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An Open Letter to 41, On the Eve of my 42nd Birthday

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Dear 41,

With 42 standing just outside the door, waiting for you to make your exit, there are a few things I need to tell you before we part ways forever.  Before I can say good-bye, I want you to know how much our trip around the sun together has meant to me.

We have seen a lot of good days, and some bad.  We’ve shared laughter and tears.  We’ve had our ups and downs, but that was all after you came roaring in last October while I was in the middle of my third semester of nursing school.  We cried together when things were hard, but you also stayed by my side and saw me through to the end.  We made it all the way through school together.  You watched me graduate with honors and rise above my fears to be the student speaker at my graduation ceremony.

We experienced so many adventures together.  We traveled to NYC, Louisville, Columbus, Memphis, North Carolina, Kentucky Lakes, the mitten (twice), Chicago and more.  We saw my Cubbies win the World Series-something I always hoped for, but never really believed I would see.  We ran the St. Judes Marathon in December; running through the St. Judes campus hearing, “Thank you, Hero!” from the parents and the kids we raised money for, was absolutely unforgettable.

Traveling to NYC with the beau was amazing, spending a week at Kentucky Lake with the kids was full of laughs, we enjoyed a week at the beach with the Jacobs side and last but certainly not least, hiking to the top of a mountain in the Smokies where we got engaged to the love of my life!  It has been quite a year.

We started my very first nursing job, 41!  And I could not be happier.  I really love it!  Working with a father/daughter OB/Gyn team is the perfect setting for me.  I love the hope for the future that I get to witness on a daily basis.  I have found my passion, my calling, my purpose.  I was born for this, but you were the one who helped me figure that out.  On any given day, my heart bursts with happiness and breaks wide open for the patients I am coming to know.  All while wearing my dad’s stethoscope around my neck.

41, you were certainly not without frustrations, but we conquered things together and we made it.  You have set things up for 42 to be something really special.  Make no mistake about it, 41, you will always have a special place in my heart.  You helped me come to a point of truly accepting that I am a work in progress.  Not just saying those words, but owning them, believing them and embracing them.  You helped me find my peace, 41, and for that I will be forever grateful.  I know I’m going to miss you and it’s hard to let you go.  Not because I am afraid of 42, or whatever lies beyond, but because of all you have done to make me who I am, the person who I am supposed to be.  From the bottom of my heart, 41, thank you.  Thank you for everything.

All my love,

RRG

PS. Don’t tell the others, but so far, you are hands down my favorite.

First Day of 41

Last Day of 41

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What the Heart Needs

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It’s the middle of February and Valentine’s Day is upon us, so you can probably guess what this post is about. Yes, Love.  But before you roll your eyes, or run away screaming, just bear with me for a bit.  I guarantee I’m not going where you think I am with that.

I’m not gonna lie, the first 6 weeks of 2016 have been tough. I didn’t even blend a family and I can tell you that this blended family thing is haaaaard.  Going through a divorce, hard.  Learning to be a single parent, hard.  Helping my kids (and myself) through the transition of their dad getting remarried, I had no idea.

I’ve been saying it all along, my head knows that nothing, absolutely NO-THING, can replace me as my kiddos’ mom. My head has had that thought on repeat for the past couple of months.  I just wish my heart would catch up to the idea.  Every other Thursday when my babies leave for the weekend with their dad, my heart breaks a little, knowing that they are not only spending that time with their dad, but also growing a relationship with another mother figure.

Don’t get me wrong, I WANT them to have a relationship with their step-mom. And I want them to be close with her.  But I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt somewhat.

So, as we’ve been riding the rollercoaster of learning how to do this, I’ve tried to remind myself to find what my heart needs.

A couple weeks ago, knowing that I needed a break from the familiar everyday reminders of what life is now, Brian and I loaded up the car for a weekend in the woods. We drove to Table Rock Lake and spent a blissful weekend, with shockingly high temps for January, hiking, watching the sunset, playing pool and ping-pong (I went down gloriously at both) and sitting by the fireplace drinking wine.  It was perfect.  It was exactly what my heart, and my head, needed.

While it would be really nice to just jump in the car and drive to a cabin in the woods whenever I felt the anxiety or the sadness or the frustration start to overwhelm me, that’s just not realistic. Fortunately, I do have an old friend, that never lets me down when I need a break from reality.  His name is running.  He will go the distance with me, or if I don’t have time for a long visit, short and sweet works for him too.  The other day, we got another brief break from the cold of January, and while I only had time for 3 short miles, running came through.  It was one of those perfect experiences where my feet felt light, my lungs felt full and my heart felt happy.

So, back to the whole Valentine’s Day thing. February 14, to a lot of people, is really just another day.  A Hallmark Holiday. I totally get that.  But for me, it’s undeniably special.  This Sunday, while couples all over the world are exchanging flowers and chocolates (Yes, I have something for my sweetie, too) I will actually be celebrating the 13th anniversary of the day I became a mom.

I say all the time that God knew exactly what he was doing when He gave me Ally first. I also say that if Silas had been first, he would probably be an only child, but that’s beside the point.

Ally becomes a teenager on Sunday. My baby girl, who was the best Valentine ever, is about to turn 13.  With this milestone, it’s hard not to be even more reflective that usual.  13 is a big deal.

But here’s the hard part. This Sunday, Ally will wake up at my house and we’ll have cake for breakfast cause that’s how we roll.  And then she will go back to her dad’s and spend the rest of the day there, because that’s how the custody schedule works.

Fortunately, I get tomorrow with her, so we’ll get pedicures and drink Starbucks and I will probably even take her shopping (her choice, not mine). I’ve wrapped her presents and I’m working on her requested One Direction birthday cake.  I’m open to ideas on that one.  Anyone?

But then she will go and spend the rest of the weekend with her other family, the one I’m not a part of. I will be ok.  This is something that it took me a while to get used to, because anyone who knows me at all, knows that I LOVE Birthdays.  Seriously, I love them.  I make a huge deal out of them.  My mom always does the same, so I come by it honestly.  But I will be ok.  Because I know what my heart needs.  My heart just needs to be reminded that I am her mom and I always will be.

There’s a quote by Elizabeth Stone that goes, “Making a decision to have a child—it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

My heart turns 13 on Sunday, and even though she won’t be with me all day, she will be well loved, by many. I can’t help but think about the song I used to sing to her as a baby.  I would sit and hold her and sing to her.  I would keep singing long after her eyes would close and she would drift off to sleep.

The song begins, “You’re a little piece of heaven, You’re a golden ray of light, And I wish I could protect you from the worries of this life…”

Since I can’t sing you the whole song, you can check it out here.

She’s still my little piece of heaven, and now she is a BOLD golden ray of light that shines brighter all the time. No matter how old she gets, I will always want to protect her.  As she crosses the threshold of 13, I know that so many heartbreaks are right around the corner for her, but she is strong and I will walk with her through anything.  I could not be more proud of the person she is and who she is becoming.  She is so beautiful, inside and out.  She is smart, and determined, and loving, and thoughtful and she is not afraid to stand up for herself.

I know my heart will be ok, because even when it wonders off, it always comes back. And I know who is holding my heart in His hands.  Because He knows what my heart needs even before I do.

There are seasons in life that are hard, it’s just that simple. But even during those times, the heart will find what it needs if you let it.  It’s in the moments when the sun is shining, or when the wind is at your back, when your feet feel light and your heart is happy.  Eventually it will be 13 years later and you’ll look back to realize you don’t even remember the pain, all you can see is the beauty that came from it.  And all that remains is love.

Happy 13th Birthday, Little Al.

Happy 13th Birthday, beautiful girl.

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Letting Go of the Martyr Thing…

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Before I start, I want to give a quick update on Katherine.  Thank you so much for all the prayers, she is doing really well.  She was awake about a day after I posted and was communicating through writing while she was still intubated.  Last I heard, the breathing tube was removed and she was resting up in preparation for surgery scheduled for today to repair her facial fractures.  She still has an intensive recovery ahead of her, but the worst is behind us. She proved that she is the Superwoman we all believed her to be!
Something cool that happened from my last post was that my friend Leslie reached out because she had just met Katherine a couple weeks ago.  Katherine had posted looking for a photographer in Chicago and I gave her Leslie’s name.  Leslie had the pleasure of meeting Katherine’s entire family on the River front for photos.  Leslie thanked me for bringing my world’s together.  I always say I love small world stories, but my world is small because I make it that way.  I love bringing people together.  It’s who I am.
Now I’ll tell you a story…
Today I went out for a nice, little 16 mile run.  Ok, so most people wouldn’t put little in the same sentence as running 16 miles.  Fair enough.  I did the same thing I’ve done the past couple Thursdays, which has become my one “free day” during the week.  I don’t have to go to school on Thursdays and if I work it isn’t until later in the day.  So I’ve been dropping the kids at school and taking advantage of my solitude out in the woods.
This morning a couple ladies asked me if I was a “real ultra runner”.
“Are you an ultra runner? Because you look like an ultra runner.”
“I’ve done AN ultra”, I informed them.  “And I’m getting ready to run Berryman next weekend.”
“Oh, doesn’t that have one that’s like 50 miles?”
“Yes, but I’m just doing the marathon.”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I heard how ridiculous it sounded.  “Just a marathon”.
At what point did we become a society that belittles our accomplishments?  I realize that the running community is known for this, but it happens a great deal in our everyday lives too.
I’m “just” a stay at home mom.  I’m “just” an associate.  I’m “just” a (fill in the blank).
I was thinking about this while I ran today.  And let’s face it, even though I “just” ran 16 miles, I was out there for the better part of the morning.  So I thought about several of the events of the past week.  Such as…
Last Thursday morning when I arrived at the Al Foster trail head, I pulled into the parking lot “just” ahead of my friend Heather.  (See what I did there?  Ok, sorry, I’ll stop.  For now.)  Heather was meeting a girlfriend to go for a run.  They invited me to join them, but I didn’t want my pace to slow them down.  And I was in need of zoning out, so I sent them on ahead.  But we chatted in the parking lot for a bit.  Heather gave me some of the details about Katherine’s accident that I hadn’t gotten.  We were all still pretty shaken by the whole thing.
Before Heather and her friend left, Heather said something that stuck with me this week.  She said there was a song that she always associates with me when she hears it on the radio.  I couldn’t place the song she meant, but I appreciated the sentiment.  It was something about a fight song.  I planned to look it up later.
That was Thursday, the weekend was a whirlwind!  Friday I dropped the kids at our friends house to ride to school, headed off to school myself, straight to work from there and finally arrived home in time to put Silas to bed Friday night, so I could study for a bit.
Saturday was off to the races early.  I dropped Ally at her dad’s for coverage of her day’s activities (Cue:severe mommy guilt for missing her Gymnastics Showcase).  Then we had Ethan’s baseball pictures at 9am and game at 10am.  The game went into extra innings, because I wasn’t stressed enough about the schedule, and we came screeching into the garage just minutes before Ethan’s friends arrived for his birthday party.  Fortunately my beau and his little dude were already there, just in case.  Brian and I filled canteens for all the boys, loaded everyone into the cars and headed off to Shaw Nature Reserve for an afternoon of hiking and exploring.  After everyone was thoroughly exhausted, we headed home for parents to pick up their boys. I ordered pizza while our boys played Wii.  Then B and I collapsed on the couch for a bit.  I may even have dozed briefly.  After B and G left, and my boys were settled for the night, and Ally was retrieved from her cousin’s house, I sat down for another study session until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.
Sunday morning we were all pretty quiet.  B and G were back in time to go church with all of us. We caravan-ed over to the Crossing and I passed my kiddos off to their dad after service.  Then I raced home to change clothes and grab food before going to work for the day.  After work, I got in a short run and a shower and I was studying (while cooking salmon and drinking a glass of wine) when B showed up for dinner.  Neither one of us had enough energy to do anything more than sit on the couch.
Monday morning I was up with the sun for one last study session before heading off to school to take another exam.  I tanked this one.  And by tanked I mean it brought my average down to a 94%.  I’ll survive to see another day.  But my competitive nature is flaring.  During the 3 hours of lecture that followed, I found my mind wandering more than usual.  And at 1:00 when I finally sat down on my counselor’s mini-couch (I won’t say love seat, that’s a stupid name for a piece of furniture, especially in a therapist’s office), I promptly burst into tears.
“I’m so tired!”  I sobbed.
CRASH!  That was the the sound of my martyrdom crashing head first into a solid, cinder block wall.
We talked about a lot in our hour, but that’s covered under patient confidentiality so I can’t tell you the details.  I can, however, tell you that a big part of it had to do with me taking care of…me.
Yes, it’s true.  I have this problem with being a martyr.  I try to be all things to all people.  I make sure everyone is cared for.  And while I stepped out on my own a few years ago as a single woman, in an effort to take care of me, my needs, my heart, I still find myself crawl back into the role of martyr on occasion. It’s a sneaky, subtle process.  And then eventually I hit a breaking point which brings me to the realization that I’m back.
Last night I was out to pick up a couple things, gifts for Ally’s teachers and supplies for Silas’ talent show skit.  He’s going to be Silas the Mad Scientist and do “experiments” with Pepsi and Mentos.  I hope someone will take a video since I will be at my own last day of class that day.  I walked into Bread Co to get some gift cards for the teachers and I saw, none other than, Amy Marxkors.  I find it hilarious that this girl and I can try and try and try to make plans, but they always fall through.  And then randomly we will run into each other multiple times in a week.  I saw her twice last week at the end of my 13 mile run on Al Foster.
I gave her a quick run down of what’s going on with me and found out about some cool new projects she is working on.  And then, like a flash, she was gone.  Off to deliver a strawberry smoothie to the little girl she was tutoring.  But the thing that is so cool about my random Marxkors sightings, is that they may be brief, but they are always profound.  I texted her later to say how glad I was to see her and that I knew it was supernatural.  Her text back was on point…”Oh, I’m so glad! It is crazy how we run into each other at just the right time.  Be strong and deny the “martyr” thing.  That’s just a lie the devil uses to steal our lives.  God talks about quiet and stillness.  You need that.  Don’t sacrifice that.”
So, today as I enjoyed my quiet and stillness…maybe not so much physical stillness as just letting my brain be still, I heard Him softly telling me, “It’s ok. You do an amazing job of taking care of everyone, but it’s ok to take care of yourself.  You are my child, too. Let go of the martyr thing…”
While a part of me wants to jump up and down and scream, “WooHoo!”, there is an equal part of me that isn’t really sure what letting go looks like.  Change is scary.  It’s “just” hard.  But’s it’s also a necessary part of growth.
I have proven I’m a fighter.  I have proven I can do any darn thing I set my mind to.  I have proven I can be a full time mom, go to school, work and keep everything running like a well oiled machine.  But who am I trying to prove any of this to?  Now it’s time for me to prove that the fighter in me can fight the urge to be the martyr. Because I am so much more than “just” a martyr.  I can let go. I can make waves no matter what I’m doing. Or not doing. Starting now I reclaim my life.  I reclaim me.
And Heather’s song is still just as appropriate.  Take a listen…
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What I Wish Everyone Knew About the “D” word

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I’ve seriously tried to write this post a handful of times over the past couple weeks.  Every time I start, I get stuck.  The words won’t come but the tears do, so I have to set it aside for a while.  Hopefully this will be the time that I will finally say what I need to so I can move on. And hopefully I can say it eloquently, so it doesn’t sound like I’m whining or judging.

My frustration is not for nothing.  The topic here is one that no one particularly likes to talk about.  It usually involves hushed tones, guilt, shame.  It’s taboo.  It feels like the unforgivable sin.  It’s the “d word”.

Here’s what I wish everyone knew about divorce.  Very simply, please stop referring to it as “the easy way out”.  Please.  I implore you.

I assure you there is absolutely nothing easy about divorce.  There is nothing easy about coming to the decision of ending your marriage.  There is nothing easy about going through with it.  There is nothing easy about spending thousands of dollars on someone to help you split your assets, and more importantly the time with your children.  There is nothing easy about coming home to an empty house when you used to be a full time family.  There is nothing easy about being both mother and father in a household.  There is nothing “easy” about any of it.  And until you’ve been through it, which I don’t wish on anyone, you really have no idea what this road of uncertainty looks like, or how to navigate it.

I’ve heard it said that the stress caused by divorce is equivalent to losing a loved one.  I think every situation is different, but I’ve lost enough people I love to know that major life changes are hard.  Death is a natural part of life and there is a grieving process involved.  Typically during that process, people reach out in love, offering to help relieve the pain, even if just for a little while.  Death is extremely painful to deal with, and there usually isn’t a choice involved.

I guess that with divorce, because there is a choice, at least usually by one of the parties involved, people don’t feel as much of a need to reach out in that same empathetic, caring way.  It’s viewed as, you’re choosing this, you’re…giving up.  You failed.

In a divorce, no one wins. If the marriage was the first or the fifth, if it lasted a year or a decade or more, if it produced children or not, if you filed or you were served, I can tell you that regardless of all of those things, it sucks.  It sucks for everyone involved.  I’ve only been through it once, but I know without a doubt that I don’t want to go through it again.  I don’t want my kids to have to go through it again.

I know that anyone who told me to “try harder” or “be loyal” probably wasn’t aware that I’d had those same conversations over and over with myself in my own head for years before I ever finally voiced the “d word” out loud as a possibility.  I mean, for crying out loud, I completed a 15 hour race.  I am not a quitter by any means.  I am someone who knows how to push through and persevere.  But sometimes, we have to look at the options and see that while we don’t particularly like either of the outcomes, we have to choose the one that makes the most sense for us.  By “us” I mean each of us, as individuals.

The more I tried to retreat to a place of safety to process what my needs were, the more I was bombarded with the pleas to stay.  Pleas that came from every direction.  Everyone wanted to be the one to fix it, to fix me. When what I really needed was space, quiet, and sometimes someone to just hold my hand and let me grieve that the life I had planned for myself had gone way off track.

But the pleas were so loud it was hard to hear the muffled sound of myself trying to find my own voice.  A voice that had been buried for so long that the only way to find it again was to go down a road that some people, not everyone, deem “the easy route”.  Somehow I found my voice and it said, “This.  This is what’s best for me.  Go this direction.”

We are human.  We are not perfect.  But we are also not meant to do life alone.  Last week in church, Pastor Greg went back to the familiar story in Genesis.  He talked about how God created Adam and it was not good for him to be alone.  So from Adam’s very own rib, He created Eve.  And He presented her to Adam as a gift.  God gave them the gift of each other.  And it is for that reason that a man should leave his father and mother to be one with his wife.  Our creator wants us to be united to another.

But what happens when that unity doesn’t last forever?  Well, then you run out into the rainy parking lot after the service is over to retrieve the kids’ backpacks so you can pass them off to the other parent who will have them for the next couple days.  And then you wonder, as you are standing there in the lobby of Kids Crossing holding all the gear, if it is as painfully obvious to everyone else that you are in the midst of “the swap”.

But what else really happens after the papers are signed?  You continue to do the best you can with the situation you’re in.  You keep seeking to find an identity that doesn’t include a marital status.  You go on about your life knowing that the daily struggles are many, which is true regardless of whether you are married or not.  Sure it would be easier if we could all claim a loving, caring, supportive spouse, but even of those marriages in existence that isn’t always the case.

I have so many friends that have come to me in the past few months with questions about where they want their marriage to go.  Somehow going through the “d word” has made me an expert on a topic that I never wanted to know about.  I wish some of these friends would stay together, I think others are better off apart, but I hope they all do due diligence to make sure they’ve done everything they can.  I know none of them just woke up one day and decided “That’s it.  Peace out.”  It takes time to get to the point of brokenness that results in the d word.  But the fact remains, I am not in any of their marriages, so I really don’t know what it looks like to the two of them.  I need to keep my own baggage in check and not drag it out into their story.

I’ve dealt with my baggage.  And I’m continuing to deal with it.  But the truth is, it’s still hard.  Even after almost 3 years, I still have daily challenges because of it.  Some are obvious, some less so.  And for a large portion of that time I’ve been in a relationship with a pretty fantastic fella.  I’d like to think I don’t project any of my junk onto him, but chances are, sometimes it gets in the way, whether I’m aware of it or not.

I think I’ve been pretty successful at the single mom thing.  I have a job.  I’ve kept a roof over our heads.  I get the kids to their activities on time (mostly).  I feed them (sometimes with fast food).  I’m proud of the people they are becoming.  I’m proud of the person I am becoming.

But I still get lonely.  I still miss my kids.  I still get sad when they go on vacations without me.  I still don’t like being the one to pay the bills each month and have to deal with the financial stuff.  I still wish I had a spouse I could pass some of the responsibility off to every once in a while, especially when something breaks.  I still sometimes think about being a traditional family unit, and I miss it.

I don’t regret the choice I made, but this certainly isn’t where I thought I would end up when my dad walked me down the aisle almost 15 years ago.  Every time we are presented with a choice, we are at a fork in the road, but the options are not labeled “hard” and “easy”.  Either direction we choose will present its own set of challenges.  And unless you’re on a specific path, you really have no idea what those challenges will be.  So, here I am, on this path, I’m sure its easier than some.  And I’m figuring it out as I go.  Just like everybody else.  Some days are smooth, some days aren’t. I’ll take the obstacles as they come.  And I’ll just keep going.

What’s the saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes? I guess if you want to come take a spin in my shoes to see how easy it is, you’re more than welcome to.  I mean, I work at a running store.  I do have a few extra pairs.

 

*One additional note, tomorrow would be my parents 43rd wedding anniversary.  I know that in the almost 30 years that they had together, they had their share of challenges.  But I am thankful for their example of what a healthy marriage looks like.  I don’t know if I will ever have a marriage like theirs, but I know that if I do, it will transcend time and space and even death.  Thank you, Mom and Dad, for your example of love.

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Ode to Mayberry

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It’s funny that I consider myself a city girl at heart, when I really could not imagine a more perfect setting for my run this morning than Mayberry USA.  It’s the 4th of July, Independence Day, and I’m spending it with my kids in the town that I spent so many of the Christmases and Thanksgivings and 4ths of July of my childhood.

Quincy, IL is nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River, just across from Hannibal, MO, home of Mark Twain.  It’s about halfway between St. Louis and Chicago, so it’s one of those rare places where Cubs and Cardinals fans can set aside their differences, focus on their mutual love of baseball and actually be friends.  This is a town where people decorate their houses for the holiday like it’s their patriotic duty, large flags flying and small flags stuck in the ground lining the sidewalks.

As I set off on my run this morning, I wasn’t really sure how far I would end up going.  I was hoping for 6, but I wasn’t sure if my hip would let me go more than 3 or 4.  It’s still giving me trouble and I’m just hanging on to hope that it will hold out another couple weeks to get me through that half marathon at the end of Racine 70.3.

I left my Grandma’s house and headed west on Payson Road over to 24th street.  I turned north at Niemann’s Horse Farm, which holds a secure spot in my earliest memories of this place. I ran past the entrance to my Aunt and Uncle’s neighborhood and I waved hello to a man driving a tractor down the road.  I ran past homes with freshly painted porches and manicured lawns, well maintained, showing the pride these folks have in the lives that they’ve built here.   I continued north on 24th all the way to Maine St.  That’s right, Maine, with an ‘e’.  As I stood at the corner of 24th and Maine, waiting for the traffic to clear, I nodded hello at a couple cyclists and I smiled at the driver of an old-school Ford as he cruised on by.

I ran west down tree lined Maine, past all the old mansions, toward the heart of downtown and the river.  At some points the brick sidewalk showed the age of the town, you could see how the roots of the huge trees had grown over the years, breaking the bricks and rippling the sidewalk.  It got a little treacherous, but it was well worth it for the nostalgia of the day.  I thought of our trip out to Camp Point last summer to see all the sights of where my dad had lived in his earliest years before the Jacobs clan came to Quincy.  My Uncle Tim drove us out there last year for the Camp Point 4th of July parade (be careful not to blink or you might miss the whole thing).  We went by the cemetery to pay homage to my Grandpa Wayne who fought with the Navy in World War II and my Great-Grandpa Issac who fought with the Army in World War I.  We drove past my Great-Grandma Winnie’s little pink house…or where it used to stand anyway.  We stopped by the park and got root beer floats and elephant ears, at 10am.  Breakfast of champions.

I snapped back to present day when I got to 12th street.  I briefly considered turning right and bailing on my run with a stop at Maid-rite, but instead I went left and headed back in the direction of my Grandma’s house, knowing that my kids were probably chomping at the bit to get over to swim with my cousins.  They adore my cousin Jerrison, who is the youngest of 3 boys my Aunt Jane and Uncle Tim adopted from Haiti a few years ago and is the same age as Ally.  I ran down 12th, past the Governor John Woods mansion on my left, and Mr. Bill’s Bar and Grill to my right.  I ran to South Park, established 1895.  I ran on 12th until it turns into Cherry Lane and leads back to 24th. I ran over the Curved Creek bridge and up the hill by Niemann’s, past the long white fence lined with American flags flapping in the breeze.

At this point I realized I was going to top out just shy of 8 miles for the day. I guess there is something to be said for sentimentality carrying me through and over-riding the pain.  The sun was high and it was warming up, I probably should have brought water (I usually try to practice what I preach with this one).  I started wondering if I should have headed out on the bike before my run this morning since I need more practice with transitions.  I did get in a decent brick workout yesterday, a ride out through the country roads with surprisingly more rolling hills than I would have thought, followed by a short run.  But today, was about getting back to being who I am.  Before I was a triathlete, I was a runner.  Even before that though, I was a Jacobs.  That’s the thing I really love about being here in Quincy.  Even time I come back, I am always reminded of who I am.  And even with all my baggage and goofiness and geekiness, here I am completely 100% comfortable with all of my weirdness.  That’s the thing about the Jacobs family; we’re all about the more the merrier.  We quote lines from the National Lampoon Vacation movies.  We help each other.  We love baseball.  We share stories about the good old days.  We take a lot of pleasure in the over-the-top fireworks display that my Uncle Jerry puts on.  We take naps on Norma’s couch and we cheer on our beloved Cubs without fear of ridicule.  We eat a lot.  We put together jigsaw puzzles and watch reruns of Andy Griffith and Cheers.  We’re not extravagant, we just are who we are.  We’re loyal.  We’re accepting. We’re not perfect, but we love without judgment.  We find comfort in family and traditions, and we know how to celebrate life without holding back.

I used to declare that I’m not sentimental, because I don’t keep a lot of “stuff”, but today proved that might not be entirely accurate.  Maybe I don’t keep the “stuff” but I keep the memories and I remember the traditions, and that’s what really matters.  Being a Jacobs is near and dear to my heart.  I’m proud to be who I am, and I’m proud of where I came from.  And obviously, I’m not completely averse to keeping the “stuff” because my Great-Grandpa Issac that I mentioned earlier…well, his old trunk from when he headed off to the war has found a home in my living room.

Yesterday I got this picture of my niece from my brother, with the caption: It’s like she wakes up every day and says…what is something awesome I can do today?

Brooke Love Jacobs...being awesome

Brooke Love Jacobs…being awesome

My text back to him was: Well, duh.  She’s a Jacobs.  Would you expect anything else?!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a burger and some strawberry pie to eat before we head off to a small town baseball game and fireworks.

Happy 4th everyone!  I hope you are all enjoying your families today, as much as I am enjoying mine. And I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to say a heartfelt thanks to those who have given their lives and fight for the freedoms that we enjoy and celebrate on this day.  Thank you and God Bless America!

Mama J and RRG having breakfast in Camp Point, IL 7/4/12

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Living Out Loud

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Every day that you wake up and are breathing, you are given another opportunity for an adventure.  Some days the adventures are hidden and you have to search for them among the mundane.  However, sometimes the adventures jump out at you from behind every corner.  We never really know what the day has in store for us when we roll out of bed in the morning.  Or in my case, as I drag myself out of bed in the morning.  I am not exactly a morning person.  Until I’ve had coffee, I don’t think I’m actually capable of a coherent conversation, at least not a very pleasant one, just ask my kids.  Trust me, I don’t jump out of bed everyday, throw on my explorer’s cap and head out in search of an adventure, but sometimes adventure just has a way of finding me.  Today was that kind of day.

I got up today thinking I would head to the pool for a swim, but for some reason I showed up at the completely wrong time.  Oh well, I went home, ordered a Bridesmaids dress for Farrell’s wedding and went about my day.

Last night I was over at Farrell’s house for a bit, before I met Steve to see the movie The Internship. I found it hilarious, I’m pretty sure Steve went just to humor me. Anyway, while I watched Linds cut up brussel sprouts (yes, really) she was telling me that this is the week to sign up to volunteer for Ironman Arizona 2013 in order to earn a “speedpass” which ensures registration into Ironman Arizona 2014.  Why in the world would I want to do that?  Nope, not happening.

Well, something happened between last night and this morning.  At approximately 7:17am, I got the following text from Teri regarding IMAZ: Leave your options open—sign up and get a volunteer spot and cancel if that’s best.

At 7:38am, I sent the following text to Farrell: Ok, I’ll sign up to volunteer.  I don’t have a clue how this is going to work.  Going on faith…

Volunteer registration didn’t open until 2pm our time, so I went off to Big Shark to join the Monday morning women’s ride.  Ok, so that might have had the tiniest bit to do with the fact that there is a boy who works at Big Shark that I kind of enjoy looking at…I mean talking to…alright, both.  But, seriously, it was mostly for the ride.  (And the boy, let’s just be real here)  Anyway, I needed to get a solid ride in, so after a quick stop at the post office, I was parked in front of Big Shark waiting for the others to show.  There was only one other person who showed.  He was not a woman.  So, my ladies ride of 18ish miles, turned into a 46 mile ride, through some crazy intense hills with my new friend, Greg.  Side note, when Greg said his name, I thought he said, “Grey”, so that will become his new nickname from me since I spent our entire ride thinking he was named after a color.  Why I thought he said this, is beyond me, maybe I’ve been reading too much 50 shades. (Shrug)  Greg started to take off solo, so I asked if he minded me tagging along since I’m still a rookie.  He said sure.  We made a quick stop at Mobile on the Run and then we were off into the hills of Wildwood.  And Oh my goodness, he definitely did not take it easy on the newbie!  Those hills are ridiculous.  On some of those climbs, I seriously wondered if I was going to fall over from lack of forward motion.  And I think I need new brakes from trying to spare myself a wipeout of catastrophic proportions on the way down.  Of course, by the end, I wasn’t riding the brakes quite so hard, I was almost starting to enjoy the rapid decent.  It kind of started to feel like I was flying.  Or maybe I was just really happy to not have to use my legs to propel me uphill anymore.  Climbing hills makes me feel powerful, but after that long, they just made me feel tired.

For about 3 hours, Greg and I rode and talked about all kinds of stuff…our families, my kids, school, work, etc.  At times all I could hear was him encouraging me up a hill along with the sound of my lungs about to explode from my heavy breathing.  Greg kept saying he didn’t really think I was a rookie.  My response, as usual, was, “What I lack in speed and ability, I make up for it with determination”.  I’m all heart, I know this about me.  He called me “Supermom”, I said I must have left my cape at the dry-cleaners.   I made it 46 miles.  Now, I know I have a half Ironman in 3 weeks so I should have been up to at least that many miles on the bike already, but here’s the thing…that was my longest ride to date.  Victory! (Don’t judge me.  I’m a working, single mom.  Who has the time to spend 3-4 hours on a bike multiple times a week?!) And that longest ride ever, did I go flat?  Oh, no. It was flipping hard with those hills mixed in.  So, how do I feel about a 56 mile bike ride in Racine sandwiched between a 1.2 miles swim and a half marathon?  I feel like I’m gonna crush it!  Today’s ride was a huge boost to my confidence and I needed it.  I got in a great ride, and I made a new friend.  And the scenery was absolutely fantastic.  At one point, we were on a ridge up high, looking down into a valley of trees and I said it felt a little like being on top of the world.  (Cue the Carpenter’s song…sorry, it’s stuck in my head too)  So, my day went in a completely different direction from what I expected.  But, that’s not unusual.  Just like Forrest said, Ya never really know what you’re gonna get.

When I got home, Farrell and Nicole were texting me about what aid station to sign up for in Arizona so we can all work together.  I’m not sure what supernatural force took over to temporarily eliminate my excessive fear at the thought of a full Ironman, but somehow I managed to sign up.  Nicole and I agreed that as scary as this is, it just feels right.

Like I told Farrell this morning, I don’t have a clue how any of this is going to come together.  But when do we ever know how things are going to come together?  Even the stuff we think we have figured out doesn’t always go the way we plan, but ultimately things just have a way of working out.  And here’s what I do know…I know that I love an adventure.  I know that I can tackle a challenge.  And I know that I’ve got a story to tell in all this.  My life is my story.  And I’m gonna keep telling it by living out loud. After all, when has anyone ever known me to be quiet?

Let the adventure begin…

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Speedwork, Smiles and Sweaty Hugs

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Today was a unique experience in my racing career. I went to a race that I was not competing in.  I was there purely to provide a cheering squad.  And I say squad because I dragged my 3 kiddos out to the course with me.  Granted I bribed them with Dunkin Donuts along the way, but the donuts had long since worn off by the time everyone crossed the finish line.

There was a Triathlon that about 25 of my friends competed in about an hour outside of St. Louis this morning.  Although this would have been great prep for the 70.3 I am about to embark upon in 3 short weeks (Oh dear Lord is it really that close? Please be wrong, please be wrong, please be wrong…crap. No, it’s really that close.  Deep breath…)  Anyway, I was saying, today’s event would have been a great practice race for Racine, but since I had my kids this weekend, I didn’t sign up.

On Thursday at Speedwork, a bunch of peeps were talking about it and I considered for approximately half a second that it might not be too late for me to sign up and I could just have my friend Chad’s daughter, Jasmine, watch my kiddos.  But ultimately, I decided I wouldn’t have the time I needed to mentally prepare, in order to have a decent race.  So I bagged the notion of trying to compete, and settled on being at the finish line to cheer everyone in.  As it turned out, THAT was a fantastic idea.

You see, on Thursday, I was having an awful day.  I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and proceeded to stay there for most of the day.  I didn’t actually stay in bed, I just stayed in my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mood. Even coffee didn’t help.  Neither did cleaning.  Lindsey quirk #7 (I think I’m on 7)…usually cleaning the whole house top to bottom can burn off my negative energy.  It didn’t that day.  The reason for my bad mood really isn’t important, but I continued to be Little Miss Crabby Pants. That is, until I got to hang out with some of my running buds at Shalini’s neighborhood pool for a bit. The kids played while we sat, and I vented, and we laughed.  Then I went off to Speedwork at the Marquette High School track and really let loose with the emotions to run it out.  Nothing makes for some really good speed like a little anger.  After running myself to the point of dripping with sweat during a 400m, 800m, 1200m, 1200m, 800m, 400m pyramid workout, I seemed to be a little better.  Having my kiddos out at the track was a blast, too.  And then we all went off to Dewey’s with the whole crew for some pizza.  We ended up with such a huge group that we needed one giant table and a corner booth.  We pretty much closed down the joint.  As I sat there eating pizza, with Silas snuggled on my lap while my other two played with Chad’s kids, Dennis and I were talking about the importance of the running community and sharing that with my kids.  Showing them that working out and being healthy is fun.  Not just because exercise is good for the body, but also celebrating that with good people is good for the heart.

And that’s when it hit me.  I’ve been enjoying showing my kids what it is that I love so much.  And even more, I’ve been enjoying merging my kids with my community.  So I decided I would take the cheering section on a field trip out to Innsbrook to support my friends in their athletic endeavor.

On the way out to the course this morning, we had the windows down and the radio turned up.  It was a beautiful day, sunny skies with some puffy white clouds, a nice breeze and high in the low 70’s.  Perfect race day weather.  I kept saying, “Next year I am totally signing up for this race”.  Which likely means it will either be pouring rain or a heat index of 105.  So, we were cruising along, singing with Christiana Aguilera, and suddenly Ally asks, “Mom, why are so many songs on the radio about dating or being in love?  They are almost all about girls and boys.”  I said, “You’re right, Al.  I guess it’s because people write music about their life experiences.  And so many life experiences involve different relationships.  Some that grow, some that end, some that last forever, there are so many kinds of relationships and they’re always changing.  People sing songs about that because the listeners can relate to them. “

Eventually, we made it to the course, which was interesting, seeing that I am completely navigationally challenged.  I pulled over to ask a police officer for directions and he started to ask if I knew where some landmark was, then stopped mid –sentence and said, “Wait, you’re not from around here, are you?”  Ummm, no.  Once we got parked, we had to hike over to the Finish Line.  All 4 of us, single file, trying to avoid being run over by cars and cyclists.  We walked up to the Finish and no more than 30 seconds later, I saw my friend Katherine cross the line.  About a minute later, she was followed by Nick.  Despite my direction mishaps, we made it just in time.  Shortly after that, we located my friend Dan and we all watched a straight on view of the Finish to see everyone coming in and our cheering section continued to grow as members of our training group finished.  It was a steady stream for the next hour and a half of so many friends.   Fellow and former Fleet Feet-ers, social runners, customers, training pals from swimming, Ladies from the Fit and Fab group…they just kept coming.  It was amazing.  I yelled, I cheered, I high fived and fist bumped.  I got several sweaty hugs.  And I wouldn’t take back a single one of them.

I watched my friends crash through their own personal obstacles, conquer their fears, bust down old PR’s.  I saw some take home medals and some were just glad to cross the line still standing and with a smile on their face.

Karen’s finish made a lasting impression because as she stood there talking to us just seconds after finishing, she had tears in her eyes as she said, “I did it”.  Karen, like me, was not a swimmer, but she learned and she got through the open water swim and was so proud of herself that she cried…happy tears of course.  Personally, I almost always cry when I cross the finish line.  Maybe that’s another Lindsey quirk.

Unfortunately, I missed Kris coming across the line because Silas decided he had to go to the port-o-potty and it had to be right that second.  Then he proceeded to check each one and declared, “They’re all flooded!”  To which I replied, “Welcome to my World, Kid. They’re port-o-potties!  Just pick one!”

Tracy made my day when she said she was disappointed to find out I wasn’t competing today.  It’s ok, Tracy and I will have our shot together in Wisconsin in 21 more days.  Tracy also said the best part was that she just felt positive the whole way.  That’s awesome.  I’m gonna need some of that in Racine!

Every few minutes someone else came down the shoot.  AJ and Rickster crossed at the same time.  Roberto, Chad, Steve, Erin.  I didn’t have any idea that Teri and Kristen were going to be there.  Tony, Nikki, Chris.  A couple friends did the sprint distance, so I never saw Jenn on the course, but I ran into Sarah just as I was heading out with the kids.  Sarah placed 3rd today and had a huge 7 minute PR after 5 years off…she did all that with a defibulator.  Incredible.

As the kids and I followed Tony’s little red mini Cooper carrying him, Erin, Nikki and all of their bikes, all of us caravanning back to Erin’s parent’s house for brunch, I heard another song come on the radio and these words struck me…

“We come into this world unknown
But know that we are not alone
They try and knock us down
But change is coming, it’s our time now

Hey… everybody loses it,
Everybody wants to throw it all away sometimes
And hey… yeah I know what you’re going through
Don’t let it get the best of you, you’ll make it out alive”

This week begins the final big push to Racine.  I’ve got to get in some good swims and long rides and get my body more used to the feeling of running after getting off the bike. It’s going to be hard, but as we always say, “It’s supposed to be hard.  If it was easy, everyone would do it.”  After today, watching my friends, my community, my peeps, I know that I can do this, because I’m going to have so many of them right there with me when I do.  Life experiences.  Relationships.  Getting knocked down and getting back up again.  Because no matter where you are on your journey, someone else has been there and it’s your community, your cheering section, your friends, that will always get you through.

So proud of these peeps!  Even more proud to call them my friends.

So proud of these peeps! Even more proud to call them my friends.

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Find Your Strong

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Saucony did an advertising campaign recently called Find Your Strong.  If I could have had a theme to the past week, I think that pretty much covers it.

Last week I was feeling pretty discouraged about my training for Racine and just my abilities in general.  After I blogged my pity party the other night, I decided it was time to put on my big girl panties and get to work.  So on Thursday afternoon when I left FLEET FEET, I went off to Lake St. Louis to meet up with Farrell for a little open water swim.  I got to see her new house, which is awesome.  But we spent a little too much time chatting and didn’t end up with a ton of time to swim.   We walked over to the beach and jumped in for a quick 1000 meters (I supposed quick is a relative term).  It wasn’t much, but considering that was the first time I’ve been in that lake since my first and only triathlon last August, it was somewhat monumental.  I swam 500m out and then back again in the open water, freestyle the whole way, practiced sighting and felt great.  I acknowledged how far I’ve come in less than a year and that alone was enough to restore my confidence in my upcoming attempt at 70.3.  After that swim, I got in a short 40 minute bike ride, before getting over to the Marquette High School track to be the guest leader for Thursday night Speedwork.  Cole, who usually leads, had been given concert tickets for his birthday from his girlfriend and had asked me several weeks ago to fill in.  I didn’t get to run too much of the workout with the group, but I got in a couple of slow, rather painful (my hip is still sketchy) laps around the track.  So, all in all, it was a successful day since it involved swim, bike and run.  Sort of.

Thursday morning was tough though.  As I dropped my kiddos off at their camp, I said goodbye to them until I see them again on Tuesday.  5 days straight without my babies.  Ally and I got each of the boys settled in their rooms and then we began the trek up the stairs.  She started walking slower, I could tell it was coming.  As we got in sight of her group, she threw her arms around me and started sobbing.  “I don’t want to be away from you for 5 days, Mom.  It’s too long.  I miss you so much!” she cried.  I hugged her and pulled her to the bench along the wall of the hallway.  I held her for a few minutes and reassured her that she’d have a great time at the water park with her cousins, the time would fly and we’d be back together before she knew it.  I asked if there was anything I could do to help make it easier and we agreed on a 7pm phone call Friday night.  Ultimately, I wrestled free of my baby girl’s grip and headed back down the stairs.  As soon as my back was to her, my own tears began to fall.  You see, sometimes we put on a brave face and we stay strong only because we have to, in order to help someone else feel strong.

When the kids are with their dad, I usually fill the time pretty well.  Thursday was packed with activities.  Friday I worked most of the day, then went down to Forest Park, did a couple loops on my bike, and just as I was transitioning to run, Diana showed up.  We did one loop around the park before heading back to the rooftop of her apartment building for some sunset wine and sushi.  During which, I made a call to my Ally-girl, as promised.

Saturday morning, I was up at the crack of dawn to head out to Newtown to meet up with Kris for a swim/bike.  I got in two whole laps for a whopping total of a MILE of open water swimming, no stopping, all freestyle!  Holy Schnikes I’m making progress!  We followed that up with about 15 miles on the bike before Kris and I both had to hit the road.  I grabbed coffee and food on my way to work, where I jumped in the shower. I am so grateful for this particular amenity of my job, though probably not as grateful as my co-workers, considering that as I stood in Starbucks wondering why it smelled like a fishy lake, I ultimately realized it was my own stench.  Gross.  Anyway, I fit some folks for running shoes on Saturday afternoon and then did a quick change into a little black dress to head out to dinner with a group of friends, during which I had to respond to several  “I miss you” texts from Ally.

On Saturday evening I came to the realization that I have officially become “That Triathlete Girl” who has her bike locked to the bike rack and a bike pump, helmet, cycling shoes, wetsuit, towel, swim cap, goggles, running gear and evening out clothes all in the back of my car at any given time.  Always prepared to squeeze in one form of recreation or another whenever I can.  But I digress…

This morning I was planning to cycle.  Well, it didn’t happen, for a myriad of reasons.  I had some other stuff to tend to before going off to work, which involved sending an email I didn’t really want to send but I knew it needed to happen.  After work, I was hoping to get in a long run in the rain which probably would have been good for my head and my heart, which are very obviously not on the same page these days.  The heart wants what it wants, even though the head sometimes knows better.  Or maybe the head just thinks it knows better.  I’m still not really sure.  At any rate, the lightening  extravaganza that was on display about the time I rolled up to Creve Coeur Lake, quickly put an end to the idea of my rain run.  So, I went with Plan B instead, I picked up Thai food and went to hang out with Farrell.  I needed some Linds time.

So, what’s the moral here?  Well, sometimes we have to do things we don’t particularly want to do in an effort to be strong for ourselves or someone else.  Sometimes we have to find our strong.  Sometimes it doesn’t look the way we thought it would.  Sometimes we find confidence in that.  Sometimes it means we have to let go of something.  And sometimes, it just plain breaks our hearts.  But when it comes down to it, as this weekend comes to a close, I’m proud of me for finding my strong when I needed to.  Sometimes being strong means facing a fear, sometimes it means pushing ourselves through it and sometimes it means making ourselves vulnerable.  I believe it was Nelson Mandela who said something to the effect of, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave (person) is not (one) who does not feel afraid, but (one) who conquers that fear.”  I think he was saying, Be Brave…Go find your strong.

Yesterday morning as I drove out to Newtown, the sun was shining, but I had my wipers going because it was also raining at the same time.  I thought, This is so odd.  And then in my rear-view mirror, I saw a rainbow.  But isn’t that just so representative of life…it can be sunny and raining all at the same time.  And sometimes you have to look behind you, in order to see the rainbow.

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear...

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear…

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The Cranberry Conundrum

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Disclaimer:  I am a runner.  Runners are gross.  We talk about things like poop.  If you have a weak stomach, I recommend that you not read this particular post.  However, if you feel so inclined to read about my bodily functions, I guarantee you will be rewarded with laughter that may make you fall on the floor.

Stop now or read on. It’s your choice. You’ve been warned.

It’s appropriate that in a couple days I will join my Ragnar team “Hot Mess” for our highly anticipated relay from Madison to Chicago this weekend, because hot mess accurately describes me as I will be portrayed in this post.  On Sunday, I met up with my Hot Mess teammate, Shane, at Forest Park for a 6 mile run.  On Monday, I planned to do a brick for my Half-Ironman training.  I was hoping to ride at least 25 miles and then run as much as I could before I had to get showered and in to work.

When I woke up Monday morning, I was feeling a little iffy, so I slept a bit longer.  And later, while I ate my bagel with peanut butter, I grabbed some cranberry pills to alleviate what I suspected to be a UTI that was causing my discomfort.  I finally managed to get out on the bike and got in my 25 miles.  I was feeling great!  No flats, no wipeouts.  Awesome.

I dropped off my bike at home, did a quick change into my running gear and despite the fact that I know better, I ate my Honey Stinger Cherry-cola flavored Chews during the transition.  I know, I know…we’re always supposed to take nutritionals at the end of the bike so that our bodies have time to adjust to a new activity before we add that stress.  For whatever reason, I thought I was fine.  And I quickly set off on my run.  A mile in, I couldn’t believe I was feeling so good and holding near marathon pace.  And then, on the paved trails of Wildwood, disaster struck.  My stomach started to cramp.  I figured that’s normal with a brick, especially since I made the mistake of the transitional nutritional.  So I forced myself to suck it up and keep going, despite my slightly slowed pace.

I managed to get to the intersection of Manchester and 109, which would give me almost exactly 5 miles as an out and back.  Perfect.  I began the 2.5 miles back to the house…my stomach pain increasing, my pace slowing, my sanity wavering.  I started to question how I would be able to accomplish 70.3 if I couldn’t even manage a 5 mile run after a 25 mile bike ride.  I didn’t even swim first!  GAH!

Fortunately, I had water, I continued to hydrate.  I remember seeing a couple of Wildwood police cars communing in a neighborhood and since I was beginning to get concerned about getting to work on time, I contemplated asking them to drive me home.  I thought to myself, “Oh seriously, Lindsey, you are being dramatic.  Just finish the run.”

I made it to the Mobile station a mile from my house.  I stopped for more water.  More to have a reason to walk for a moment than an actual need for more water, but the ice tasted good.  I briefly considered going to the bathroom at Mobile, but decided I could make it home to the comfort of my own commode.

I started that last long mile.  I ran, or perhaps shuffled is a better word, past the neighborhood clubhouse where the pool was starting to fill up with moms and kids and the Lake Chesterfield retirees.  Stop?  Yes. No.  What to do?  I can make it.  I just want to be home.  I walked.  I tried to run.  I hunched over in fetal position.  I thought about crawling.  Any runner who has ever experienced the desperation of seeking a bathroom, a port-o-potty, a bush, anything, knows exactly how much I wanted to cry right there on the sidewalk.  I usually run up the hill to my street, rather than taking the path by the lake to my back door, but this time I just needed the shortest possible route.  I could see my house.  Almost there.  Almost. Almost…

Big Sigh.

So close.  And yet, so far away.  I will not go into all the details of how it went down, but sadly, it went down.  Oh, yes, it happened.  Every runner’s worst fear.

I managed to get myself showered and I got to work right at the stroke of 4.  I was shoving any food I could find in my face.  I was starving.  I had a Gu Brew Recovery drink.  I wanted to lay down and die, but since it was only me and Katrina closing the store, I pulled it together for the massive rush of Chesterfieldians that all conspired to descend upon FLEET FEET in the last hours of the day.  It was the Lindsey and Katrina show as we jogged through the store supplying customers with all they needed for their running endeavors, while providing entertainment at the same time, as the line grew increasingly longer.  I’m pretty sure we did about half the store’s business in that last hour of the day.  We were spectacular.

I came home and crashed.  I stopped at Dierberg’s on the way for some dinner.  Then I spent the rest of the night on my couch, drinking Gatorade and watching Desiree decide who stays and who goes.

And now you get the punch line to the story.  This evening, as I was cleaning up the dinner dishes, I saw the cranberry pills sitting on the counter and popped a few more out of the package.  As I looked for my water bottle to take them, I glanced at the pink pills in my palm.  Wait a second…something isn’t right.  I grabbed the package.  Flipped it over.  And saw the words…Women’s Laxative.

OMG.  No way did I actually do that.  Before a 25 mile bike ride and a 5 mile run, I took not one, not two but THREE laxatives.  I don’t even know why I had those in my house, because let’s face it, I’m a runner who drinks a lot of coffee, I NEVER need them.

After my disbelief wore off at the sheer misery I had caused myself, I found myself experiencing jubilance in the realization that I might actually be able to make it through 70.3 without dying. I started laughing at myself.  I started laughing so hard that if I wasn’t completely dehydrated, I would probably have cried actual tears.  The laughter made up for the severe pain I was in only 24 hours ago.  Laughter has a way of doing that.

And after all, if you can’t laugh at yourself, what can ya do?

Can you tell the difference?  I guarantee I will never confuse these ever again!

Can you tell the difference? I guarantee I will never confuse these ever again!

 

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Merging Worlds

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It’s been an interesting week here in the RRG household.  It was the first week with the kids off school for summer vacation and we’ve been back and forth from sun to storms enough to make your head spin.  We had a grand total of about 2 hours of pool time.  And seriously, the other day when I took Ethan out on the lake in the kayak it was a perfect blue sky as we departed the shore, but within 15 minutes we were hauling butt back to the house because that previously perfect sky opened up with a total deluge.  By the time we had secured the kayak back in the garage, the sun was out again.  I can’t keep up with the storm fronts that keep passing through.  All things considered though, I’m feeling blessed again today after more tornadoes blew through last night and the only post storm cleanup I had to tend to was the repositioning of some patio furniture.

So, needless to say, it’s been challenging to train for a half Ironman with all of that going on.  At least I got in a round of kayaking with each of the boys.  And some yoga.  And boxing.  Finally by, Thursday I dragged all the kids out to the Marquette HS track for some FLEET FEET speed work.

I’ve mentioned before that as a single mom, I sometimes feel a little bit bi-polar, going from being Lindsey the athlete, to Mom, to Lindsey the employee, etc.  I can’t always keep track of which hat I’m supposed to wear next.  A few weeks back, my friend Dan suggested that I try to merge my worlds.  I’m still trying to figure out how exactly to do that.  Thursday night speed work seemed like a great opportunity to start trying.  The Thursday night summer crowd is a lot of the same people that I have the pleasure of hanging out with when I lead the social run during the non-summer months.  And since everything is centrally located at the track, I don’t have to worry about where my kids are because they can just hang out on the field, or even run around the track with us.

So, on Thursday, we introduced this idea.  Which was needed.  I was desperately in need of a solid workout.  Not that 800 repeats are a particular favorite of mine, but it needed to happen.  I had mentioned to Silas that he could bring his spray bottle and use it to cool off the runners.  And despite the fact that the skies opened up and dumped on us just as we were pulling out of the garage, he brought the spray bottle anyway.  Ally wondered why we were going when it was pouring down rain, but in true Midwestern fashion, the skies had cleared and the sun was out by the time we toed the line for our first 800 meters.  I don’t envy the job of the meteorologists in the greater St. Louis area these days.

I got in about a mile warm up with Nick and Diana.  We caught up from the weekend, discussed Diana’s vegan oatmeal cookies that she had consumed more than the recommended amount of in the hour before running really fast, laughed about dumb things people do when they’ve had too much to drink and we made a point to locate the nearest bathroom.  As runners, this is always necessary to know.  Always.  Especially when you punch it up a notch with speedwork.

The workout was 6 x 800 meters.  We all had our goal pace.  And Cole would reset the clock every 7 minutes.  Run faster and you get more time to rest.  This workout is not particularly fun, so Diana and I debated our pace.  We both agreed on “non-puking pace”.  At the end of the day, I was pretty happy with the fact that I held my pace for each of the 800’s, targeting a 3:30 marathon in the fall.  And I didn’t puke.  Bonus!  Perhaps I didn’t push quite hard enough, but considering how long it’s been since I’ve done an actual, real, true track workout, it was important to just get back to it.  It was fun to see Ethan sitting in the bleachers hanging with the other boys as I caught my breath and rehydrated with my running mates in between sets.   And I loved seeing Silas spraying everyone and smiling as I came around the track each time.  Ally had opted to stay in the car with her phone, to stay dry.  She is 10, going on 17.

After the main workout, Nick and Diana and I ran about another mile to cool down.  Even Silas joined us for a lap or two, in his swimsuit and flip-flops.  I topped out at about 5 miles for the day, so I was glad I had dragged the kids out of the house.  And just when the kids were about to complain about how long we had been there, I asked Ally, “Do you want to go to Dewey’s with everyone?” and a huge grin broke across her face.  She is her mother’s daughter, pizza is a favorite.

As we sat at the table, Serena brought up my blog, wondering what I would have to say about that workout.  I said, this blog would read, “Tonight we ran 800’s.  I was pretty much hating life.  The End”

BUT…since I’m Rambling Runner Girl, we all know I’m a lot more wordy than that.  And even though speed work hurts, I was definitely not hating life as I looked around at my kids to my right and my friends to my left.

It was a different experience having my kiddos at Dewey’s with the speedwork crew.  But it was fun.  It was good.  Lindsey is merging her worlds.  Perhaps this bi-polar single mom thing is manageable without meds.  Perhaps.  As long as I continue to get a steady dose of endorphins.

Look closely and you can see Silas spraying the runners as they go by

Look closely and you can see Silas spraying the runners as they go by

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