Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chevron Houston Marathon 2017 Training Week 9

I'm thankful I love to write and I document my life through this blog. We are 144 days away from the big day (you betcha I'm counting down!) and today I want to take a trip down memory lane for Once Upon a Run. 
During my first time training for the Chevron Houston Marathon, I was eating better and in much better shape than I am today. You can take a peek here. I was also dreaming of running the 30K during the warm-up series. God provided for my registration and new shoes. It was miraculous and I'm still thankful. The next year, I was training for Chicago so my miles were super high and I was training solo. This was me last year on week 9 of marathon training
This year, I am enjoying the wisdom earned through years of completing the marathon while still trying to get better at this running passion of mine.
Last Saturday I had a rough run. My energy was not there at all. The end of my summer was good but very busy. I must also confess, I wasn't eating well at all. 
Long run views are awesome
I knew what I needed to do but I just didn't have energy to start something new so I decided to stick with my good habits while eagerly waiting to pick up more good habits. 
Happy me out on a date with my husband.
The weekend before that rough run my husband and I went out twice. Twice I did not order dessert. I was very happy about that. That's what I mean by sticking with good habits until I can start new ones. Food journaling is a habit I resumed Sunday. I can't tell you how many times I tried to start and failed. Well, this is day 3 and it's going well. I've tried to do it digitally with all those wonderful apps but I now know that paper and pen is where I succeed.  
Getting leaner to run Houston is not gonna be easy but there are essential things I must do and one of them is food journaling. I appreciate your prayers and encouragement as I proceed in this journey. 

Previously in this Series:
• Week 1
• Week 2

• Week 3
• Week 4 - Barry Walter
• Week 5 - Christine Soliman
• Week 6 - Ron Booth
• Week 7
Week 8

Read the stories of my previous Marathons in Houston:
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2014
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2015
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2016 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Happy First Day of...

Hey mom and dad, you are sending your kid to school (or you are the school yourself) right? Here's what you need to know: 
You're loved - yes. It is about you. God loves you and He wants you to know that. You can't give what you don't have, so God wants you to feel incredibly loved today as you love on your little ones. 

Someone gets where you are - believe it or not, people, throughout the ages, except for Adam and Eve... Okay, let me finish my thought here :) People have done what you are doing. Find comfort in the fact that God created community for us to share and not to stand alone. So your little one is not back to school because you decided not to do preschool? There's someone out there who can relate. You also may be sending your 9th child to your kitchen table for the last year of high school. Rock on super mom and know that every emotion you are feeling is accounted for and every feeling is valid. We need community for so many reasons so don't stand alone. 

God is in control of the unknown - and He is the only one who knows how to do deal with the unknown. A lot of us are afraid of the unknown and that makes us human. God is not afraid of it (or of anything else for that matter) because He is in control. If fear is paralyzing you, get in touch with God through the Bible, prayer and a faithful friend. God knows what you are going through and He cares. He wants to give you His peace and assurance. Don't let fear paralyze you, get a hold of God. 

Enjoy today - I'm not sure if my kids will remember their every "first day of ...." event. What I now for sure is that their spirits will sense my inner peace or inner turmoil. Even though I might be nervous, excited and the array of feelings that accompany this day, I will remember to enjoy today. Today is a gift from God. I might not be able to check myself into a SPA for 8 hours but you know what, I can smile! I can take a deep breath and be thankful for the gift of motherhood. I can reminisce on the wonderful summer we just had. I can enjoy today and as I enjoy it, I rejoice in this day God has give me. 

I know some of you sent your kids to school already and we're just late to the party. If your kid(s) is(are) starting school today, remember that you need to be congratulated. My goodness, you kept them alive for another summer! You made that entire summer plan (or lack thereof) happen. That's a huge deal and I wish we could put that our my resume! 

The eternal truth you must remember is that God loves you, someone on earth understands, God's in control of the unknown and you must enjoy the gift of today. Have a great "first day of...!"

Friday, August 19, 2016

Camp Listenbee 2016: it's a wrap!

The last week of summer break is the last week of Camp Listenbee for us. I started the camp because, let's be honest, if you have any amount of kids with you during the summer, you are running a summer camp. Year 4th taught me some new lessons and I was reminded of other lessons I knew from summer's past. 
I asked my Facebook friends for questions about camp and here's what they wanted to know: 
Property of SimplyCintia.com
visiting a local children's museum
Q • How DO you do it!!? But seriously, do you have a schedule/plans? 
A • I learned that I need to be organized and that I needed a schedule. You can read my organization plan and see a sample schedule here. This is the first summer that I have two readers at camp. This has made things super exciting. They read quite a bit (even won a trophy, which they proceeded to break) and they read to their younger sister.
When I started camp I had a newborn. She was a toddler during the second year. When we had music time she'd walk around grabbing everyone's instruments ;) The key was to just try to engage her while respecting her little limits. The fact that she's child number three guaranteed that she'd roll with the punches and rolling she did. When everyone was little the camp schedule revolved around nap times and eating times, which was just fine with us.
Property of SimplyCintia.com
craft of the day. they were busy for 15 minutes with this one 
Q • How do you do activities for the youngest?
A • In my opinion, the most important activity for the youngest is eating and sleeping. Everything revolves around this. I also make sure to know what I'm good at. I'm good at music and I'm good at looking at Pinterest and finding some easy crafts. With the youngest ones, the simpler the better. If you can find one of those developmental sheets telling you what they are able to do at a certain age, you can go from there as far as crafts and activities.

Property of SimplyCintia.com
Cow Appreciation Day is a must!
Q • How did you adapt when something changed your plans? 
A • I honestly tried to be flexible but it was after I kicked and screamed on the inside. Then I remembered it was summer and I had plenty time at hand. By the end of the summer it got much easier to deal with change. This year we had a schedule but my understanding was that we were going to be flexible.

Property of SimplyCintia.com
Art. They love it!
Q • How did you balance between free/cheap things and things that cost a bit?
A • God blessed me with a job as a preschool teacher last year, so I was able to pay ahead for the costly things. Costly for me is different than costly for others but the key was to know what we could afford and pay for it ahead of time. During this season of life, I don't get invited to do a lot of expensive things so I don't have to deal with peer pressure. I try to stick with free of less expensive things. We swim at our gym and our membership covers that. It's not the coolest pool in the area but it is a pool and we are so very grateful for that. We love parks and they are always free. We also found a free indoor park in our area. Our family tries not to extend ourselves as far as entertainment. I'm also a believer that my kids don't worry about how much stuff costs, they just want to spend time with us as a family. As far as free resources, word of mouth is a good one and there are several blogs with free and cheap activities in every area.

Property of SimplyCintia.com
That one time we ate at the Mexican food truck in a construction site. Legit!
I'm so very thankful for my wonderful husband Zeke. Nothing we do would be possible without his love and support.
Property of SimplyCintia.com
My family, my treasure!
He's always excited about camp and he's always ready to enjoy all the activities with us. I love how we are experiencing so many different activities during the summer. The goal is not to keep everyone busy but to enjoy this wonderful life God gave us as a family. I still believe that today is the childhood memories my kids will remember. Our hope is that the kids will remember how loved and treasured they have always been. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Chevron Houston Marathon 2017 Training Week 8


Today I want to introduce you to Gabriela Mayo, my featured “Once Upon a Run” runner of the week. Gaby has been running for 3 and a half years and she is training for the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. Gaby and her husband are runners who were born in Mexico. As Gaby watched her husband cross the finish line at Houston a few years ago, she felt the incredible emotion coming from the cheers of the crowd and the incredible feeling of accomplishment from the runners. She told herself that she had to feel that rush from the other side as a runner. She ran Houston this year and she is currently training for 2017. 

Gaby originally discovered running after she moved to a neighborhood filled with beautiful running trails. She told me she didn’t know a lot about races but when she heard about the Houston marathon, she decided to train for the race. She told me that the concept of running a marathon but she was intrigued by the idea of conquering such a great challenge. 
Coach Linda, Gaby and I after a training run.
Running the Aramco Houston Half Marathon was a personal goal and Gaby took it seriously. It has been amazing to see her personal goal become her passion. I asked Gaby why she runs, she said in Spanish: 

“Because it helps me feel healthy physically, it improves my health and it helps me see that I can do a lot of things, so I love running. When I run, I forget about all the bad things that exist and it helps me think about all the good I can do as well as projects I can dedicate myself to do.” 

Miles 5-8 are her favorite Houston marathon miles, she said because 

“You are running with the group, you are strong and you are enjoying what you are doing.” 

Gaby had a special message to people out there who want to start running half marathons and marathons: 

“I want to invite people who want to start running to come and join Fort Bend Fit because it’s a great group. They help you prepare, they help you set goals, and you can see how many people can do it and you start thinking that you can do it too.” 

I want to thank Gaby for being such a passionate runner. Her dedication to running helps me treasure my own marathon journey. 

On a personal note, we are 150 days away from the start of the Chevron Houston Marathon! This week I continued in pursuit of my goal. I’ve settled well in my new (old) pace group. I am having so much fun making new friends each week and encouraging everyone to keep running. My goal is to write down my weekly average pace so I keep myself accountable. I also want to measure my improvement as the training goes by. 

This ended up being a super busy summer but thank God it was super fun too. I kept running and the cross training had good variety. This week I tried a local boot camp for the first time. My friends have been raving about it and they are getting amazing results. I enjoyed the workout. I’m the kind of person who will be afraid of getting sore but at the same time a burpee does not scare me at all. I have the “I can do hard things” mentality. I also know that as school gets back in session I’ll have a little more time to invest on this area. I’m not a fan of spending 8-5 in the gym but the nutrition part will be easier to control. Have an amazing week and keep running! 

Remember, there’s plenty time to join us as we run the Chevron Houston Marathon. Visit their website for more information. Remember, they also have a 5K option that’s optimal for all fitness levels.

Previously in this Series:
• Week 1
• Week 2

• Week 3
• Week 4 - Barry Walter
• Week 5 - Christine Soliman
• Week 6 - Ron Booth
Week 7

Read the stories of my previous Marathons in Houston:
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2014
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2015
• Chevron Houston Marathon 2016 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Back to School: Focused Volunteering


Volunteering opportunities abound with the school year starting soon. Different organizations recruit volunteers in different ways. Here’s what never changes: someone, somewhere needs your valuable time.
I believe in what I call Focused Volunteering. You may be thinking, “well Cintia, what is it?” I’m glad you asked. Focused Volunteering is the act of using your specific skill set and your time limitations to make the maximum impact in a particular environment.


This time I’m asking you to only volunteer if the job falls in the Focused Volunteering category.

Here’s what you need to do in order to practice Focused Volunteering:

Know your skill set - You must know what your strengths are. I’m not good at setting up chairs because putting things in order is not my passion. I can’t be a good volunteer for setting a classroom up because of that simple fact. I’m not good at baking cookies because for years my kids thought that burned cookies were really chocolate ones (ops!). I am good in the area of communications. I can write a mean press release and I am excellent at writing, teaching and executing communication strategies. Because I know my skill set, I can offer more value to the organization I choose to help through Focused Volunteering.

Know your time limitations - Some people have 20 hours a week to volunteer. I’m not one of them. Through Focused Volunteering, the time I do give will be well spent. Number one because it will be used in my unique skill set. Number two because I won’t be frustrated due to the obligation of filling time with something I’m not passionate about. If you can be honest with yourself about the time you have available to volunteer, you can make a greater impact in your organization of choice. Know your limits and verbalize them before agreeing to volunteer. Don't agree to hours of volunteer work if it will take away your peace and joy. Agree to what you can do well and know exactly how much time you can commit to Focused Volunteering.

Know your “bad yes” triggers - for every “yes” out there, there is a Good Yes and a Bad Yes. The Good Yes comes from someone who knows their skill set and their time limit. The Bad Yes comes from someone who is easily persuaded to volunteer through triggers such as:

  • Social pressure - in some circles, volunteering in great volumes is like wearing a trophy. The behind the scenes tough, looks chaotic and frazzled all the time.
  • Manipulation - be alert because this one because may come from outside or inner sources. For example, you may think, “well, if I don’t volunteer, no one will and the organization (and the world) will come to an end. I MUST SAVE THE WORLD!” You and I know this is not true. The fact is, if you don't do it all, someone with that skill set will likely show up. If they don't, someone with great potential will finally get to develop their leadership skills. Manipulation may also come from outside sources who are so badly trying to fill a position so they will do anything just to get officers in place. True service comes from a willing heart, free from guilt and filled with the joy of giving so beware of being manipulated into a position.

We have all been guilted into doing something. Know your triggers and have a game plan. If you know you can’t say “no” develop the habit of asking the following question: “can I think about it for 24 hours?” Trust me, there isn’t a sensible person that will not say No to this. Use those 24 hours to meditate on how that volunteering position will impact your life. Ask yourself, "is this my skill set or an area that will allow me to grow and thrive?" Look in your calendar and see if you can fit that position there but with plenty time to do it justice. Don't stick volunteering there if you will be stretched thin. If you find that that you can dedicate yourself fully to that volunteer position, go ahead and answer my 5 questions about volunteering. Much thought needs to go into volunteering, that's why some might not want you to ask yourself "can I think about it for 24 hours?" Committing to a position should be done with thought, joy and care, always.

I hope you give Focused Volunteering a try this Fall. I know this concept will be beneficial to you, your family and the wonderful organizations you serve.