Over a decade ago I was inspired by a revered and popular public figure who ran their first marathon sometime after turning 40. I said, "I'd like to do that one day - run a marathon - sometime in my 40's". Fast forward to November 3rd, 2010, and within minutes of the clock striking midnight, I cried myself to sleep. I had turned 40. My tears were not due to the actual number, but over the fact that my life didn't look like what I thought it would at this age. I was childless despite every effort not to be, and behind closed doors I was hopeless and lifeless. I had many broken dreams and a broken spirit to match.

A month after turning 40 I remembered my words all those years ago and asked my health care practitioner whether I'd be physically able to run a marathon (especially being 20kg / 45 pounds overweight), and if so - how long would I need to prepare. He replied, "12 months". I asked, "Would 11 be okay?" He nodded. That night I registered for the New York City Marathon and the next morning, I started my training program (which was written for me by an expert in aerobic endurance training). To ensure nothing stopped me from realising my dream (like luck in the lottery selection process), I registered with a charity and have a guaranteed place. I now have 9 months to go before I head to New York and realise my dream - running the marathon, three days after my 41st birthday.

This is my journey...

Monday, 28 February 2011

The power of a poster

It's one thing to imagine your dream in your mind's eye, but creating an actual visual of it is quite another. This practice transports your ideas, fantasies and dreams into a realm of possibility. It starts to feel real.

Despite the cheesyness of one such visual (see Exhibit A: My inspirational poster), it has proved to be amazingly powerful.

When I first registered for the New York City Marathon, I was still recovering from an injured spirit. If I were to measure the string of broken promises (to myself) in dirty laundry, it would have stretched across the Great Wall of China. That's a lot of damage to one's relationship with oneself - and a lot of dirty laundry.

I had come to resemble a typical recovering addict often featured in Hollywood dramas - as much as you want to believe in them, you can't help but anticipate their inevitable fall from grace (pardon the pun and the omission of my addictions, which were illicit foods and beating myself up for being less than perfect). Though I would declare that I believed in myself, in truth - I had very little faith in me. The two are distinctly different.

Behind the facade of a thrilling adventurous lifestyle, harboured a deep sense of fear, self loathing, uncertainty and incompleteness. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Despite the insights and peace I gained from Project Grace 2010 (which BTW, I started a year ago tomorrow) and coming to terms with the clock striking 40, I still felt lost.

The idea of running the New York Marathon made my heart flutter, just as the idea of sitting next to my secret high school heart throb once did in 1985. Surely this was a sign that my heart was in it and that I was inspired?

From the moment I signed up I began to practice what I subsequently advised in the last Saturday Tip - protecting the flame of inspiration (especially from myself). Not only did I have to protect the flame from people wanting to blow it out, but I also needed to frequently stoke the fire and feed it fuel.

My inspirational poster became my fire stoker and feeder. I have it on my desktop, Google home page, office and bedroom wall plus, most importantly, on my iPhone. Every time I switch on my device, I see this image over and over again, day after day, week after week - thus ensuring that I do not forget my dream. As a result, the dream becomes more and more real - and I am growing more and more confident.

There are many exciting things on the horizon, which I am bursting at the seams to share with you. Instead of falling over myself with excitement (as I often do), I am taking things one step at a time - just as I do when I'm out running. My faith (in me) is in the midst of restoration, as is my spirit. Such is the power of a poster, albeit cheesy.

Until tomorrow, do not underestimate the power of visuals. Embrace the cheese and create a poster of your dream so that it feeds and stokes your fire of inspiration.

Grace xx

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Friday, 25 February 2011

A Child's Life

I'm here at my brother's house having just spent the last four hours babysitting my 6 year old nephew and 3 year old niece, whom I've just put to bed with a Mr. Men book.

We spent the evening playing snakes and ladders, drawing frogs and trapdoor spiders, then finished off with an imaginary game called 'mothers and fathers'. My nephew called himself Storm, my niece Curly and I was Polly - their daughter. We re-enacted a typical day and it was amazing to see how they expertly responded to daily crises like me getting imaginary shampoo in my eyes whilst having a virtual shower. "Put your head back Zia!" they cried. Gorgeous.

The things I love most about kids is their imagination, honesty and infectious energy. When I first arrived here, I was feeling exhausted and couldn't fathom how I was going to last to their 7:30pm bed time. Within half an hour of getting into their world, I was energised and felt 35 years younger. Now that they're in bed (way past their bedtime), my fatigue has returned. If it weren't for typing this post, I'd be in a sweet slumber myself.

The energy and joy I felt tonight is reminiscent to what I feel like when I'm out training. Since declaring my dream of running in the NYC marathon, every day out brings me closer to making it a reality. My imagination transports me there. With each step I imagine scenarios like running through Central Park and over the Brooklyn Bridge - and I'm just as pleased with my imaginary athleticism as what my nephew and niece were with their imaginary parenting.

As my eyelids grow heavy, I cannot help thinking that there's a lot to be said for those still in their single digits. How much sweeter life would be if we were to model ourselves on them:
  • When you're doing something you love, you are focused, present and cannot be dissuaded or distracted.
  • You have so much energy, you don't know what to do with it all - and can run around for hours without waking up sore the next day
  • You must have fun in all that you do, or it's not worth doing.
  • All problems are simply solved by imagination.
  • You call things as you see them and your honesty is seen as cute.
  • You know what you want and your determination will take you to great lengths to get it.
  • You don't take no for an answer.
  • You go to bed when the sun sets and up again when it rises.
On that note, it's time I bid you good night as the sun set quite some time ago.

Until tomorrow, remember what it was like to be a child and allow it to expand your imagination, honesty, joy and infectious energy. Oh, and remember to tilt your head back when you wash your hair ;-)

Grace xx

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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Look what I got today...

I was sitting down to lunch when the doorbell rang. I wondered whether it could have been my UPS parcel from New York. "Surely not, it's too soon", I thought to myself as I made my way down to the front door.

I opened up to find this...

Mr. Tellier from UPS with my parcel!

I was so excited, I asked Tellier if I could take a photo of this momentous occasion. Tellier obliged (I'm pretty certain that was his name - I didn't write it down and hope I did a good job of committing it to memory).

Tellier was a good sport and didn't appear frightened by my slightly eccentric enthusiasm and questionable appearance - I still had lunch on my teeth.

I quickly darted upstairs to open my parcel all the way from the USA, but not without taking this photo...

And this is what it contained...

My New York City Marathon Training Tshirt.

Feeling like a pro now.

Until tomorrow, be free to express your excitement - no matter whether it's big, small, or even if you have food in your teeth.

Grace xx

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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

What rice is right?

One thing I've found perplexing on the road to health and fitness is that what's right today is wrong tomorrow, and vice versa.

When I first joined the gym nigh on a year ago, I was instructed by a personal trainer (who featured on Australia's Biggest Looser) to 'smash it'. He operates by the 'no pain no gain' school of thought, however in my personal quest for aerobic endurance I've learned "no pain no gain, no brain".

Further to that is conflicting information about foods. Juicing is good. Juicing is not good. Carbs are essential. Carbs are non essential. Eliminate all fats. Eat good fats. Replace high GI (glycemic index) glucose with low GI fructose. Avoid fructose at all costs. And on and on it goes.

Then today, as I was leaving my acupuncture appointment, I asked what food would best support my spleen (apparently that's low in energy and needs nourishing). The answer to that was "Rice. Rice is good. Eat plenty of rice".

"Rice?" I thought to myself, "But isn't that a high GI carb that I should be avoiding at all costs - especially after 3pm?" Of course I didn't actually say any of this. Traditional Chinese Medicine has its own explanation, which I've found to be the antithesis of what I thought I knew. So I walked out of the clinic with my head tick, tick, ticking...
So how do I do this? Nourish my spleen while still remaining on my low GI lifestyle (which I adopted in April 2010 and slowly lost 15kg / 33 pounds as a result). Out of all the rice varieties in the world, which one is right?
To my knowledge thus far, there are two rice varieties that fulfil my needs - Basmati and the 'clever rice' known as Doongara. Both are low GI and both are spleen-nourishing rice. Bingo!

The acupuncture must have worked a treat as I crashed out on the couch as soon as I returned home. I fell into a deep slumber and awoke with news that Patrick was 'doing dinner' - Indian curry with Basmati rice supplied by our local Bombay Café for a small fee. Delicious. Spleen in recovery.

Until tomorrow, do what you know to be right today - and be nice to your spleen.

Grace xx

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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

To all my friends in Christchurch...

I am speechless.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by today's earthquake.


-Grace xx

PS. We love NZ so much. Spent our honeymoon there in 2003. We took this photo below of the Christchurch Cathedral. Below our image is a photo that was taken after the earthquake. To me, it represents an even greater loss - the loss of lives, hopes and dreams. So sad.

Monday, 21 February 2011

The pointy end of the deal

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, rest and relaxation is as much a part of training as the training itself.

This is something I've been struggling with lately - despite making attempts to wind down, go to bed early and practice the art of meditation, which I completely suck at. As a consequence, I've noticed that over the last week my running has gone from feeling like I'm gliding on silk, to wading through jelly (Australian for jello) - thus proving that R&R is an important component to my program.

This proved to be a catch-22.

The more I tried to relax, the more agitated I would become. The earlier I'd go to bed, the longer I'd spend tossing and turning. I've been driving myself insane. So before this R&R deficit escalated into becoming a real threat to the realisation of my dream, I decided I needed to nip it in the bud and seek professional help. I decided to get acupuncture.

I've had an on again off again relationship with acupuncture. Irrespective of how good I feel afterwards, I have an aversion to the sensation of my skin being pierced with needles. No matter how many times I've received treatment, this feeling is something I've yet to become accustomed to (not even after spending a month in Hanoi getting daily treatment in a locals only clinic just out of town).

As I laid on the treatment table anticipating my first puncture, I nervously wondered why, oh why, did I take this option. A few pricks and agitations later, the practitioner lit a flame and the pungent smell of moxibustion fumigated the room. Then, among the smoke, a clearing appeared - as did the answer to why...

I am doing this because 11 and a half weeks ago, I made a deal with myself. As I stared at my laptop screen contemplating my registration, I had a conversation with myself that went something like this:
"So you want to run in the New York City marathon do you?"


"I'm not sure about this. It'll cost a lot of money. Besides, you've said you've wanted to do things before and then changed your mind. I'm not sure I can trust you."

"That's because all the stuff I said I'd do was to try and keep you happy. I want to do this for me. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time. It'd be a dream come true."

"Fantasy more like it. You're 40, overweight and under fit. You were never good at sport during school and you've never done long distance running, don't you think you're biting off more than you can chew? Why don't you lose some weight first and get fit BEFORE you register, then I might have some faith in you."

"Don't you see, the only way I'll lose weight and get fit is to aim for something big, something that means so much to me that nothing will stand in the way."

"Nothing will stand in the way? Does that mean you'll do whatever it takes to get to New York and run this marathon?"




"Once we sign up, there's no going back. Deal?"

And so lying on my back, getting acupuncture and smoking up the place with moxibustion is me doing whatever it takes. Recharging my batteries so that I can resume the feeling of gliding on silk when I run is why, oh why, I subjected myself to the uncomfortable sensation of having my skin pierced with needles.

That is what I refer to as the pointy end of the deal.

Until tomorrow, remember that deals with yourself matter when it comes to manifesting dreams.

Grace xx

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Soothing Sunday Scene #1

I've come to learn in this journey that rest and relaxation is as much a part of training as the training itself.

In fact it has it's own word: RECOVERY.

I've introduced the Soothing Sunday Scene for two reasons:
  1. It will facilitate me to maintain daily posting, in a way that doesn't add any further stress.
  2. Each photo will be of a blissful place and remind me to relax, unwind and recover from the week's stress.
Enjoy the Soothing Sunday Scenes. I hope it relaxes you as it does me.


Saturday, 19 February 2011

Saturday Tip #1

Goals are head based.

Dreams are heart based

Achieving goals requires discipline and determination. Often you have to find ways to motivate yourself to keep going. You push you.

Dreams inspire you from within. When you feel that it is really possible and you're on the road to making a dream come true, you cannot keep yourself from chasing it. Dreams pull you.

What is your dream?

Friday, 18 February 2011

Things are looking UPS!

I am so excited!

No sooner did I tell everybody that I know and love about my new blog, did I receive an influx of invitations to meet (as far and wide as Bali, Canada and Philadelphia). All of which are tempting... perhaps I ought to seek sponsorship from an airline?

Talking about sponsorship, I have been offered my very first (ever) blog sponsorship - already? Wow. I'll reveal more as the days unfold.

Then if that wasn't enough cherry popping, I received my first comment by my beautiful and amazing mum (thanks Mum, I love you). Mum has always followed me quietly in the wings, so it was just great to see her words of encouragement as the (wait for it) first ever comment on my first ever post on 9 Months To New York.

And if I thought things couldn't look any better, I was wrong. I received this notification (pictured above) in my inbox. There's a UPS parcel with my name on it en route from the New York Road Runners, USA to chez moi.

Can I get anymore excited? I think not.

Until tomorrow, when the waves are up - surf them!

Grace xx

Sunday, 6 February 2011

9 months from today...

9 months from today, I will be in New York City - three days after my 41st birthday. My stomach will undoubtedly be full of enough metaphorical butterflies to lift me to the moon - or at least the start line.

It'll be the arrival of 'one of these days' - the one where I said I'd run a marathon sometime in my 40's. It'll be the culmination of all my training, focus, energy and faith. It'll be the day a dream comes true.

9 months from today, I will be running in the New York City marathon.