Thursday, March 27, 2014

Self

Dear Self Magazine,
I used to be an avid reader of your publication. I never subscribed, however, I read your magazine monthly either when I purchased it at the register or at the gym. I really enjoyed some of your articles and was inspired but the success stories you would publish. I even liked that my 4 daughters read your magazine. They would chose and try published recipes and workouts on a regular basis.
That has now changed. My view of your magazine has changed. While I once thought your magazine was about “you at your best’ as the cover states, I have come to realize that is NOT what your magazine is about. Your magazine seems to be about  your writers and editors vision of beauty and perception of what is best for all women. It is about their personal image of best not a true, individual vision of personal best. That is not what I want for myself or my daughters.
When I saw your page with the “BS Meter” regarding runners in tutus I was angry and upset. As the self proclaimed #tutulady, I run every race, every distance, in a tutu. I began running in a tutu a few years ago based on a promise to my Girls on the Run. I have kept that promise and then some. I do not run in a tutu because I think it makes me faster ...good Lord I wish it did as I am often the slowest person on the course. I run in a tutu because it makes me and other people smile. It starts a conversation (sometimes only for a moment) that helps others on the course forget pain, distance, exhaustion, worry, doubt, and all else that ails them. That is what I am all about...making life better for others. I don’t run to be first or fast. I run to inspire others to be their best self. To make themselves proud. To do more than they ever thought possible. That is why I wear a tutu...not to be fast but to inspire.
vote for #tutulady
The theory of tutu spirit was born from my Girls on the Run. They inspire my every footfall. The sheer joy they exude feeds my soul.  I wrote a blog post about  "tutu spirit' a few years back and in it I talk about the feeling that I get when I wear a tutu and run. The feeling of being a confident, powerful princess. That is something every girl...every woman should feel. We as women spend enough time bashing each other and putting each other down. We as women spend too much time being too hard on ourselves and working to fit someone else’s image of beauty. When are we going to learn the lessons we try to instill in Girls on the Run? Women are powerful when we believe in ourselves and each other. We are unstoppable when we channel our energy towards a positive purpose.
Your recent magazine had an item titled “inspiring new running gear”...my inspiring new running gear? Not what is pictured on your pages but, in fact, is a brand new tutu I made especially for my race this weekend. What else is inspiring to me is the fact that the woman in the photo is battling brain cancer. She is out there running 26.2 miles (no easy task) in a tutu while battling an illness that might take her life. She is out there living life large and full and beautiful and your magazine is mocking her and others like her.
Cheesy tutu
Another article boasts, “ I’m tired of being eye molested at the gym.” Well, honestly, put on a tutu and see what happens then!
Your editor did publish an apology to the women in the photo, however, one thing we teach our Girls on the Run is that once the toothpaste is out of the tube it is darn near impossible to get it back in. Once the words are out of our mouths or printed on paper, it is darn near impossible to take them back. We need to think to ourselves, “Is it kind? Is it helpful? is it supportive?” before we speak or write. We do not know anyone’s story and should not place judgments on one another.
Perhaps your team of writers and editors should spend some time volunteering. I would like to personally invite you to spend time with the coaches and girls of Girls on the Run.  Come participate in the lessons that change the lives for our girls. Come see what raw beauty, kindness, caring, compassion and exuberance for life looks like at its best. Come hang out and or run a race with the #tutulady and see what the true feeling of being a confident, powerful princess is all about. Come and be inspired.
Barbie butt kickers

Peace,
Kristine Nader
Mom of 5
Teacher
Girls on the Run Coach
Wearer of Pink Cowboy boots
#tutulady
Bandit tutu
Turkey tutu
School tutu

GOTR tutu
Running makes me tutu happy
Bears tutu
Rock and roll tutu
GOTR
Shamrockin'

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dedicated

Today is the beginning of my 48th trip around the sun. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I decided to go for a run. I have spent these cold winter days on the treadmill or on an indoor track but today I wanted to go outside. I wanted to feel the cold air fill my lung and feel alive. I wanted to take my pup for a run so I layered up and leashed up. I needed a little time to myself to recharge.
My miles today were not just for me but for another Mother Runner and her family. Meg Menzies was not someone I knew or ever even met, but I feel was a kindred spirit. She was a runner who last weekend went for a training run. It was on the fateful run that she was stuck and killed by a drunk driver.
Meg's friends wanted to honor her and her story so they started a Facebook group. That group expended and turned into a group...no...a movement...in Meg's honor. #megsmiles was born.
Today I ran 6.5 miles in the snow. It was not fast nor easy but each mile was for someone I love. I ran the first mile for my husband, a law enforcement officer. Mile 2 was 25 year old for my step daughter (gosh I Loathe that term) who lost her mother a few years back. Mile 3 was for my 18 year old, mile 4 was for my 15 year old, mile 5 was for my 14 year old and mile 6 was for my baby, my 10 year old. The last .5 was for me. Each mile I ran, I thought of my own children and husband but also of Meg's family. Each mile I thought of all that running has given me. Each mile I thought of all my many blessings. What an awesome gift to myself...time to run.
Meg was training for Boston when she lost her life. She was looking of fulfill a dream. She was doing what all runners do...run. What she didn't know or couldn't know was that a driver was getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink.  
Drivers are more distracted today than ever. Phones, texting, drinking all impair driving. I know. I was struck while out on a run by a driver who I saw looking at his phone but he didn't see me. My dog saved my life that day. I was Lucky
We runners do what we do. We run. It is how we cope with life. It is how we relieve stress. It is how we come together. It is how we live. After Boston, runners ran. We all ran to honor all that could not run. I wrote about that  Here. Runners are a community.
Meg, I believe, knew that. She knew that running was different from every other sport. Running is more than sport. It is community. We runners celebrate the accomplishments of new runners as well as old. We celebrate every mile run. We celebrate each other. I believe Meg knew that.
Meg was like all Mother Runners. She kissed her kids and headed out the door for "just a run" "just a few miles" "I'll be right back". We runners run to recharge. We run to reclaim a little independence and sanity. We run to reboot that computer in our heads. We run to close the spouse/parent/friend/son/daughter/coach/worker tabs on that computer and get a fresh start. We need the fresh look at life that we get after a short run or a long run depending on the day. We need to reboot.
Meg was training for Boston. THE marathon. The ONE! She wanted to do more than just finish. She wanted to RUN Boston. Today the people who ran in her honor covered more miles than she would have training for multiple marathons. Today runners ran. Today people who had never put one foot in front of the other ran. They walked. They jogged. They moved to honor a woman they had never met but a woman who moved them. The impact of her life was felt in every footfall today...and tomorrow ... And every day that these people move.
We can not change the past but we can learn from it. We runners need to do all that we can to learn and grow from this experience. We need to forgive. We need are not the ones that will live with the guilt and anguish that the driver faces in the future.
The impact of Meg's life will go far beyond the movement that happened today. We runners now have a special angel on our shoulders keeping us company on those lonely miles. Meg will live on in the footfalls of every runner that continues to run today and every day. The fact that #megsmiles is also "meg smiles"is no coincidence. Forward is a pace.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Kindness

At the end of the week, I end another trip around the sun. To honor that, I would like to ask each of you to commit a random act of kindness this week. Just one nice thing for someone else ...just because. Say a prayer for someone other than yourself, leave a kind note on a coworkers desk, pay a toll for the car behind you, buy a coffee for someone you don't know, offer to drive carpool for an extra day.... You get the idea. Open your eyes to opportunities for kindness and take a chance. Forward is a pace.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Day 1

January 1. I have 17 days left in my 47th year. I have thought  long and hard about my resolutions for this new year. Here they are...
1. Smile more. It makes people curious and takes difficult situations to a different place.
2. Spread Tutu spirit. I know I look ridiculous in my tutu but who cares? Not me! If I can garner a smile from a struggling runner in a race...job done.
3. Write more. I have realized that my writing helps others as much as it helps me.
4. Keep moving forward. FORWARD IS A PACE.

Resolutions

So here it is. January 1. A blank slate   A time to start anew. I always hated resolutions because they never stick. They are not supposed to last a month. They are not supposed to be forgotten or recycled. They are not supposed to be a lie you tell yourself and others year after year.
Resolutions are meant to stick. They are supposed to  change you. They are meant to make you better than you were last year. Better than you were yesterday.
We can't pay lip service to Resolutions.  It takes work...hard work ... To change. We can work hard to stay the same, to change for the worse or better. It is all up to us.
So this year, make a resolution. Just one. One you know you can keep. One you know will make your life better. It doesn't have to be huge. Just one little change. Write it down and work on it each day, every day, 365 days of this new year and see what happens. Peace.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Coach

As the year comes to a close, I feel compelled to come back to my blog. I took a break to focus on other things. Don't get me wrong, blog entries swim around in my head on a daily bias but the time it takes to sit down and write it all has been too much for me lately.
I have spent the last few days reflecting back on 2013. Many things come to mind but as I think long and hard, I keep coming back to the same thing.
I have never been the strongest or the fastest. I have never been the best at much of anything. I never had the drive or ambition. I was never a star. In high school I managed the tennis team. I longed to play the lead in Carousel or Brigadoon but settled for the supporting cast as I knew there were other better suited for the lead.
I chose a small all women's Catholic college rather than a Big 10 school because I thought The big 10 was for others not me.
I gave up men I. My life not because I didn't love them but I knew I was not the best for them. I knew someone could love them better than me.
I have always taken my place on the sidelines. I have been the cheerleader. I have been the support staff.
What I realized this year is that is my best position. It is why I love being a teacher. It is why I love being a coach for Girls on the Run. It is why I love being a pace leader for new runners.  I love helping other to see the best in themselves. I love helping others to realize their potential. I love being a cheerleader, coach and teacher.
People sometimes laugh or roll their eyes at my motto, Forward is a Pace. To me is sums up all that I am and hope to teach others. If we are moving forward ... No matter how fast or slow... We are still moving in the right direction. We must continue to move forward. We can't look back. We can't relive the past. We must move forward at whatever pace suits is at that moment. Sometimes we move at the speed of sound and sometimes we are lucky to shuffle a half step. But as long as we move forward....we are moving on the right direction. Let us all continue to support one another and move forward in the new year. Forward is a pace.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Family

Each year I write up a full report of my marathon adventure.  I write it all down mostly for myself so that I can remember all that took place on a whirlwind day but also to inspire others to create their own “marathon memories” either by running a 5K, marathon or just doing something they never thought possible.

My mantra is “Forward is a pace” both in running and in life. It gets me through my toughest of times and roughest of runs. I preached it to my pace group all summer in order to get them though and learn to have faith in themselves. I must have really needed to hear it this year because I heard and saw it in many forms during the marathon.

Sunday morning dawned cool and crisp. A perfect fall morning. My husband got out of the warm bed to drive my friend and me downtown. He drove as we nervously chatted all the way to Michigan Ave.

We arrived at the hotel to find things already buzzing with runners and activity. We found our group and prepared for the race. More and more runners from our group showed up as I donned my modified tutu (due to new security measures) and we took pictures before heading to the start line.

This year was a bit different with the heightened security so we entered at the wrong spot and had to walk a distance before being able to enter our corrals.  Once we were settled, we readied for the start. There was a pace leader from another charity near us that was so funny. I mean everything the guy said had me laughing out loud. He told his runners “When someone asks how is it going, you say FORWARD” I thought…hmmm…where have I heard that before?

My arm with a reminder
of each dedicated mile.
The gun sounded and we were off and running. This year I had asked friends and family if they would like me to run a mile for them. The response was overwhelming and motivating for me. Each mile was a different reason to keep moving forward.

Mile 1 Niles NRG! I started the marathon with 3 ladies from my pace group.  We had spent the summer running and training together. We always run our first 3 miles a little fast then settle in to our ‘happy pace’ and today was no different.  Off we went! The CARA Niles training group and its leader, Keith, have changed my life.  The friendships created through this group are deep and true. I was so proud to start this journey with these ladies.

Mile 2 Annette S. for the 2 years we worked together.  As I ran along State Street (that great street) I thought of the friendships I have gained through teaching. I have taught in many places with many people that I remain friends with to this day. What a gift from my chosen profession. It was towards the end of this mile that I was getting hot and had tied my jacket around my waist. I was fate that I saw Keith and another member of my running group cheering as I rounded the corner onto Jackson. I gave him my jacket and kept going, thinking that I had lost my ladies. I rounded the corner onto LaSalle and as is my practice, I thank every Chicago Police Officer I see. As I yelled, “CPD, Thank you!” the officer turned around. It was none other than a friend and mother of one of my students, Officer O’Brien!  She wished me well and sent me on my way!

Mile 3 Dedicated to 3 YO son of a friend with terminal cancer. This mile was filled with crowds and more little kids than I have ever seen. Perhaps it was because I was looking for them. I high fived each one as I thought of the little boy and his family on such a difficult journey.  Counting high fives kept me pretty busy for the mile and I lost count by the time I hit mile 4.

Mile 4 My cousin, Melissa, and all parents of children with special gifts. My cousin, Missy, and I have not seen each other for some time but I still feel so very close to her and her family. This mile is part of a long stretch though the city. I thought of the long stretch she and other parents of children with special gifts have each day and kept going.

Mile 5 My 5 children and the ‘kids’ in my life. Mile 5 leads me towards the zoo. I was immediately flooded with memories of visits and picnics with my children in this place.  As I ran, I saw a sign that said, “Keep moving forward, Mom!  We are proud of you!” What struck me was that there are so many ‘kids’ in my life. I am honored to be called Momma by many friends and ‘my other mother’ by others.

Mile 6 Lucy D. and Maddie M.   The girls’ moms are part of my running group and these little girls were born to run. They will lead the 6 minute pace group for NRG one day! At the aide station towards the end of this mile I saw another of my Niles friends, Russ, my co pace leader for the season. He handed me water, gave me a hug and sent me on my way yelling, “Go get ‘em, Momma!”

Mile 7 Michelle F.  one of my dear Moms on the Run friends. Last year this was the last mile that we ran together in the marathon. We have run many miles together  but this part of the city always reminds me of her and my running mom friends.

Mile 8 Andy R. and my high school friends.  I Love this part of the course as it take me close to the lake and then into Lakeview. The crowds are always awesome in this area and this year was no different. I danced and sang with spectators as I ran….all things I never thought of doing in high school. I was always part of the supporting cast or a spectator, never a standout. My how things change!
I adore this picture for so many reasons.
 It really captures me and my running.
 I also love that my arm with the miles is in this photo.
Thank you to my gifted friend, Tim B.,
for catching me in action!

Mile 9 Amy I. and her running dreams. This mile was for a former student who dreams of running a marathon one day. She is well on her way and I am proud of how far she has come. During this mile I saw people with signs for two of my group members, both running their first marathon. I assured the cheerleaders that they were on the way….

Mile 10 This mile was unspoken for until the morning of the marathon. I met some young ladies while waiting in line for the bathroom who were part of the Navy running team. They were visiting from Annapolis to run Chicago. We talked while we waited about many things. They asked about my arm (with the miles written on it) and I explained. I told them mile 10 was now theirs as well as all other military, past present and future.

Mile 11 The Decker family and all officers in the 11th district. My friend, Beth, has taught me everything I need to know about running 26.2 and being a good group leader. She and her husband, Mike, and daughter, Lucy, have become more than friends… they have become family.  I hugged the first police officer I saw and told him thank you.

12 Sarah B. and all my Sole Sisters! Sarah was part of my pace group but has gone on to lead her own faster group now. I am so proud of her and my other ‘girls’. It was not lost on me that this was her mile and for the first time ever in a marathon, I had to stop and use the bathroom!

Mile 13 Claudia O. training for her 1st ½. I was beginning to feel lonely at this point and I thought about the many lonely miles we run to train for events. It was then I saw the ladies from my group again! We ran together for a bit and soon were separated again. I came up on Old St. Patrick’s Church and saw the priest amongst the crowd. He gave me a high fived and a “God Bless you” and then 500 feet later there was Mr. Finnegan, a dad from school. He is a Shannon Rover and had just played for Mass. I got a quick hug and kept going.

Mile 14 Sarah D. and her GOTR. This is one of my favorite parts of the course. It is the charity cheer section. I spotted the Girls on the Run tent and headed towards it in desperate need of some body glide and familiar faces. It was just boost I needed to keep going.

Mile 15 Lucy & Gabi S. and their mociute (grandmom). This is always one of the toughest miles of the marathon for me. It is sunny and wide open with not many spectators. I needed the help of my God daughters and the woman who was like another mother to help me get through this difficult portion. I could feel them with me as a pressed on back towards the city.

Mile 16 Mike S. and his running goals. My old friend told me that he had not cracked the 16 mile mark in his running so I cracked it for him hoping that now he can do it on his own!  I headed back to the city and Greektown.  Running under the CPD banner brought me to tears but kept me going as well.

Mile 17 Robby & Lizzy L. Greektown!  Over halfway done!  The smells and sounds of the crowd propelled me forward. I had never seen so many spectators on the part of the course. I spotted a man wearing Girls on the Run Cheer team shirt and thought of Lizzy. Right next to him was a woman holding a sign the read, “Run fast!  There is bacon at the finish!” Perfect for Robby and Lizzie!

Mile 18 Mother Theodore,  SMWC and Providence. I was feeling very lonely and alone at this point just like when I left for college. It had been a long time since I had seen someone I knew and was starting to doubt myself. I was getting tired. I started to pray to Momma Teddy. As always, she knew just what I needed…a friend!  At the corner of Halsted and Taylor there was my buddy, Dan, yelling my name!  He grabbed me and hugged me tight. I took off with the biggest infusion of energy through Little Italy. Shortly thereafter I saw another friendly face, my buddy, Chris. He works at our local running store and has helped me out many times. He smiled, linked my arm and dragged me forward for a bit telling me I was doing great and to keep at it. “Go Momma! You got this!” he yelled as he pushed me forward. I ran a bit alone and soon I felt a tap on the shoulder. It was my Niles friend, Steve. I have known Steve for several years but we had never run together until this day. We were both tired but as we ran and talked  my soul filled up and I got another burst of energy.

Mile 19 My husband & the officers in the 19th district. Pompeii Bakery, one of my husband’s favorites, was where this mile began. I thought of our first dates and lunches he would deliver to my school for me from Pompeii.  It was the start of a 19 year marriage that still revolves heavily around food!  It smelled heavenly but I knew I had to keep going. As I turned the corner onto Ashland I saw my fearless leader, Keith, again. He was smiling standing there with his wife and other group member, Diane. We took a few photos and off I went with Steve still by my side. We passed a lady handing out grapes and orange slices in front of a church where a man sat legless in a wheelchair. I took the baggie, thanked her and she said, “God Bless you”. This was a good mile…with some great grapes!

Mile 20 Cheri P. and her whole family. This mile winds through Pilsen with a great deal of noise and activity. I came up on another one of my Niles friends, Julie. She had been inspired to create a tutu for her run and was running for her mom who had recently passed away. We ran together for a bit but soon separated. I was on my own again…and getting really tired.

Mile 21 Girls on the Run – past present and future. I headed up Halsted Street, passing my old apartment. I thought of how much my life had changed since I lived there. I usually dreaded marathon weekend because of the traffic and noise never realizing that running and Girls on the Run would bring me back to this place a different person.  I was hot and really tired and in need a energy when I saw some cops. I yelled my usual, “CPD thank you” when the officer turned and it was the dad of one of my daughter’s best friends. He saw me, smiled wide and said, “Well look at you, Momma!” I hugged him, thanked him for his service and took off, newly energized.

Mile 22 Steve D. and other first responders. Steve is a cancer survivor and first responder. He lives every day filled with his faith trying to help others. As I began this mile there was a lady running in front of me. Thank goodness she was a few steps ahead when she stopped right in the middle of the course. I ran up behind her and asked if she was ok. She turned to me with tear filled eyes and said, “It is just a cramp. I know it…” I told her to put her weight on me as I helped her to the medical tent that was conveniently only 500 feet away. As I put my arm around her, she passed out. Two medical personnel swooped in and grabbed both of us before we hit the ground.   They took hold of her and assured me that they would take good care of her…that I should keep going. So I went praying for her as I entered Chinatown.

Mile 23 Dan M. and his girls. Dan is a great dad and running buddy. I admire his positive attitude and ability to push through obstacles. I ran through Chinatown taking in the dancing, the music and crowds. I needed this shot of energy. I soon saw a young girl walking and limping a little. I asked if she was ok. She said it hurt…her foot hurt. We walked a bit together and talked. We ran a bit together and kept talking. She told me I reminded her of her mom. I promised her that she would finish…it might be slow but she would finish. She slowed to have something to drink and I pushed on.
Once again, Tim B., with the perfect shot!
I love the sign over my head!

Mile 24 Past, present and future students of mine. I have been a teacher for 24 years and have learned so much from my students in these years.  I had to laugh that during this mile I was offered a beer more than once by students at IIT. The second time I took it as a sign and for the first year ever during a marathon I chugged a beer!

Mile 25 My Heroes – Gillian and Kelly Weaver. I saw some of my Niles group cheering. I told them I was hot and more tired now more than ever and they assured me the end was close.It was good to see someone I knew.   I rounded the corner onto Michigan Avenue and felt my friend, Kelly’s presence, right there in the cool breeze.  I walked a bit to soak it in and got the chills as a young man wearing an “Autism Speaks” shirt tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Come on Momma!  You can finish this thing” as he ran past. I started running again.

Mile 26 Cathy T.,  her family and new beginnings. I ran/walked this mile with renewed strength and energy. There were more police and fire personnel than I had ever seen before on every side of the street.  I came across some paramedics who rode along side of me and asked if I knew a young man, a former student. I smiled wide and said yes. I explained how I knew the guy as they laughed. They took my picture to send him and I was on my way again. Teachers never forget a student…and certain ones stick forever.

Mile .2 ME! At the last turn, just before Mount Roosevelt, I was thanking the CPD what seemed like the millionth time, when one cop looked right at me and said, “NADER! Where is your husband?” It was his partner, Wilson.  I told him he was still in bed!  He yelled, “Go make him proud!” and I ran up that hill without stopping!  I came around the corner and could not only see but feel and taste that finish line! There was no stopping this tutulady as I ran full steam ahead to the finish.

I crossed that finish line with my tired arms over my head and a smile on my face. I had done it!  I finished my 5th marathon!  As I walked through the shoot, a woman I had met on Friday at the Expo remembered me,  wrapping me in a heat sheet and congratulating me. She was awesome! I continued walking. An older gentleman gently placed a medal around my neck and kissed my cheek, saying “I am so proud of you.” I began to cry as I walked away. A spotter asked if I was ok and I said yes as I continued towards the food….I was starving! I got a box of treats and then a beer. That beer was sooo cold and it was soo good…and then called my family.

This was neither my fastest nor my slowest marathon. It was right in the middle. It was neither my easiest nor my most difficult. It was right in the middle. It was neither my best season of training nor my worst. It was right in the middle. This year, this marathon, was like a middle child. Independent, full of hand me downs, more relaxed, and diplomatic.

This year and this marathon I realized that family is not just where you are born. Family is what you make it. We surround ourselves with people who see the best in us and want the best for us. We long for someone to feel our pain and celebrate our victories, for someone to believe in us and love us. Sometimes we are born into that family, sometimes we have to create it for ourselves and sometimes we are lucky enough to have both, like me!

Bling and my tutu!
This year the real and powerful force that is tutu spirit carried me through many difficult times.  This year I learned that everyone needs inspiration. Some days you inspire and some days you need to be inspired. This year putting one foot in front of the other…I was able to move forward. Forward IS a Pace. Family, Forward and Tutu Spirit can move mountains.  I realized that I did something that many people can’t do or won’t ever start....I completed a marathon...not once, not twice, not three, not four but FIVE times!!
Thank you to all of you for your months of encouragement, generous donations, faith and abundant prayers. I am forever changed.....…..

A Momma
A Teacher
A 5 TIME marathon FINISHER!
Forward is a Pace
Peace.