Santa Bebe Came Into Town!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yesterday was Christmas 2015. In our household, that means, first and foremost, “Santa Comes into Town,” per Child of Mine aka COM.
Yes, He still believes in Santa, I let him play along, or he is he making me play along! I am beginning to wonder, who is fooling who?
Oh well!

As well, Christmas is a day my family, who believe that, Jesus Christ is born and comes to bless their loves. So, I honor them with the privilege of being with them in spirit. I grew up in a Christian household, and we got gifted on Christmas with new clothes, shoes, and feasted on all sorts of special foods and treats on this day!

For 2015, we spent Christmas Day at the Lakshmi Cow and Animal Sanctuary in Bangor, Pennsylvania, a 30-minute ride from where we live. We signed up to volunteer to feed the animals, and share a meatless potluck lunch. We also volunteered to carry a dish/es with us. Everybody we hung out with, we were meeting for the first time. But we did not feel like strangers.

In fact, from the time at the Animal Sanctuary, I learned two things:

  1. I am a small god; my conscious and soul is that which makes me.
    I had never thought of myself as a “small god”; I call myself “a human,” and that’s the way I live my life. I believe in the notion of communitarianism, human living, I believe in Karma, in horoscopes, zodiac signs. I believe that we are the pioneers of our own lives.

Still, I will embrace my new-found realization that, “I am a small god,” because I believe our conscious guides our every action or inaction, thoughts or pronouncements. Our conscious cannot let us rest happily, whenever we are not representing ourselves or our social relations as we should.

  1. If I refuse to smile, I refuse to see positive about myself, and deny to live the beauty of life. I get myself stuck in negativity, stress, depression and agony. [Well, I knew that, but I guess I simply refuse to practice it. That was my mantra in 2013 —time has taken its toll on me. Challenge 2016

Well, I learned a couple of more things

  1. Just because you are Hindu Indians does not mean you are not scared of cows. Quite like the common stereo type that, “Africans live in perfect harmony, with no fear of animals or bugs, because, “They are Africans, duh!” I was shocked on seeing our Hindu lunch-mates running away from cows, while COM and I got into their face, up and close, feeding and patting them!
  2. Cows eat rice, they eat watermelon, they eat carrots, they eat bananas. Cows eat the same foods at humans. They eat cookies as well! Oh! Do not feed cows, by throwing food on the ground or in the dung; it is dirty and will get them sick!
  3. When a cow grows old or dies, do not ask, if it is slaughtered for food. It is buried or cremated. I had to bite my tongue, and not talk about those yummy beef cows in Uganda, that also give us Mulokoni [soup from cow hooves], hide for mats, and accessories, horns for decoration and accessories too, and lots of milk.
  4. By the way, cows farms exercise preferential treatment of their cows! Those who specialize in beef or milk cows do not keep newborn calves, but pass them onto other farms happy to take care of them.
  5. Turns out, I do not have to schlep myself all the way to an Ashram in India for a mom-free retreat, when there is one in my neighborhood, called Aisha Vidya Gurukulam! They’ve got classes for kids, as well, on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month. Me thinks, at my convenience! I might have to check that out.

I am re-living the fact that:

  1. Children bring blessings. Plenty of COM’s Christmas gifts this year were courtesy of my BFF, and golden Aunty Jude. And thanks to Cyber Monday, if at all there was any difference in price! Yes, I contributed, but I cannot thank my BFF enough for her kindest generosity; she always comes through! Living proof, you don’t need religion to do good, if you have a human heart!
  2.  Surprises are always welcome and greatly appreciated! Child procrastinated on writing his “Dear Santa List,”Christmas and thought he was not getting any gifts. Then Christmas morning he climbs upstairs, face to face with a living room full of gifts! He loved all his gifts, so he said, when I asked him. No special preferences!
    He was animated about plenty of the gifts, “No! No way! It’s a Wii U control [from his Dad]…Now I can play with Cole!”
    “Minecraft Legos! We can build together, mommy,” immediately co-opting me.
    But then he saw The Guitar, “This is all I ever wanted!”
  3. Live Life freely, wildly and be earthy! Don’t ever be afraid to try something new. In fact, take your child to venture out with you. If it is to feed animals on a rural farm on Christmas Day, go for it. Meatless potlucks, partake, and bring a dish! Hang out with retirees, like you are one of them; there will always be commonalities — running, gym, health eating, and vegetarianism. Experience is the best teacher!
  4. Always prepared to be flexible. Allow another person to dictate your schedule, sometime. Done with the Christmas Day, I planned to pat myself on the back and pop my collar for my “Santa Hat-trick,” settle down, sip my ginger tea, and read 109 pages of #JanetHalley’s Genealogy of #FamilyLaw.

Child of Mine had other plans, to drag me into building a Minecraft Lego City. I went in kicking and screaming, but in fact enjoyed becoming a “Minecraft Lego City Builder,” earned a “Stamp of Approval,” and very much enjoyed learning to lego- and Minecraft-away! Learning never stops!

I guess my biggest challenge is gonna be, returning to myself. Saying no to all the luring things that are not good to this body. It is gonna take 20 lbs under, to measure success — I literally need to tuck away that much! Yes, I am sick and tired of seeing this face, and have to drop it. I cannot give up on myself! Never!

And throughout all my experiences, I reconnected with the value of keeping positive, and letting positivity surround you. Yet, I still heartily believe that it is ok to share one’s sorrow and sadness, as a phase in life, a true testament of the human spirit and beacon of hope and optimism that things will always get better!

This is to hoping that everybody, near and far, had a fabulous Christmas Day. Let us continue to give, let us continue to love, and be loved. Celebrate!

Advertisements

Follow Your Body and Pace, Not Your Garmin

SteamtownWhile plenty of running apps guide you on how to run a marathon, how to achieve your target finish time, the target pace, average speed, and all sundry, the best advice I have received is “Follow your pace and your body, not your Garmin.”

Not from Garmin, but a buddy, with whom I ran my first marathon. After a couple of marathons, I now know more than ever what he meant. For, I have paid the price each time I did not take his words seriously.

Sometimes I have listened too much to the running app instead of my body. Yet running apps lie, lie and lie! Those moments their GPS locator fails! It did not occur to me [stupid as it sounds] that running apps timing is based on GPS availability!

Well, I had never paid serious attention, until that sweet-bitter race! My finish time was totally different from the official marathon finish time, I learned that my running app did not correctly record the time, in plac
es it was MIA! It just continued on from where it had stopped recording.

Sometimes, I listen to the paces of fellow runners, and either follow, maintain my pace or slow down. This could either be both a good and bad for achieving my race goal.

A week and a-half ago, I did my second marathon of this year, after Boston in April. For this last marathon, it was a great idea to strike a balance between holding back and following “the crowds”. For most the run, I decided my own pace; oh I take that back, MapMyFitness [and sometimes RunKeeper] decided my pace.

Then and again, I tagged onto a runner or a group of runners. About three miles to finish, I found myself a pacesetter who pulled me along to finish. If she did not come along when she did, I would have slowed down, especially at Mile 25. I did not expect that nasty hill near the finish. Let me just say, from mile 23, it was all uphill. But she was still running as fit as a fiddle, and had done this race before.Pacesetter

So, I just tagged along, and that helped me conquer the steep hills. In fact, she saved me from a would-be shocking terrible finish. I had no idea, my apps were not telling me correct timing! I was holding back, thinking I am running faster than my target pace. All wrong!

I know that going too fast can also be detrimental to a good finish. Boston 2015 comes to mind. I had a great time, running out there with lots of cheers, the weather was not too bad and my legs felt in the best shape ever. I was not listening too much to my running app, but my body.

But for the last six miles, particularly the last three miles, I experienced the most difficulty, staying the course. Plenty of times, I wanted to quit and walk. It was gruesome climb after climb. The course is a pain in the butt, plus the wind velocity of the day. Damn! It beat me so bad. But I am proud because I had great pace/mileage.

For my next marathon, I plan follow my body and legs more than my Garmin. Yes, I am going to invest in a Garmin again! You know, ever since I started running with my phone [which is kind of for security purposes] I put off buying another Garmin after my previous one broke. I thought, running apps work as good as a Garmin.

But there’s no better GPS technology than a Garmin to locate you, while mobile network provider sleeps off. Implying, the “security phone” is actually not secure the entire course. Your mobile network provider might not rescue you, if you run off in the thicket of the forest!

Above all, remember to have fun running a marathon, color your hair, read the placards and give a power touch whenever a spectator asks for one. High 5 the kids, stretching their hand out to cheer you on along the course. Respond with a “Thank You” to the spectators as much as possible. It means a lot to acknowledge those who have foregone their sleep, standing out in the freaking cold, the heat or pollen to fuel you up.

Next up, Chic-Town?Pacesetter too

Running Alone, In a Sea of Runners

 [I wrote a week ago, on the even of Steamtown Marathon 2015, Saturday, October 10]

I recently reSteamtown Expo signad a blog thecatchmeifyoucan.com, the blogger explaining that she chooses to travel alone.

I do not! I neither choose nor like to travel alone, but I do. Nor do I choose to run alone, but I do.

As I sat in the cafeteria of Nazareth Students Center at Maywood University in Scranton, PA, reality checked me. I had just picked up my running Bib and pack for the 20th Steamtown Marathon 2015, happening the next day, October 11. I realized that I am actually running the marathon, as the only person I know.

I am running the marathon alone, in a sea of runners. How could that be? Just like my usual runs, which I always run solo. Even though the Pocono Area Running Club (PARC) exists in my neighborhood, but its schedule does not permit. See, I told you before, “Choice is Illusive!”

That I am running solo, is probably not unique.  I bet there are others like me. I have seen a couple of runners, sitting by themselves around here. But who knows if they are waiting for friends or family? Well, others, thankfully, have families who accompanied them to pick up their race packets. And will probably stand along the route to cheer them on tomorrow.

What is actually unique to me, is that I am the only black woman I have seen here, thus far. True, I have seen a couple of black men, but no black women in sight. And because this is America, we see color and race very quickly.
Steam town race packages

So, how do I always end up traveling and running solo? As I said, I do not choose solo life; it just finds me. But it is not a deterrence to me. I will still run, even if I am the only person I know. I registered alone, so why should I expect to meet anyone I know at the race!

Well, Boston/BA
A 201
5 was different. I expected to meet plenty of runners from my alma meter(s), even though I trained solo in Mt. Poconos. My first marathon – Standard Chartered Nairobi marathon, was the only time
I registered, trained, traveled and run with a group of friends. I enjoyed every bit of it! Matter of fact, I had a pace-mate.

Since then, I have registered for each successive marathon alone, and run so
lo. At the Edinburgh Marathon (EMF), I run solo, but expected to see my friends cheering me on along the route, and meeting me at the finish line. Bet
they underestimated how fast I run! I saw none along the route. In fact, they arrived hours after I was done running, and had downed umpteen gallons of beer!

Now, here at the Steamtown Marathon, I am eating my pre-race dinner, all alone, sitting alone, moving up and about alone. Deterred? I am not! And while I feel…

IMG_1445
…unprepared,   underprepared, undertrained and overwhelmed, I am ready to go out and conquer he World. Let’s Steamtown!

Ignorance is Bliss, Sometimes….

IMG_4254Literary societies pride themselves in the abundant availability of information. They privilege the ability to read and write, communicate and publish. Evidence of one’s name imprinted on a couple of publications, bestows a level of respect and titles, and a sit at several ‘high tables’ as a respectably important member of society.

In academia, we know the common saying, ˆPublish or Perish”. So real that tenure-track aspirants spend their maiden post-PhD years teaching, conducting research, writing and submitting articles to academic journals for publication. While publishing does not guarantee tenure track per se, at least it gains the pursuant important visibility and respect within and outside academia. Writing and publishing provide one a sense of comfort and confidence, adds a paragraph onto one’s literate portfolio, and the self-endowment to sit on one’s very high horse.

No doubt information is very useful, even to everyday living. We need information to operate the microwave, drive a car, assemble furniture, or cross the road. Even in our professions, passions and personal lives, access to information enables our career progression, personal growth, goal attainment and reaching for the moon. Information shapes our job applications, helps us prepare for big events like training for a marathon or nurturing our children into well-developed human beings. Yes! The ones who will take care of you when you are of age; I mean, put you up in a nursing home with abundant information sources – Television, remote control microwave, smartphone, book library, and a temper-pedic with a button to call room-service.

Sometimes, however, too much information is undesirable. Ignorance is Bliss!

For instance, right about now, I am overwhelmed with all the information flooding into my brain as I prepare for Boston Marathon 2015. I do not remember any other time, while training for other marathons I have done, receiving this much information. This time, plenty of emails, newsletters and bulletins mailed, e-updates, web information and running apps. Add to that, Webinars! Really?

Please believe me, I recently signed up for a Webinar on preparing for Boston 2015! I thought I was gonna be about logistics in preparation and getting to Marathon Day, April 20. I did not expect another academic seminar on “panic relief”, “fluid prescription”, “emotional” and “psychological” stamina during the marathon, or a whole chapter on Maslow!

Perhaps this is, indeed the “thrill of a Big City Marathon”? Perhaps it is just Boston

source B.A.A

source B.A.A 

Marathon? I can understand the ‘paranoia’ among the organizers, trying to deter another 2013 bombing. Understandably, extra caution needs to be taken to secure the race before and on the day, to ensure safety, confidence and security for all runners. It never occurred to me that some people actually suffer panic attacks during or in the middle of the race, requiring specialized treatment.

Yes, I know of colleagues who have run to the porta-potties to ease their running stomachs along the marathon course. I know folks who have taken a break, read a novel, adjusted their socks, and got back onto marathon route. None required specialized support and rescue, or sessions of webinar preparation!

In my imagination, running is something one picks up out of interest, as a hobby, ultimately becoming routine part of their existence. Granted, some folks run for their livelihoods and dedicate themselves to as much preparation, training and mentoring as possible. Still, I doubt any of them started out as “textbook runners”. Most of the world’s most elite runners are from very poor backgrounds, and some started out running with no running shoes. While, they have grown into world phenomena, I doubt all they sit around reading textbook from “theoretical runners”, on how to run a marathon. I am sure they might read up on what to expect when registration materials are sent out to them, and perhaps log onto marathon websites.

I must say, all this information is freaking me out! I already have enough responsibility keeping up with my run apps, reviewing run assessments and statistics after every run. Plus the pile of information on training and staying in the winter; buying the right running shoes; tapering; keeping the pace; nutrition and diet during training and on marathon, I am e-receiving from my team coach, and the B.A.A newsletters.

source B.A.A website

source B.A.A website

I want to stop reading, but that is not feasible. I am worried I will miss out on last minute details. Too much information seeping through my ears into my head on marathon preparation is making me crazy. I already have enough worries, whether I will attain my target pace and finish time. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that I have all the community support through my marathon running team, I am yet to meet, and the marathon organizers…But please, can I have no more information….Please leave me in my Blissful Ignorance.

April is All the Kool Kids Month! Let’s….!

It is here….and….It is Official! Sun over the First Spring Lake

April is All the Kool Kids Month! Go Figure!

Sorry y’all who don’t fit the profile! I know the, “Damn! Why was I born on March 31? I don’t blame you, I would too…If I happened to fall off the “Kool Kids Train”…oops 🙂

I love April! Nor more ‘smell’ of Spring; it is upon us…in all the realness! The rain, the sun, the pollen, the cooler temperatures, and the flower blossoms! I love April, because I share this coolness with my other most important person in this world…the one who gave me a life —Sweet dear Mother (April 6)! My very beautiful niece too, is also a Kool Kid (April 6).

I love April because it is National Families and Reading Month. Who does not love reading? Thankfully, I gave birth to a reader; we know how to turn the pages, one after another. Often sharing our “pages” with the “paws”,who surely enjoy the magic of our reading! This April, we are both reading to Child’s class: child is reading on April 22, and I will be Guest Reading on April 28 – which also happens to be my Birthday!

What else will I do for my birthday? Not sure yet, but traditionally since childhood, I celebrate and make merry! At the very least, we celebrated with popcorn and tea, which were very big features of birthday celebrations in my family household. Last year, Child treated me to a special birthday, when he won the Student of April Month, with a coupon for a free meal at Friendly’s. So, we decided to dine out on my Birthday! I am sure we’ll be doing something funky and blinged this year as well, including receiving lots of love with y’all! Right?Spring Tree Climber

What I am sure about this April, I will be running my maiden Big City Marathon, the oldest and most prestigious City Marathon born in 1897. It is The Big City Marathon, the rest are races, so they say. I have butterflies, self-doubts, thrills that a bride gets the morning of her wedding night. I am thinking, since I have never been one. Yet, I am super determined to do it. It is not my first time, but this is a Big Deal, Big City Deal! Lets…

Glad to be sharing April with some of the Koolest Kids on planet earth, especially since I am getting cooler myself! Now I know about Star Wars, Super Sonic, Beyblade and Wonder Woman. Now I know all about the solar system, and learning lots of astronomy, thanks to the Child. Plus, my birthday also happens to be International Astronomy Day.

Yeah! There are a couple of more Kool days you too would know about, if you were an April Kool Kid! I plan to enjoy a fair share of those, starting with Fooling Around (April 1); Read a Book with Children (April 2); Skip Work (April 3)Hug A Newman (April 4); Say no to Housework (April 7); Go Patriot [on the Boston Marathon trail] (April 20); pay homage to Earth Planet (April 22); Take a Chance (April 23); and Hug an Australian (April 26) who would become My Mate to Kiss (April 28), very appropriately on my Birthday! How Kool is That!

Oh! Before I go, CrowdRise asked me to tell you that I should ‘give up my birthday to raise money for my favorite cause. I think this is awesome! Wait, how did CrowdRise know that I was already raising $$$ for my favorite charity of the year? Y’all know that I am running Boston Marathon 2015 with the Tufts Marathon Team (TMT); yeah, that’s what’s up!

All proceeds from my fundraising are going directly toward the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition toward support for research on nutrition, obesity, hunger and famine, and to sustain programs that promote health and wellness across the university and within our host communities of Medford, Somerville and Boston’s Chinatown.  Here is the link to my fundraiser; your gift is big to me, and will mean a lot to me and everyone who benefits from Tufts University Medical Services! Please support, and make me the Koolest Kid, ever!

Happy Koolest Kids Month! Bring on April!

Geese on the LakeOnly one Big City Marathon

Anxieties in “Taper Period”, six weeks to Marathon!

Here we go running

Here we go running

I am feeling rather anxious, as I get into the “Taper Period” before D-Day, Monday, April 20. I am talking about running the Boston Marathon 2015. This is my first “Big City Marathon”, since I entered the world of marathon running. I feel inadequately prepared, mentally, physically and financially.

Last time I trained for a marathon, my mind, pockets and body were all in the right places. I was a smaller size than I am now, went out there and did it, and had the finances to afford all the costs of marathon training and preparations. I was also in winter-free zone, sans the pains and agonies of training under snowfall, icy roads, whirlwinds and below freezing temperatures. I had control over my work and family schedule, which afforded me much needed time for marathon preparation.

My work schedule allowed me to train during daytime, before picking up my child from school. I had the money to afford weekly gym time, where I dedicated at least half a day to strength training, massage and swimming. I had a supportive family that afforded me the luxury of weekend running, with free and reliable childcare when child was off school. I had a running team to motivate me, train with, and pound Saturday morning long runs on hills and dirt roads. Plus, another smaller group for occasional Sunday runs, when I felt like going extra miles. I had really have limits – I just ran without a structured training plan. It paid off, very well!

Now, I am in a different geographical zone, with different weather challenges that affect my training mood and achievements. Still, I have gone out as much as my schedule allows me, and avoid missing a scheduled run because ‘I do not feel like’. Yes! I am now running on a pre-planned training schedule on one of those running apps. No! I do not have, one, but three running apps monitoring my pace, mileage and time, plus two other fitness apps tracking my daily steps, plus a charity app to which I donate all my run miles.

I have different schedule challenges, though. I am without reliable family support to afford me training time when child is off school. I now do my long runs on Friday, when child is at school instead of weekends when I do not have guaranteed childcare. Implicitly, I have to take Friday off work to put in the mileage and more running hours when child is at school. I am not as financially comfortable as last time around. I started earning a bit of an income very recently, but it cannot afford me the “essential-luxury” of gym time for strength training and massage. But there is advantage to a non-permanent/non-fixed job; I can afford to schedule work on my off-training days, and put in half-day work weeks, to allow more training time.

I guess because I am on a pre-scheduled training plan, I feel more pressure to meet my goals unlike when I had own-scheduled training plan. I also feel bigger in size and slower. I am running solo, without a social running group to motivate me. All that combines to make me a nervous wreck sometimes. I am hoping that I will afford to take my child with me to see me run in Boston. I am yet to find out if any of my Boston-based friends would want to watch him.

It is six weeks to go, and that feels like tomorrow. I do not feel physically ready to hit 26.1 miles. While I have woke up before and run 24+ miles on my solo run, I am yet to run 20+ miles since I started training for the Boston Marathon 2015. Today will be the first day I am going out to do 20 miles. Hopefully, slightly more mileage and great speed. I am yet to consistently do in-house strength training, since I cannot really afford gym hours. I tried my hands on fundraising from friends to afford me a few gym hours, but that did not work the magic.

Still, my spirit is not down and out. I know I will do it! On race day, I have an entire team to learn to pace with on race day. I hope I do not go too fast or too slow. I hope I can achieve my goal; won’t say here..Hoping to put in more strength training, and to take my child with me…to Boston…

If you still wish to support my training preparations, I will be more than happy to receive your donation. Should you wish to contribute to my obligation to fundraise for my running team at Tufts University, kindly click on this link https://www.crowdrise.com/doreenlwanga. Let’s support, health, wellness and fitness!

Good Luck Charms for Runners

To quote Ulysses S. Grant,

“Everyone has his superstitions. One of mine has always been when I started to go anywhere, or to do anything, never to turn back or to stop until the thing intended was accomplished.”

I have my own superstitions, which I have also dubbed Good Luck Charms for Runners. Here is one, “If you run the first day of the month, you get good luck throughout the entire month. You will run literally all the 28 or 29 or 30 or 31 days of the month! Ok, maybe I made that up. At least I live by it, and it works for me! Try it; you may like it!

I consciously try to go for a run every first day, and last day of the month. So, I am ‘haunted’ throughout the month to stay on course. Plus, Monday is a Running Day for me, since I joined my first “Hash” with the Kampala Hash House Harriers (KH3) in Uganda back in 2011. Though now I physically run solo where I live [except once when I did the New Years Eve Run], I feel and stay part of a running community.

I virtually run with KH3 on Monday, even though their weekly six O’clock run happens before or after mine. I am subscribed to a couple of running Apps –Runkeeper, MapMyRun and MiCoach, through which I follow my running-mates around the world. Following my friends on mobile Apps helps boost my morale and commitment to keep running, always aiming to top the “Leadership Table” every week and at end of the month. I enjoy observing their running and other fitness activities, which boost my running morale.

Thankfully, I have started off March running the 1st day, and the 1st Monday. The last week of February 2015, I put in 47 miles in four days. My target of 50+ and five days did not happen due to a combination of necessary rest and conflict of schedule: Monday was a resting day, because I had ran 12 miles the day before in sleet and freeze; Wednesday became tres occupé for me, when I should have put in a run; I rested on Saturday because I ran 18+ miles on Friday, then went out on Sunday. This Monday, I did it again, because the schedule permitted!

I am glad for what I was able to do. Keeps getting better by the week. I am pounding the road, the tarmac and trying to put in all the mileage. It is cold, it is snowed out, it is icy, all the conditions that could discourage one from going out running. Especially, solo running is more dreadful! Thankfully, I sucked it up and did my mileage. I was not able to run the last day of the month, per my plan, but I ran the first day of the following month.

I always say that running the first day of the month helps fuel my running for the entire month. I didn’t do that bad at all this month. In fact, February is my best month, thus far. I broke many records: 1) Farthest Distance in a Month; 2) Longest Duration in a Month; and 3) Most Calories Burned in a Month. 🙌🙌🙌

Hopefully, March will march along so good for me. I need to put in those mileages, as the marathon draws nigh! And these Muzinos need a final rest.

Rest in Peace, Muzino

Rest in Peace, Muzino

So, if you still wanna support me on my journey in six weeks, please click on this link to make a donation that could afford me a new pair of shoes. Most importantly, please help me raise money for the Tufts Medical Center, on behalf of the Tufts Marathon Team I am running with. I would be most grateful!