Thursday, September 11, 2014

Influence

Last night after a tough 9 mile run in the cold mist with an aching hip, I arrived home and changed into dry clothes. I poured myself a glass of wine sat down, totally exhausted. My 15YO came over and said, "Mom, you look tired. Do you have time to check some homework for me?" She rarely asks for homework help so I said sure. What she needed me to check was an assignment on the most influential woman in her life. She showed me the paper with the assignment and then had me watch the video.  I did not realize how deeply GOTR and my involvement in GOTR has effected her.
I cried myself to sleep last night...happy tears....tears of gratitude that this program has not only changed me but changed her as well.
Influential Woman Video

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Coalition



What is the Red Boot Coalition? A group of people committed to change. The mission is to unabashedly and courageously bring joy, compassion, love, vulnerability, unity, humility, reflection and strength to the United States political system. How do we do that? Good question. 
Strong, Joyful. Heart-driven. Authentic. Compassionate. Reflective. Genuine. Whole, Innovative. All words that describe Red Booters. Red Booters don't have to wear their boots to be noticed. It is a pervasive attitude. However, I hope to someday have my own pair of sassy red boots for these big feet of mine! 
The driving force of this movement is Molly Barker. She has decided to take the month of August and travel the country, meeting with small groups of people for discussion on this topic. 
When she said she was coming to Chicago, I jumped at the chance to be a apart of this discussion. I wanted not only to meet Molly but also to find out more about this movement. Another woman and myself volunteered to cohost the event and she volunteered her home. 
We both invited people, and were concerned not many would show. I mean, really, who wants to give up a Friday night to talk about politics? Molly assured us that no matter who/how many it would work out and we trusted her.
Once everyone arrived, we had a nice mix of ages (20 somethings to 50 somethings). We sat in a circle and Molly began. She told us how she came to the place she was at this moment and why this was important. And then she opened the floor to discussion with a question...what qualities do you want in your perfect leader? 
The answers varied and the conversation twisted and turned to how we each felt about different political topics from term limits to lobbyists to campaign spending. Never once was a voice raised. Never once was someone challenged. Never once was there a negative vibe in the room...and we all had different views. Molly continued to ask difficult questions and push us for deeper answers. One thing that we realized is that everyone wants to be accepted and to belong and sometimes people step into a 'box' to conform leaving their own values and beliefs behind.
About an hour into the conversation, a woman asked, "What's the take away?  I'm tired of going to meetings to discuss another meeting. What can I do? What is the action plan?" So we talked about that and what that would be, what that would look like for each of us....it is really different for each of us.
As the evening came to a close, the circle broke apart  and we each sat in smaller groups, continuing our conversations as people dwindled and headed home.
My cohost and I cleaned up and said goodbye to everyone. Molly was last to leave with me and we each got into our cars. I drove home alone thinking of all that I had heard that night. That nagging question, "What's the takeaway?" rang in my ears. What was I going to do? How was I going to take what I had learned and apply it to my life? I went to bed with ...what can I do....in my head.
The next morning I had my group long run. My group loves to eat so we usually talk food as the miles click away but that morning someone asked why I looked tired. I jumped on the opportunity to tell some of my group about my evening and about the Coalition. Then I started with the same question, "What qualities do you want in your perfect leader?" That lead to what is broken in the system and what frustrates us. I talked politics and listened to various group members for about 5 miles. It was an amazing discussion and we each learned more about one another. The conversation soon turned to food again but I was good with it....one has to have something to look forward to ...eating...after a 10 mile run.
I realized that we all need to talk to one another. We need to really listen more and respect one another's viewpoints. We don't all have to agree but we need to listen and learn. My take away... to ask questions, to LISTEN to the answers and to learn from others.
Molly is a real visionary. If anyone can bring about change, it would be her. If she can get little girls to believe in themselves as the founder of Girls on the Run, she can get adults to believe in the promise of change in politics. Someone once told me that Molly is a lot like Peter Pan....she makes you believe. Well, I believe.
Red Boots, Strong Coffee, Change the World.
Forward is a pace. Peace.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Molly

I never planned to be a runner. I never liked working out or running or anything fitness related. I liked my "watch what I eat" and "look at those crazy gym/running people" lifestyle. Running did not come naturally nor easy for me. Each run was a struggle. As I got more confident, I signed up for a few races in the fall and put running to rest for the winter. Come spring I saw an ad for a race called "WonderGirl". It sounded like something I could do and not feel intimidated plus it was on the lakefront. Perfect. So I signed up. When I got to the race I didn't realize that my life was to change that very day. I ran alone but felt more at home than ever. The "Girl Power" was amazing and the support phenomenal. I didn't realize then that this was what I had been looking for and longing for all my life.  I wanted to know more but was not ready to make the effort.
A year later, I ran the same race with my oldest 2 girls and while we were hot, miserable and chafed, we were so happy! I felt like I had never felt before...called to know more, do more and take action. I contacted GOTR that week and began the process of bringing the program to my school. It was an uphill battle as it was a new program to the area and was not in many schools. But I pushed and by the time my youngest daughter was in 3rd grade, we had a program and she would be in the first 'class'. My older girls came to each session to help and got the lessons by osmosis but not like my baby girl. She soaked up the GOTR messages like a sponge. She could not wait until the next session so that she could learn more.
Fast forward 7 years and we are still deeply involved in the program. By this time I had read all there was to know about the Foundress, Molly Barker. By some twist of fate Molly and I became friends on social media. I sent her a message thanking her for not only changing my life, but the lives of my daughters and other girls as well. We would comment periodically on each others posts and often say one day we would sit and have coffee together.  I longed for that day. I wanted to hug this woman and thank her in person for all she has done for me and others.
That day was yesterday. Molly came to town to discuss her newest venture, The Red Boot Coalition. Another woman and I were cohosting the event together in this woman's home. I was to arrive early to have dinner with my cohost and Molly.
As I got dressed, I was nervous as to what to wear and asked my kids. My 11 year old son said, "Mom!  Its Molly!  She doesn't care what wear!  She wants to see YOU!" I knew at that moment that my son also got the GOTR messages by osmosis as well!  So I got dressed and headed to dinner. I thought I would be nervous and my drive would be one filled with anxiety...but I was strangely calm.
Pink Boots inspired by
the Red Boots
I arrived and was informed that Molly was running a little late so my cohost and I  began eating and getting to know one another better. Soon Molly arrived and I was thrilled!  She entered the room and we hugged...but not one of those "Oh my GOD! I am so stoked to finally meet you!" hugs. It was the kind of hug you give your best old girlfriend that you haven't seen in a while...that calm, quiet, "I'm so happy to see you again" hug. It was funny, the moment I was in her presence, I felt like I was with my best friend...you all know that friend...the one that you could see every day and never get tired of that is the same one that you can go for weeks without talking to yet pick up right where you left off? That is just how I felt.  It was so familiar. We sat together with some others around a kitchen table and talked some more before other guests started arriving.
Once we moved to our meeting space, I sat next to her and listened as she spoke to the group. We all talked and shared ideas for a few hours. It was amazing. Afterwards,  we all chatted in small groups about different things but ya know that feeling when you are at a party with your bestie and you don't need to be together...you want to spend time on others because just knowing that your bestis is there sharing space and breathing the same air is good enough for that moment? Yup...that was the feeling I had. I am not sure if Molly felt the same but that's ok. I was in a space of peaceful bliss.
Molly and Me!
It was finally time to call it a night and people started to leave. I walked to my car after saying goodbye and as I turned around, there was Molly. We stood together in the dark driveway for a moment. You all know those final moments at a party that you spend with your friend... the last words and final hug you want just shared between the 2 of you? She shared some words of wisdom and we hugged one last time. As she walked away, I wish I could have snapped a photo but the image is seared in my memory...she headed off in the dark to her car ringed in the light of the perfect full moon looking like an angel. My angel. My friend. The one that changed....no....saved my life. Forward is a pace. Peace.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Heart

A few years ago I started running. One of the first races I ran was a Girls on the Run race. From that moment I was hooked. I was determined to bring this program to my school. I worked hard to convince the powers that be that this was a worthwhile endeavor.
I began coaching when my youngest daughter was in 3rd grade. I could see the different it made to her at that young age and knew it had to continue.
To say that Girls on the Run has changed my life is an understatement. I have poured my heart and soul into this program. I am better every day because of this program.
This spring I was asked to help with a video to promote GOTR. To say that I was honored and humbled is an understatement!  Not only did they want me but they wanted my daughter...the one who started the ball rolling! To hear how the program has affected her brought me to tears. It is difficult to put into words the depth and breath of the changes this program has brought to the girls I have coached, my own daughters and to me. This directors of the video have found a way to take my heart and put it on film. I could not be more proud.
We held a screening last week for the girls and I wrote about seeing this for the first time with them here.

Please help every girl experience this lifechanging program and win a Garmin. Make a donation here.
https://www.crowdrise.com/gotrchicagomarathon2014/fundraiser/kristinenader
All donations made to this personal page between August 1-29 will be entered into a drawing for a new Garmin10.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Official

The trifecta that I completed a few weeks ago was seen by some as 'not an official" triathlon so I decided to register for a REAL triathlon. It was something I had always wanted to do but was afraid to try. I had every excuse in the book to not do this but realized that the time had come....to step beyond excuses. How can I expect my children and my Girls on the Run to step beyond themselves and out of their comfort zone if I could not do the same?
I trained for each part (however, not enough). I knew that I could complete the parts of the tri and finish. I didn't expect to be first. It was the transitions that frightened me so I just focused on moving forward.
I told only one of my BRF's that I was thinking of registering and she decided to do it as well...boy was I glad. I didn't have to do this alone. We decided to keep it our secret, only confiding in a few people for advice and support, just in case we decided to chicken out!
As the day drew closer, I grew more nervous. I also realized that I would have to give up participating in a treasured tradition with my husband. This year he would ride alone and so would I. Knowing that I was nervous and sad to miss a long ride with him, he took me out on the Harley the night before the race. I thought he just wanted to take my mind off things...nope...as we rode I realized he was taking me to the race site. He took me through he bike course I would ride the following day and past the start/finish lines. To some that may not seem romantic but to me, better than jewelry and flowers.
Race morning dawned warm and sticky. My BRF showed up and we drove our trucks to the race....better with each toting our own bike. Upon arrival, we figured out check in, timing and body marking then headed to the transition area.
We began to set up our spaces and chatted with others. I think the fact that we were more towards the back that people were more open to helping us and making suggestions. We met some wonderful participants of all ages before we realized it was time to line up.
We headed to the pool area to wait for our start time. This tri began with a pool swim and since I was a tad stronger swimmer than my BRF, I started a little before her. It was nerve wracking to watch the faster swimmers start and see their speed in the water.
It was soon my turn to get in the water and I had a mild panic attack...that was disrupted by the start whistle. I was off and swimming...with a swimmer 15 seconds in front of me and another right behind. There was no slowing down or stopping now. The fact that we had to go under the lanes markers was a little scary as I took in water a few times ... due to another's strokes as I was coming up for air. I jockeyed for position with 3 other swimmers, passing and being passed as the water churned with each of my strokes....and before I knew it....I was at the ladder to get out!

I headed out to transition a little more slowly as I was terrified to fall. I got to my bike, tore off my top, pulled on pants, my GOTR tank, shoes and socks and my helmet. I had a little trouble dislodging my bike from the rack and then headed towards the bike course. Once on the bike, I drank some water and got situated. I was passed by faster bikes and riders but it didn't bother me like I thought it would. I was on the bike riding in the sun. All the volunteers I passed, cheered and were so positive and I started to thank them. each cross point, I said thank you and they all seemed surprised. As a finished my first of the 2 laps on the bike, I was passed by my good friend Fr. Rob. He is one of my Tri heroes and the one I promised I would do this. He told me to keep going and I pedaled harder through lap number 2.
As I finished the second lap, I realized that I was 2/3 done with this challenge...but the hardest part was yet to come.
I headed into the transition area for the last time, racked my bike, and pulled on my tutu. Yup, I was going to wear my tutu!  As the morning progressed it had gotten hotter and more humid. The sun was out in full force now and the run was in full sun.  My legs were shaking coming off the bike and it took me a good portion of the first mile to find a pace I could manage. I knew it was going to be a run/walk but was ok with that. As a ran the out and back course, people that passed me smiled and many commented on the tutu. I guess not many people wear tutus for triathlons! I think i heard everything from, "Wow, you get best dressed!" to "Hey, nice skirt". I was just glad people were smiling!
At the end of the first mile, my buddy Rob passed me again on his way to the finish. "You got this!" he yelled as we passed.
The middle of the run has a fairly large hill and by then I was tired but as I rounded the corner at teh bottom, there was Asian drummers playing and cheering!  "Hey, Pretty lady!  Come on now....up the hill!" How could a walk now? Ok...up the hill I climbed...albeit slowly! Down the other side and around the path. I got a bit confused at one point as the course was not all that well marked and a spectator told me which way to go....around and BACK UP THE HILL! UG!  but there they were again...drumming away!  "Here comes the pretty lady again....up you go!"
And I knew I was into the home stretch! this was the final push...only a mile left to go. Soon I could hear the announcer at the finish so I picked up my pace. There it was...THE FINISH!  And when I looked up there was Fr. Rob too!

As I crossed the finish line, I could hear the announcer say my name and I knew I had done it...I finished!  As soon as I crossed, I was mobbed by volunteers...one was putting the medal on my neck, one was handing me water and one was taking the timing chip off my ankle....and then there was my pal hugging me!
I shocked myself!  I did it!  I finished! What an amazing feeling!
As I waited for my BRF, I watched and cheered others to finish. It was like my first race all over again. My BRF soon came into view and crossed the finish line as well with the same feeling of elation!
We got something to eat, chatted with other finishers, took a million pictures and headed back to the transition area to pack our things.
It was over in a flash but the feeling of satisfaction will last forever. We are officially TRIATHLETES!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

GARMIN!

This would look
great on your wrist!
Who wants a brand new Garmin Forerunner 10? Actually WHO DOESN'T?? 
Well here is your chance to help me help girls and WIN a new Garmin!! 
For every $10 donated to GOTR via my donation page  by August 31, 2014 your name will be entered into a raffle to win the Garmin. 
Donate $20 and get 2 raffle tickets. $30=3 tickets. The larger the donation the more chances to win. Winner will be notified on September 1, 2014. 
#tutulady
Just think...you could have a new Garmin just in time all your fall races or give as a Christmas gift!!
To make a donation and enter the raffle:
https://www.crowdrise.com/gotrchicagomarathon2014/fundraiser/kristinenader

Help this Superhero help girls find their own inner SUPERHERO!
To learn more about Girls on the Run, feel free to contact me or go to http://www.gotrchicago.org/


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Coach

My BRF
Today I was given the opportunity to run a race as a coach. I have run with my Girls on the Run as a buddy but this time I was a coach for other runners. It was an opportunity I was going to make the most of ...
My BRF (best running friend) and I headed down to the race early. She was chosen to lead the 'back of the packers' the 3:30's. I know it sounds like an easy job but run/walking a race and keeping people moving forward is no easy task.
I headed to the GOTR tent to get my bib and meet the other Solemates. We headed to the start corrals together and soon the race began. I knew I was not going to get an "official' time so I just had it in my head that this was my long training run for the week....boy was I wrong.
The first mile had me running up on a girl that was already walking. She looked at me as I asked if she was ok and said, "This is harder than I thought" I told her that she had a long way to go and she just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other. We ran together a bit and soon she was off in front of me.
My Cousin and his wife
I just kept moving and grooving forward. I crossed the bridge at the Chicago River and as I crossed wacker, I looked up. I saw a man with a camera that looked familiar. I looked again as I got closer...it was my oldest cousin who I have not seen in about 4 years (maybe more!). They live out of state and there he was!  He called his wife over and you snapped a pic. Their oldest daughter was running the 1/2 and they were looking for her!  We hugged again and I was off and moving.
ABC& News Anchors
A few minutes later, I ran past the ABC7 tv studio and 2 reporters were out front. "Hey!  Can we take a picture with you?" "Sure" I replied. The female reporter looked at me and said, "Can I touch your tutu?" I laughed and we took our pictures and I took off again. As I continued running I noticed a young lasy all by herself on the side of the street with her shoe off...not a good sign. I slowed and asked if she was ok. She told me that her foot kept falling asleep. New laces and shoes that were too small were the problems I figured out after listening to her. We loosened her laces and started running together. She felt better as she was alone at the race and soon she was off ahead of me.
I ran for a while just handing out high fives and encouragement as I moved through the miles. At mile 5, one of the girls from my training group ran up next to me. We ran together for a while and chatted. We both realized that this was not going to be easy. It was humid and we were in it to finish. I lost her at the water but kept moving. She had told me where her husband and baby daughter were  going to be so I was on the lookout and soon I saw them. I told them she was right behind me....and soon, there she was...running right to her daughter!  It was so sweet to see them together and the boost she got from seeing them!
I left her and headed on forward to soon be joined by one of my fellow Solemates. We ran together and talked a little, getting to know each other but she was so much faster than me and I could not keep up so off she went.
I stopped to talk to a few girls that were starting to cramp and had not had enough sports drink. They made it to water and were determined to finish. I saw many struggling runners at miles 9-10. More and more people were beginning to walk.
At Mile 11 a man and woman came up beside me and we ran together for a bit. I told the man he was my hero and was so amazing. Why? He was pushing her wife in the wheelchair. She told me that she was a star runner until the recently she was diagnosed with a progressive form of MS. He was not a runner and started running to push her and allow her to continue her passion!  WOW!  And Boy was he Fast!  Soon he was in front of me and I was crying!
Coming off the Lakefront  path I got some water and as I looked up I saw a runner in front of me wobble and then fall down...out cold. First responders were there in seconds taking care of her but it was frightening.  As I headed up the final incline and towards the finish line the young woman in front of me tripped and fell on all 4's. I came up next to her and asked if she was ok and she looked at me with tears, "I'm fine" she whimpered and blood spilled from her hands and knees. I took off my water bottle and got out a paper towel and washed her off. She told me she was tired and worried that she was supposed to call her mom when she finished. I told her, "Momma is right here....she sent me" She laughed and we started running together. She told me she would be sure that she and her mom would pray for me, her angel. Well, alrighty then!  I love prayers!
And here it was...the finish line!  I could see it! The last band was cranking and one of the guys came over and handed me the tambourine. I played and danced to "Happy" as I worked towards the finish.
And then I was passed by another young man pushing his girlfriend. She held a sign that said "stronger together" on one side and "I Love him" on the other. As they closed in on the finish line, He stopped and she got out of the chair. She was wearing a large leg brace but she stood up and used the arm of the chair for balance as she walked across the finish line with her man. Again, I was in tears.
A wonderful young man put a medal on my neck, I took a finisher photo and I headed towards the GOTR tent. I was a mess of emotion.
When I reached the tent, I saw out Solemates coordinator and thanked her for the amazing experience. It was amazing!
I didn't get an official chip time. I didn't get a PR. But I got so much more than a medal. I got to help others. I got to encourage others. I got to give back and spread the message of GOTR. I got so much more than a race time. A funny thing happens when I stop caring about time...I find the pace of my heart. Peace.