. Face everything you are required to face as a member of society. You’ll have great stories to tell from all that too. You’ll have so much advice to give about being a good grownup. You’ll be full of helpful analogies. You’ll mostly be winging it, for as long as you live, but your heart is in the right place, and you’re not naive, so it’s okay if people listen to what is, at best, your educated guess. After all, you must know a thing or two about something.

And next time you go get lost, after all that time in the real world being un-lost and un-alone, and everything is suddenly terrifying and amazing, and you have no one to help you but yourself and your wits and your luck, the lions just won’t seem that scary anymore.

-Maggie Hills

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I Am Runner 5

I Am Runner 5.veronica

The alarm goes off at 4:30. Headset, headlamp and phone are at my bedside, fully charged. Running shoes and clothing, carefully chosen, wait on the floor within arm’s reach.

In a few minutes I’m ready and standing in front of my house. This day and time were chosen because of near 100% certainty that conditions would be optimal for me to pound out a 5K as hard and fast as my feet can carry me with no traffic or obstacles to hold me back. I’m in the dark, alone, running the Zombies, Run! virtual race. I am Runner 5, and I am going to save the world.

veronica2I start the app and immediately become immersed in the story. Bone-conduction headphones allow me to hear every noise around me, even though I can’t see past the beam of my headlamp. I push harder and harder as the mission proceeds from clip to clip, the hardcore playlist driving me to run faster, stronger, pump those arms, watch the trail, listen for danger and zombies in the darkness. Every inch of my body feels the strain and my lungs burn as I struggle to take in enough air to keep from passing out.

Rounding the corner by the high school, I know the end is close but I’m convinced either my heart will explode or my legs will fall off before I’m told I can stop running. My God, I don’t run this hard in a road race with REAL people! Suddenly, it’s over. Mission complete. I slow to a walk and turn around for home, grinning like a maniac. I check my time and wonder if I can beat it in a day or two, or if I should run the 10K version and see how fast I can cover that distance.

veronica4In a few days, I’ll go to a meetup with other Runner 5’s in the area and we’ll run the mission at the same time if not together, then meet afterwards for beers and food. We all have our own “Runner 5” names – mine is Valkyrie5. We don’t compete. We love Zombies, Run! and we love the community we’ve built around it, and that’s what brings us together and motivates us to get out there and run or walk on days we’d rather not. All our times will be automatically posted by the app on a “leaderboard” along with thousands of other Runner 5’s across the globe who over the course of a few weeks will save the world over and over again. My screen name will be Duckstomper. After Nov. 1 passes, we’ll all have to content ourselves with going back to the “regular” storyline and trying to guess what Runner 5 is going to get into next, without spoiling it for people who are just getting started.

veronica3I am Runner 5. Raise the gates…covering fire…and…GO!

I’m V and I wrote this story. Join me for a run and some nice craft beer/pub food after!

 

*Be sure to sign up for our 2017 main event: CHASE THE SUN!  When you sign up you’ll get  a discount code to save 15% on all of our 2017 vrtual races!  Sign up for Chase the Sun now and use promo code CHASE20 to save 20% HERE.

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Where My Feet Have Carried Me

WHERE MY FEET HAVE CARRIED ME
By Dawn C. Hansen

794673_1274_0021When we start out walking our feet take us around our parents’ home. As we grow, the places our feet take us changes. From the house where we grew up, to school, college, the service, or a career, around the block, and around the world.

I’ve had the privilege of walking around Duluth, MN, Plattsburg, NY, Burlington, VT, West Germany (yes, West Germany, they were still divided when I left), Luxembourg, Belgium, the inaugural Goofy Challenge and a Half, in Orlando, FL, and many other places across the country, and around the world.

I’ve started races I’ve had to withdraw from, and others where I’m in after the course has closed resulting in DNFs, everyone’s least favorite acronym. There are always reasons to run, and times to acknowledge the limitations of not just your feet, but your body too.

This year my feet should have carried me along the shore of Lake Superior for Grandma’s marathon and through Missoula, Montana. Unfortunately, I only made it 13.5, of my planned 26.2 miles for Grandma’s in Duluth, MN. Heat finished that race, but I got to cheer in two friends, and fellow Moon Joggers, Jan Haley, and George Frew, as they finished their first marathon.

794639_1051_0031Presently I spend more time cruising around Anchorage, Alaska, but in September I finished my last leg on the Klondike Road Relay. Ten legs beginning in Skagway, Alaska, running through British Columbia, Canada, and finishing in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, for a total of 110 miles. I’ve walked, and run everything from a mile, to Anchorage’s own 49k in the 49th state. I have sworn off winter marathons years ago; and then did Rock – n – Roll NOLA this past February. My fifth distance event in the winter, and I’m signed up for Dopey, at Disney World, in Orlando, FL, this coming January. Did I mention training for these distance events in warm climates, while it is cold in the North, is a challenge? I train on snow, and ice, so I can go run in a skirt, light weight t-shirt and regular running shoes after wearing studded shoes for training. I can hear you laughing! As well you should. I break every rule of running, and then sign up for another race, but like everyone reading this. I’m in very good company.

Some of you, I’ve had the privilege of meeting at races outside, others I look forward to meeting in the near future. I’m looking forward to our Moon Jogger Ultimate Meet Up, when my feet, and yours, can take us around some of the sights of Utah, and beyond.

These are just some of the places my feet have taken me. Where will your feet take you?

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Join Moon Joggers Now and Start Logging Your Miles!

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What is Moon Joggers?

Mars ad3Moon Joggers is looking for new crew members from around the globe, of all ages and fitness levels. This is a WORLDWIDE running and walking group. Connect with participants from around the globe!  We accept new members ALL YEAR LONG! Join us! And backlog your miles to January 1, 2016 if you’ve been keeping track. Move up the Moon Jogger rankings as you log your miles!
EVERY MILE MATTERS!

If you have a running group or something similar, we can even set up a team for you so you can see each other’s stats and how many miles you log as a group!  Email your team name to us at moonjoggers@gmail.com and we can set it up.

*So far we’ve logged almost 8 million miles! We need your miles to help us get 48 million by the end of the year!

Check us out on FACEBOOK!

FREE REGISTRATION: Free registration allows you to set up your own personal log on our website and participate in our 2016 Mercury Rising mission!

SET UP YOUR LOG HERE!

“We will laugh with you, cry with you, comfort you, bolster you, praise you, give you pointers, answer your questions, celebrate with you, mourn with you.. we don’t HAVE to actually see your face to care. And knowing that we all care will make the paths we share smoother, easier and more fun!!”  
-Carolyn Guhman, New Orleans

How It Works:

1. You sign up and set a goal for how many miles you will run in 2015 and which ranking you will achieve.

2. During the year you log your miles on our website. You’ll move up the rankings as you reach your goal.

3. Along with achieving your personal goal, all of your miles contribute to our grand total of miles to get to Mars!

*Check out the OFFICIAL RULES HERE (find out how to include biking and swimming miles too)

Join the Moon Jogger Facebook Community Group!

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My Life Changed Four Years Ago

344944_205061913_MediumMy life changed four years ago……my oldest son was getting ready to leave to the Air Force and I went for a run with him and sadly I could not even make it half way around a city block. I was embarrassed, I always tried to lead by example, I watch my weight, I do not smoke, do not drink, eat healthy and am very active, just was not able to run around a block and he did not let me live it down….lol. So that was the start of my running journey, I signed up for my first 5k and was instantly hooked. I have never looked back and only wish that I would have stumbled upon my love for running long ago. In the past 3 ½ years I have 2 full marathons, almost a dozen ½ marathons, with countless 10 miler, 10ks and 5ks on the books. I am in the middle of training for my 3rd full marathon and this one I am doing in honor of my son, I will be running the Air Force Marathon on September 17th and my son will be running the ½ marathon. I love the long runs, I can run for hours and never get tired of the beauty of running. I love the stress release, the bonding with friends, and the me time, it’s my clarity in life.

 

Running has changed my life in every aspect. I truly believe that God put the love for running in my heart when he knew I needed it. Both of my sons are grown and are finding their passion in life and I so badly needed something for myself. I lost my sister to suicide 4 years ago and when I thought I would never find closure and peace within myself I was able to do that through running. I healed through every run, I was able to do nothing but think for sometimes hours at a time while I ran, I was able to cry, laugh and just heal all my hurt and guilt. Running was and is my healing time.

 

Running has brought old friends back into my life and introduced new friends that I have to share all my running moments with. I have the best husband in the world, he is there for almost all my races to cheer me across the finish line. I get to run races with my son when he comes home on leave. I am so thankful that I failed at my first attempt to run, it only made me more determined to succeed at it and in that failure I found one of the best things in life……RUNNING!!!

-Joyce E. Garnet

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