October 30, 2009

Giving Back

Since I have been off my feet for a couple weeks now, I have had so much extra time to spend studying, working and what not. If you know me, you know that I love to go to Starbucks and read, work or study. An incident at Starbucks I encountered this past Sunday has really left its mark and has me thinking.

I went to Starbucks last Sunday to get some work done and do a little studying for my Finance exam. I always sit next to a window, not sure why, but I always do. As I was reading, I heard this thumping coming from outside of Starbucks. When I looked out the window, there was a man who was shaking metal racks with newspapers in them. My first thought was that he had stuck a quarter in the slot and he couldn't open the little door on the box to get his newspaper. He shook the rack for 5 minutes or so. I'm not going to lie, I was giving him the evil eye from inside Starbucks because it was getting really annoying. Once he was done shaking the rack, he moved on to the Seattle Times rack. He shook that thing for another 5 plus minutes. I couldn't tell what he was doing, but all I know is I was about to lose it. The man then walked inside of Starbucks. He was a shorter, very overweight man with big coke bottle glasses on. It became very apparent to me that he most likely had a mental disability. He had two bags over his shoulder as he stood at the entrance of Starbucks. The man began to walk towards me. He approached me and the lady sitting next to me. The man reached in his pocket and pulled out a plastic cap from a Coca Cola bottle. He went on to explain how he had found this cap that was a "buy one get one free" coke. The man had no money and wanted to know if either of us could spare a little change so he could go to Haggen and get a Coke. The lady and I were rather rude and said no when it was very apparent we both had money on us since we had just purchased coffee. He hung his head low and looked devastated. The man then approached every single person in Starbucks for a little bit of change for a Coke. Not one person in the whole entire Starbucks had a little change to spare for this man.

Ask any one I know, and they will tell you I refuse to give money to homeless people. I work hard for my money and I don't think I should have to give my hard earned money to someone else who made poor choices. This man then walked outside of Starbucks with his head hung low. He walked back to those newspaper racks and shook them like none other. Finally hit me, he was trying to get change from the newspaper racks. The man appeared to be crying. As he wiped his eyes, he then walked away from the newspaper racks.

My heart sank. This man did not look like other homeless people. He was clean, did not appear to be on drugs or have a drinking problem. This man probably had a really hard time finding a job in this recession. Little old me sitting in Starbucks in my designer jeans talking on my blackberry didn't have a quarter to spare? I didn't have to give the man money, but I could have walked with him to Haggen and buy the Coke for him so I knew the money was being spent on the Coke, and the Coke only. Talk about being selfish.

It is now Friday, and I cannot stop thinking about this incident. I do not know this mans past and I do not know what choices or incidents happened to him to get him in that predicament. All I know is that man was in a very deep and lonely place. Not everyone in this world is as fortunate as I am to have a home, a job and an education. Of all people, I should know how bad this recession is since I am studying finance and economics. Many people have lost their jobs and cannot find a new one, not because they aren't qualified, but because the economy is so poor right now. I know I don't agree with handing money to "homeless" people who stand at the off ramp of the free way, but I can give back in different ways. I have decided I am going to find a way to give back this winter. Whether it be volunteering for a soup kitchen or donating to a food bank. There are people out there who need help and who are desperate. I can donate a little bit of my time and a little bit of my money because in the end, every little bit helps.

I will keep this man in my heart and continue to pray for him. Shows me just how blessed I am and how thankful I need to be for everything I have and every opportunity awaiting for me in this life. There is so much to be happy about and so much to live for :)

October 21, 2009

Shin Fracture

October has been a great month. Not only did I get to celebrate my 300 mile victory, I also signed up for my very first full marathon. After my 300 miles, I took a couple weeks off to recover. I was having really bad shin splints, so I bought new shoes and thought time off would solve the issue. After nearly two weeks off running, I decided to begin my marathon training. I started off with a very slow, light run. I made it 20 minutes into my run before I began running with a limp. I turned around and walked home, talk about disappointing! Not the greatest start to my marathon training. So, I went home and iced my poor shins and tried massaging the muscles.

The weird thing was, normally both my shins hurt, where as this time, only my right shin hurt. When massaging my right shin, I felt this bump on the bone which was definitely not supposed to be there. So, I met with my doctor and he told me I most definitely have a shin fracture. The X-rays showed a small fracture in my right shin. One cool thing, my X-ray chart said "Jessica: Avid runner with possible fracture in right shin" <-- "avid runner"? Ill take it :) My prescription? Six weeks, no running. My eyes welled up with tears and the doctor looked at me like I was an idiot. If you aren't a runner, you just don't understand what if feels like to be told you cant run. Its like a prison sentence. When I told my Dad, he didnt understand either and told me "you're killing yourself". Although my marathon is not until may, I am very nervous that this is going to take too much time away from training and hinder my running.

Running? Its what I do. Its my drug of choice. It gives you this incredible high, so much adrenaline pumping through your body. I finally found something that I am good at, one injury is not going to stop me. I suppose this injury has taught me the importance of allowing my body to recover after a run. I need to slow it down rather than running my hardest all the time. I will definitely stretch and ice way more than I did before. Doctor has allowed me to bike and swim. I was so used to running and exercising outside that I forgot what its like to go to a gym. Not going to lie, I really dont like it. But for now, I will have to deal with it. One hard thing about being injured, besides not being able to run, is controlling my eating habits. When you are running like crazy, you get so used to eating much more food than you normally would. Although I am still working out, I am definitely not working out as hard as I was before since I am so limited on what I can do. Since I am so used to eating large amounts of food, its been really hard cutting back.

6 weeks is much better than a couple months. This is a learning lesson as well as a great opportunity to improve my biking and swimming skills! Who knows, maybe a triathalon is in my near future ;)

October 2, 2009

Eugene Marathon

This week has been such a good week. The week started out with a 15 mile run, which completed my goal of 300 miles for this month. The nasty text message was a slight bump in the road, but my week got especially good when I talked to my friend about an upcoming marathon. She wanted to know if I was interested in running the 4th Annual Eugene, Oregon Marathon with her. My answer right away was "yes".

First off, running a marathon with a friend is just what I need right now. I need that motivation and accountability. It is a flat, beautiful course. Although my initial goal has been to run the Seattle full marathon, I just don't think that marathon is a good fit for me. Every runner I have talked to said it is a tough course. Lots of hills and in the middle of winter. One runner I talked to told me she ran the marathon in the snow. She also mentioned that she cried ALL 26.2 miles because it was so darn cold and hilly. When I run my first marathon, I want it to be a good experience. I am really afraid that if I have a bad experience with my first race that I wont want to run any more marathons. I have decided to run the Seattle half marathon in November and then run the full Eugene Marathon in May.

As you all know, I get really nervous when it comes to signing up for races. So nervous that I haven't signed up for any races. The Seattle half is coming up and I still haven't signed up for it because I am so nervous. When I was looking into the Eugene Marathon, I noticed that the price of the full marathon went up after October 1st. Meaning, the longer I put of signing up for my marathon, the more expensive this marathon is going to be. So, yesterday was October 1st which was the last day to sign up for the marathon before the price increase. Before I went to my first class yesterday, I changed my twitter status to "Signing up for my first marathon today." This way, I would have some sort of accountability if I didn't sign up. Then it hit me. What the heck am I waiting for? What was stopping me from signing up for this marathon? There was no difference if I signed up in the morning or in the afternoon, so there really was no point to put it off even longer.

Yesterday, October 1st, I signed up for my first race, my first marathon! There is no backing out now. The money is spent, therefore, I am running all 26.2 miles. I was so overwhelmed and so proud of myself. I got such a huge rush signing up for this race. I was all smiles all day long! I immediately texted my family and told them I signed up. Yes, they still think I am nuts to run 26.2 miles, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear they wanted to join me in Eugene, OR to cheer me on. It means so much to me to know that I have friends and family that would sacrifice their weekend to come watch me in my first marathon. I think one of the main reasons I have put off signing up for my races is because I don't like the idea of doing it alone. I am new at this and I don't know what to expect. To have my friends and family by my side will give me the courage I need to complete all 26.2 miles. My friend still has not signed up and I think is having second thoughts about this marathon (which will be her first as well!).

I will run this marathon alone if I have to. This is something I want to do for myself. Don't get me wrong, I think it would be such an amazing experience to have my good friend running along side of me and to conquer something so huge together. We are both beginner runners striving for something more. We have been friends since I dated her brother way back in 7th grade. We have had our fair share of ups and downs like any good friendship, but the most important thing is I know she has my back no matter what happens in life. That's why I want to run this marathon with her. I think we are similar in so many ways. We both want to be the best, we don't want to fail.

If there is anything running has taught me, its that every runner is a winner. Running is a one man sport. In my mind, I am my own competitor. I race against myself, I run to run faster than my last run. When it comes to running a marathon, I can't fail. In my mind, running a marathon is the ultimate. If I can complete a marathon, that makes me a winner on the spot. I don't really care about my time at this point, I just want to run the whole way and cross the finish line. I hope my friend can let go of her doubts and believe in herself. I will run this marathon alone if I have to, but I can't think of anything better than running it with a good friend. I will encourage her and support her all the way.

The marathon is May 2, 2010. If I got this big of a rush just signing up for the race, I can't even begin to imagine the rush of crossing the finish line. :)