Category Archives: Uncategorized

The One About the Dove Commercial

The other night after social run when we were hanging out at East Coast Pizza, a bunch of us were talking about the various videos that are floating around right now.  Like “How animals eat” and the video of the cat in a shark costume riding a Room-ba and chasing a baby duck.  They are completely random and ridiculous, but guaranteed to make you laugh.  Then we started talking about the Dove commercial and Caleb said, “Linds, you should write a blog about that.” Oh sure, no pressure or anything…

That’s why it was so crazy last night in church, with Caleb sitting about 10 yards away from me, they showed part of the Dove video.

Have you seen this video that I’m referring to?  If not, you can watch it here…

Sorry, I’m not technologically inclined enough to do it the cool way where you can camouflage the link.

So, this morning I ran my last long run before I leave for Vancouver on Friday.  I got in a solid 10 miler and I felt great. Everything about my run was perfect. The weather was exactly what I’m hoping for in Canada next Sunday.  50+ degrees and overcast.  I could do without the chilly wind that was blowing this morning, but as long as it’s at my back on at least the second half of the course, I’ll be happy.  While I was running today, it felt so easy that I wasn’t really focused on running.  I did keep thinking about that Dove video.  For those of you who haven’t watched it yet, despite my attempt to make it easy for you by providing the link, I’ll summarize.  A woman walks in and sits on one side of a curtain; a man with a drafting board is on the other side.  He asks her to describe her physical features. He is a forensic artist so he proceeds to draw her description.  When she leaves, another person, who she had just met, comes in and describes her.  At the end she is presented with two drawings to depict how differently the world sees her from how she sees herself.  It provides this message for women, we typically don’t see all the beauty that the rest of the world sees in each of us.  Oh my…do I do this?  Probably.

While I was running today, I started thinking about how I would describe myself to someone in that situation.  Here’s what I came up with…

I have sort of medium length, very straight, blond hair.  My curly haired daughter always complains that she wishes she had gotten my straight hair.  The grass is always greener, right?  If you happen to catch me on a day that my hair is down, it’s likely the rare occasion that I have washed it.  Usually I’ve got it in braids, a pony, or a big mess on top of my head.  Frequently there is a visor involved.

I have blue eyes.  Not huge, not squinty, just average.  But I like that they’re blue, from my dad.

I guess I have kind of a heart shaped jaw line…whatever that means.  And I think my chin sticks out a little.

I’ve never particularly liked my nose, but I scrunch it up when I get nervous.  I never realized I did this until Faith pointed it out a while back. And I have a few freckles on my nose too.

People have always told me I have a great smile, just like my mom’s.  I think that’s right.  Even though I have a couple crooked teeth because  I was really bad about wearing my bottom retainer after I got my braces off in high school.  And it’s barely visible, but I have a small chip in my top right big tooth.  It’s a story from college that we’ll save for another day.  Sometimes I bite my bottom lip when I’m focused.

I have a lot of lines on my face.  The lines on my forehead show that that I’ve lived a lot in my years.  And I’ve had my share of trials.  The lines around my eyes crease when I smile, which is often.  And I have plenty of laugh lines around my mouth because, I think anyone who knows me will agree, I do love to laugh.

That’s about it.  That’s my face.

So, then I started wondering, what do other people see when they look at me?  I know what I want people to see.  I want people to see more than just my face.  I want people to see my heart. Because that’s where my beauty is.  I’m a writer, not an artist, so don’t make fun of me, but here’s a sketch as I see me…

That’s my heart. You’ll see that Jesus is at the center of it and all I really want to do in life is love people in a way that reflects His love for me.  Other things that fill my heart are my kiddos, my family, laughing with my friends.  Running, writing, traveling, exploring.  My heart is surrounded by good people, so many good people.  Which is exactly how my dad told me to go through life, being surrounded by good people.

That’s pretty much it.  That’s me.  That’s Rambling Runner Girl. In a nutshell.

That’s the thing that Dove’s video can’t capture.  The beauty on the outside doesn’t really show the beauty on the inside.  There’s so much more to each and every one of us.

I’ve said before that running makes me feel beautiful.  I’m not really sure why that is, especially since I’m all sweaty and not particularly graceful.  But I think it has something to do with an outpouring of my heart.  I am so thankful that I have a body that is capable of all these amazing things, and to waste it, would just be sad.  So, I won’t waste it.  I’ll be grateful.  And I’ll go to Vancouver next weekend with an attitude of gratitude and run my big ol’ heart out.  I might meet the goals I’ve set for myself, or I might not.  But I’m going to run 26.2 which is an accomplishment all by itself.  I love running.  I love running marathons.  Because that reminds me of all the feelings I have…happiness, nervousness, excitement, fear, freedom, pain, strength to endure it, elation.  All those feelings make me feel truly alive. And is there anything more beautiful than being alive and loving life?  I don’t think so.

18 Miles in a Blizzard

It’s official.  I’m crazy.  I mean like certifiably insane crazy.  I just ran 18 miles in the snow.  For anyone reading this outside the Greater St. Louis area, I might need to clarify what I mean by snow.  It’s March 24th, right?  And we are having the blizzard of the year!  I’m quite sure we are breaking records with this. For a place that claims that they don’t need to be prepared because they never get snow (which is ridiculously incorrect), we are in the midst of an estimated foot of snow.  It started at about 6 am today and is expected to continue until 6 am tomorrow.  School has already been cancelled.  Is that even possible with April a week away?  I guess so because we are having our own 2013 version of Snow-mageddon.

So, if you happened to be out today, and saw any of the 25 people crazy enough to be out running in this mess, I was one of them.  At least 20 of the others are all friends of mine.  I’m glad to know I’m in good company in my craziness.

As weird as this will sound, I needed to get out there today.  Aside from the fact that I needed to do a long run for training purposes, I was feeling pulled in a million different directions this morning.  Emails, texts, phone calls…it seemed like everyone needed something from me and they all wanted it right at that moment.  I just didn’t have it in me to take care of everyone else’s requests.  I have a tendancy to allow myself and my feelings to get buried under the expectations of others, so I know when I start feeling buried, that’s when I need to take care of Lindsey.  I put away the laptop and tucked the phone into my spybelt (I didn’t plan to check it during my run, but in light of the weather, I figured it was best to have it with me).  I strapped on the Yaktrax and I set off into the blizzard.

I’m not gonna lie, that was a tough run, both physically and mentally.  I typically have some kind of weird mental block on 18 milers.  20’s I can whip out without a problem and even anything up to 16-17 isn’t too bad.  But I hate 18 miles.  I absolutely loathe that distance.  Today I set out with 18 in the back of my mind knowing that I should go that far, but not really sure if it would complete it.  I think I got so focused on beating the snow, that I actually forgot how much I hate 18 miles.  I finished in around 3 hours.  I’ve run 20 and 21 milers faster than that.  One of those 20 milers even involved rain, sleet and crazy wind.  Oddly, it was exactly 2 years ago today, if I remember correctly, when I was training for the Nashville full that never came to fuition.

The first 10 miles today were great.  It was actually quite beautiful running out Old Manchester, all snow covered and lovely.  The snow plows were being very considerate and trying not to attack me.  Mile 11 was tough, I started to curse running.  Mile 13 was great, I thought I would probably make it.  Mile 16 was hard, and slow, and painful and reeked of gasoline from snow blowers.  I finished Mile 17 right next to my street.  I could see my house, my nice warm comfy house.  I wanted to stop.  I wanted to say “Well, that’s a wrap, time to get warm and dry”.  It would have been so easy to just call it a day.  17 miles in a blizzard, that’s plenty, right?  But those are the moments that truly test our character.  What do we do when things are hard?  When we’re tired and weary, do we quit? Cheat? Give up?  Or do we push through the cold and the tired and the soaking wet shoes to press on towards the goal?  Do we fight through the pain to accomplish what we set out to do?  There is a reason I always wear a bracelet on my left wrist that simply reads “Persevere”.  It reminds me that I can, and I will, in any situation.

At approximately 17.36 miles, a man in his driveway stopped shoveling for a moment and watched me as I passed.  I paused my music long enough to hear him say, “Now that’s dedication”.  Smiling, I responded, “Marathon training doesn’t stop for the snow!”  He smiled.

Seriously, marathon training doesn’t stop for the snow.  Life doesn’t stop for the snow.  Sure it slows down and school gets cancelled, but it doesn’t stop.  And neither should we.  Sometimes it’s a long, lonely, snowy, slushy, challenging road, but every once in a while, when you need it most, someone shows up with a word of encouragement and a smile that will pull you through that last half mile.

Now who wants to come over and shovel the foot of snow in my driveway so I don’t have to?  Any takers?  Anyone…?

View of the blizzard from my porch.  No doubt it's beautiful.  But brutal to run in.

View of the blizzard from my porch. No doubt it’s beautiful. But brutal to run in.

Spring Break, Part II

We’re home.   Safe and sound.  Nothing like having your first vacation as a single mom start off with not being able to check into the hotel because your credit card has been cancelled thanks to some joker who tried to commit fraud at a Target in Brooklyn.  Super (Insert maximum sarcastic tone here).  After a few phone calls, a bit of stress and the threat of tears (mine), we were good to go.  Although, I could have done without the additional headache of a stalled Pathfinder after loading up the car at check-out. Someone please tell me it’s going to get smoother from here.  But the kids had a blast and I survived, so I’m gonna call it a success.

While I was away, I received the following message from my friend and SMR teammate, Ken.  By the way, this is the guy I’ve had a conversation with while in adjoining port-o-johns.  Now that’s bonding!   Anyway, his message:

“Spring break provides a chance to bond with our kids in ways that our normal routines do not allow. As for working out, do what you can. You suffer from the same problem I do, you believe that going at life at 100% is the only way to go at it. Unfortunately our muscle fibers need to heal or we end up in the gray zone with no improvement. So take these days as a chance to let the muscle fibers heal up while your workouts are easier.”

He’s exactly right.  And that’s exactly what I did.  My workouts were anywhere from minimal to non-existent.  However, my heart fibers were what got truly stretched.

My workouts included things like practicing the fine art of “car dancing” and climbing many levels of stairs to reach the top of the water slide.  Although, I have to admit, it wasn’t just for the stair climb workout that I carted a giant intertube up those stairs so many times, I’m kind of a big kid like that.

I have to give my kids huge props.  They were champs.  They humored their mom’s hairbrained idea to go for a hike when it was only registering 18 degrees out.  Seriously, isn’t this supposed to be SPRING break?!  What’s with the excessively low temps?!  But, we did it.  We saw deer, climbed trees, caught some fantastic views and had ourselves a good ol’ time…at least until the whining of “I’m hungry” and “I can’t feel my feet” set in.  Just as Ken said, I go at life at 100%, so as tough as it was for me to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to complete all the trails I wanted to, I needed to do what was best for my kiddos and know when to say when.

I’d have to say, though, that the best workout of the week award goes to the laughter Silas provided as he did his spontaneous poolside dance party to “Moves Like Jagger”.  That kid does have some sweet moves and he had me laughing long and hard.  There is no better way to burn a few calories and tighten up the abs than laughing.

Like I said, my heart fibers got stretched more than any other part of me this week.  Ally and I doing multiple slide runs together, Ethan spotting more deer than anyone and his declaration that “This hike is AWESOME” and riding the lazy river with Silas; those are all things I will hold in my heart forever.  Even long after I’ve forgotten various tempo runs and speed workouts…well, ok, I don’t cherish speed work at all.

But here was the part that really got me.  As an added bonus, we had access to an indoor amusement park as well so my kids got to ride the likes of the Growler and the Tilt-a-whirl to their hearts’ content (and to their mom’s nausea!  I love rollercoasters, but the spinning, Oh, the incessant spinning…).  The first night Silas kept dragging me onto rides because he needed me there.  By the end of the last night, he was doing rides by himself.  As I watched my three sweethearts climb onto the Growler together, (a huge blessing for the fighting to subside for a brief and beautiful window) I was so amazed by my little man’s courage.  He’s not a baby anymore.

As a parent, it’s my responsibility to teach my kids how to spread their wings and learn how to fly.  But who knew that at the same time I’m teaching them, I would be re-learning how to do that myself?

One of our family rituals is at dinner time we go around the table and each say our best and worst thing of the day.  We hadn’t done that during this trip, until lunch yesterday at Nonie’s Cafe.  The kids said their “bests” were everything from hiking, the wave pool, going into Chicago to see friends, the ropes course, the various rides, Shedd Aquarium, the water slides.  They basically made a list of everything we had done and called it the best.  But I have to agree with them.  My best was…all of it.  And my worst was…umm, yeah, I don’t really have a worst.

Well, I guess I probably coulda done without the whole credit card debacle.

My cuties at Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL

My cuties at Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL

Spring Break

My kids are on Spring Break this week.  That means, the whole week, 3 kids, every day, no school, no camps, no breaks.  How in the world is a mom supposed to get a workout in with that going on?

With a full marathon, a half Ironman, 2 relays and a bunch of other races coming up, I can’t exactly take the whole week of Spring Break off from working out.  Some days, you’ve just got to improvise.  Today that was necessary.  Silas has been begging me to go back to The Boxing Gym.  Today he got his wish.  I’m a regular at the 10:30 am Monday class, and today was no exception.  David is always saying to bring the kids in, so today I did…the whole crew.

Ally spent the majority of her time playing on her iPhone.  Yes, ridiculously, my 10 year old daughter has a better phone than I do.  Anyone who has ever fallen victim to receiving random old texts from me when I restart my phone knows exactly what I’m talking about when I say my smart phone isn’t really that smart.

However, the boys were incredibly enthusiastic about the whole experience.  As soon as we got there, Silas put some gloves on and went to town.  Ethan put down the iPad soon thereafter and put on some gloves of his own.  Ethan was particularly good at the jab/cross/4 hooks combo.  Who knew it would turn into a family workout?

I wouldn’t say it was exactly strenuous, especially since the attention span of my boys only lasted about half of the 30 minute class, and that’s being generous.  With 10 minutes left to go, Silas was going, “Mom, mom, mom, MOM!”  Dude, chill.  No, I am not going to stop doing deadlifts to go turn on the treadmill for you.  Now burpees, that might be another story…

So, at least I got a pseudo workout in.  By the end, I had a pretty good sweat going.  And I got to model for my kids the importance of exercise in one’s daily routine.  I wouldn’t say that I do all things well as a parent, sometimes I cave to a tantrum, and sometimes I get overly mad about things that really aren’t that big a deal, but if there is one thing I can say about myself as a mom…I know how to make exercise fun.  Childhood obesity is an epidemic and if I can protect my kids from that, Lord knows I’ll do what I can.  And considering the sweet tooth that Silas inherited from me, it might take more effort than just offering green beans at the dinner table on a regular basis.

I was planning to take the kiddos to Florida this week to visit my mom (Woo-hoo, built in Granny-Nanny to entertain the kids while I go run!), but unfortunately, airfare costs kept that from happening. So, instead, I made a reservation at a lodge that is driveable, with an indoor water park…umm, that can provide exercise, right?  But the best part is that it’s located right next to a fantastic state park.  It may be cold, but rest assured, we’re going to bundle up and get out there to do some hiking and exploring!  The idea of spending 3 straight days at an indoor water park makes me seriously question my own sanity.  (Do you think I’m allowed to bring wine?)

All this to say, my workouts this week may be somewhat lacking in intensity, but they are guaranteed to provide lots of laughs, good memories, plenty of togetherness and probably a fair amount to blog about.  One week of lesser workouts isn’t going to make or break my upcoming races.  And I’m pretty sure that regardless of the outcome in Vancouver, I won’t likely look back and think, “Boy I really regret that week I spent with my kids”.  The best things in life are the experiences we have and the people who are with us.

So, away we will go to the water park.  I’m sure I’ll return a little more crazed than when I left, if that’s possible.  But hopefully my kids will be reminded that as much as I love running, and cycling, and boxing (I still can’t bring myself to add swimming to that list) I love my Ally and my Ethan and my Silas, way, way, WAY more.  And if you know me, that’s saying something! 😉

Ethan getting down to business with David at The Boxing Gym in Ballwin

Ethan getting down to business with David at The Boxing Gym in Ballwin

Silas was all smiles at boxing today

Silas was all smiles at boxing today



It’s Magic

It’s funny how workouts have a way of mimicking life.  We have good days and bad days; likewise, we have good workouts and bad workouts.  As I was on my way to the pool this morning, I got a text from my best friend, Britta.  She has finally entered the world of texting, it’s still rare, but it does happen on occasion.  You may recall a post I did about a month ago called Why I Run, which was a response to Britta asking that very question.  She was, at that point, considering signing up for the Chicago Marathon.  Well, here’s the update.  Despite’s epic fail the day registration opened and then later crashed, Britta managed by some miracle to clinch a place on that first day.  Last week, I was one of 36,000 runners who entered the lottery for the remaining 15,000 or so spots available.  I had slightly less than a 50/50 shot, but it was out of my hands.  This morning, I woke up to find the email that read, “Congratulations!  You have been selected to register for the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon”. Awesome.  I have the opportunity to run 26.2 miles with Britta in the city that cemented our friendship for life.  It just really doesn’t get any better than that.

So, anyway, back to the text Britta sent me this morning.  Here’s our conversation:

B: Just ran seven miles and felt like crap every step of the way.  I need more sleep…

B again: But that’s the first time I’ve felt yucky so that’s something.

RRG: It happens.  We all have a bad run once in a while.

B: Until two weeks ago, I haven’t run seven miles since college.  Again, I will take the positive little steps, literally.

RRG: Exactly! And on that note, I’m getting in the pool.  J

If you recall, Britta is the swimmer.  So it’s funny how we’ve taken up each other’s sport.  But the theme of this conversation is so true.  Some days, I go run and I feel fantastic.  Other days, I run and it’s fine, nothing special.  And still other days, I run and it’s like I would rather be rolling around in a pile of nails and shards of broken glass on a bed of hot coals.  Some days, we just don’t have it.  That’s not just running, that’s life.  No matter the amount of coffee or Midol or whatever I think I need, sometimes I just feel like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and I spend the whole day in a funk.  Those are the days, or the workouts, that you just have to power through so you can get to the end and say “I made it. And that’s good enough”.

Oddly, I jumped into the pool today and had the exact same experience.  After a brief warm-up, Andy asked me, “How’d that feel?”  I responded simply, “Stiff”.  I wasn’t feeling comfortable in the water.  I was tired.  My shoulder hurt.  Blah, blah, blah.  So, what do you do when you’re just not feeling it?  Well, you suck it up and you keep going.  I did some drills, that got me loosened up and I felt a little better.  Then Andy said, “Ok, it’s time to try swimming 500 meters without stopping, no breaks at the wall”.  Oy vey!  Unlike Britta not running 7 miles since college (I won’t date us here and say just how many years that’s been), I have never swam 500 m  without stopping, not ever in my life.  I’ve stayed afloat for that long, but never actually swam freestyle all the way.  It was go time!

If you had told me just 2 months ago, that I would swim 500 meters in approximately 12 minutes and feel like I could keep on going, I would have told you that you were batshit crazy!  (Sorry, I usually try to keep things G-rated…or PG at the most, but I needed to make a point)  Somewhere over the past 8 weeks, Lindsey learned how to SWIM.  But guess what?  If I would have bailed because of all the excuses I was conjuring up in my head, I wouldn’t have even known I could do that.  I needed to just get out of my head and stop over-thinking.  I’ve always had a tendency to over-think and over-analyze ev-er-y-thing, from workouts to life in general:  Why does my shoulder hurt? What if he doesn’t ever call?  Why didn’t so-and-so respond to that email? What will all those people think of me if I do my own thing instead of going along with the majority? (Someone please tell me I’m not the only one who does this) But let’s think about this, if there’s nothing we can do about it, why worry about it?!

Something Andy said to me in the pool today as I was struggling along, was, “Strive for consistency, expect anything BUT.”  That’s so true.  Consistency and pace are key!  Especially when we’re talking about going the distance. But we have to be prepared to roll with the punches and power through when we’re having a bad workout.  Fighting through when we’re just not feeling it is what makes us stronger.  Wouldn’t it be fantastic if life was always consistent, too?  Well, no, actually.  There is something to be said for breaking the status quo.  Sure it would be great if we could avoid the hurts and the heartaches (or the shoulder aches), but it’s the pain that makes us grow.  And if we didn’t feel the yucky stuff, we wouldn’t appreciate the good stuff so much.  The lows might be lower, but that makes the highs higher too.

I’ve already admitted to my reality TV addiction.  Last night I was watching The Biggest Loser (Yes, I watched The Bachelor finale, too) and Jillian said so many things that struck a major chord with me.  The best one was this, “Here’s the thing-you try and you fail, you try and you fail, but you know why you get up every day and try again?  For THIS moment.  This moment right here.  This is what you fight for.  And it doesn’t happen often, but when it does happen, it’s Magic.  And it’s worth it.”  Amen, Sister!

Something else Jillian said was, “It’s about a girl that lives the life SHE wants, who follows HER dreams and who does not hang her state of being on the outside world”.

We don’t get the magic moments every day, we may even go years without one. It’s taken a lot of hard work for me to become that girl who doesn’t hang her state of being on what anyone in this world sees.  But I am living the life I want and I am following MY dreams.  It’s Magic.  And it IS worth it!

RRG and B...this is approximately what we looked like the last time B ran 7 miles.  I tried to use effects to enhance the photo, not sure it really helped.

RRG and B…this is approximately what we looked like the last time B ran 7 miles. I tried to use effects to enhance the photo, not sure it really helped.


Finding Purpose in the Rain

The other day I saw one of those silly ecards on Facebook that was exactly perfect.  It read, “I don’t go crazy.  I am crazy.  I just go normal from time to time. Get it right.”  That pretty much describes every runner I know.  Otherwise, why would I have gladly gone out into a downpour this morning and run 17 miles?  I started at 9:34am. By 9:37, my braids were soaked, my shoes were squishy and there were streams of water pouring off both sides of my navy blue FLEET FEET hat.  By the time I finished I was reminiscent of the scene in the movie League of Their Own where the announcer says, “And then there’s Marla Hooch.  What a hitter.”  It wasn’t my most gloriously attractive moment, to say the least, but I got it done.

So, picture this: Linds J running 3 loops around Creve Coeur Lake in the driving rain.  Every once in a while I would tip my head toward the sky to let the rain fall on my face, I could feel myself smile, and I would close my eyes.  Lindsey quirk #5: Sometimes I try to run as long as I can with my eyes closed.  I find it a good form of release, and I especially like doing this on a long straight downhill.  I’m sure eventually I’m going to bite it.  Probably really hard.  But until the day comes when I go careening down the side of a hill, rolling through trees and brush, resulting in stitches and/or broken bones, I will likely continue this practice.  Anyway, I was out there to put in the miles all by my lonesome today, but weirdly, I was not the only one.  There were several other runners on the path and as we would pass each other, we exchanged that slight smile and knowing glance that says, “So you’re crazy too.”

And here’s the other thing, while I was out there getting after it, I had about 25 friends that were doing something even more ridiculous.  13 miles of trails in the rain at Cuivre River State Park for the race Quivering Quads.  From what I hear, it was a total muddy mess.  And I think that sounds absolutely, spectacularly awesome!  Like I said, as runners, we’re all crazy.

Runners, let’s face it, we’re a little bit cultish.  I mean that in a good way, of course.  Or as my non-runner friend, Ben, says, “Runners are all drinking the Kool-aid, but it’s more like a protein shake.”

Seriously, think about it.  Anytime a runner finds themself in a room full of mostly strangers, we still have a way of gravitating to other runners.  It starts out with an, “Oh, you run too? What’s your favorite flavor of Gu?”  Afterwards comes a brief assessment period to size each other up with questions like: How many marathons have you run?  Ever done an Ultra?  What’s your PR?

Eventually, you and your running acquaintance find yourselves huddled in the corner where the true bonding begins as you discuss things like stress fractures and where you were on the course the year they cancelled the Chicago marathon because it was so bloody hot and the water got lost.  By the time you’re being dragged out the door, you and your new bestie have become facebook friends, you’ve tweeted about this awesome kindred spirit you’ve just met and you have plans to run together next weekend.

But why do we do it?  Why do we willingly go out in weather worse than the postman would and put our bodies through such torture?  Well, we do it in the name of fun.  We do it for discipline. Sometimes we do it out of guilt, knowing how we’ll feel if we don’t.  We do it for bragging rights.  But we also do it for purpose.

At the end of my run today, I found a new friend hanging out in the pavilion at Creve Coeur.  As I stretched a very tight IT band, Ed and I started talking.  When he was younger his goal had been to break the 4 minute mile.  The closest he ever got was 4:08. Umm, yeah, he passed the sizing-up assessment with flying colors.  But not just because of his speed.  Now Ed has Stage 4 Colon Cancer with metastasis to the liver.  He’s had baseball sized tumors removed and ongoing chemo.  Just like my friend, Teri, who I’ve talked about before, he is continuing his athletic feats while fighting a battle for his life.  I have nothing but respect for these folks, especially as I think about how much easier it is for my healthy body to go run 17 miles.

And earlier this week, I made another new friend, who I fit with new running shoes at the store.  Douang recently lost her 22 month old child, who was diagnosed with Leukemia at only 6 weeks old.  I can’t imagine anything worse in life than the pain of that.  She said she took up running to find purpose and to just keep going.

We all have storms in life.  They all look different.  You never know what’s going to be thrown your way.  Running has been a constant in my life, but the storms have blown through.  Some were just a passing shower, and some have been more catastrophic.  Some have delivered me to a point where I wanted to just stop eating altogether; running gave me a reason to eat.  I knew I needed food to have enough energy.  If I didn’t eat, I couldn’t run.

Douang was right, running gives us purpose when we want to throw in the towel and quit.  Or when we don’t even know what we want or what the next step is.  Storms in life will come and go.  During the times that the rain falls hard we learn to appreciate, even more, the days when the sun is shining.

It’s funny.  As I sit here typing this, the sun is starting to come out after a LOT of rain.  Which is appropriate seeing as I am currently entering a season of life where it feels like the sun is shining after running at least 17 miles in the rain.  I know it’s going to storm again eventually, so in the meantime, I’ll keep running.  I’ll keep logging the miles in any kind of weather, just to stay prepared for whatever comes my way.  Running won’t save me, but it might just give me a reason to get out of bed on the rainy days.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, there is a pint of Coffee Heath Bar Crunch in my freezer that is calling my name.  I’m going to eat the whole flipping thing. And then lapse into a post 17-miler coma.

RRG after a very wet 17 miles.  Shirt says Running on Faith...because sometimes that's all you've got to go on.

RRG after a very wet 17 miles. Shirt says Running on Faith…because sometimes that’s all you’ve got to go on.

Stair Repeats and Blondie Bars

What’s worse than being stuck at home with a puking kid for two days?  Being stuck at home with a puking kid for two days and making the bad decision to bake.  Because when you’re stuck in a house  with just one other person most of the time, who happens to be managing only Gatorade and saltines, you find yourself eating the entire pan of Trader Joe’s Blondie Bars.  Ugh.

After 2 days of that, I was in serious need of a run.  Especially since my calves were still ridiculously tight from another bad choice I made earlier in the week.  On Monday, I went to boxing.  Then I decided to go for a run at the mud pit called Castlewood State Park.  Now, I love to run in the mud, but I only managed about 3 miles because the mud was more like clay that was clinging to my shoes making it feel like I was running with cinderblocks strapped to my feet.  So, I gave up that idea and decided to run the stairs.  I didn’t just run them once, or twice.  Not even 5 times.  I ran the Castlewood stairs 10 times.  Yeah, that’s right, I said TEN.  I’m not sure what got into me, maybe it was Kanye singing “N-now that that don’t kill me, can only make me stronger”.  Or maybe it was my determination to do even better this year on Leg 19 of the Smoky Mountain Relay in April (5.5 miles over a 2,500 foot incline on gravel in the pitch dark-Bring it!)  Whatever it was, it seemed like a good idea the first time up the stairs.  But by round 7, I couldn’t even really feel my legs.  By the time I got back to my car in the parking lot, my quads were shaking and I had a hard time removing my Cascadia’s from my feet.

I always say its two days after a tough workout that the pain is the worst.  So, here we are, it’s Wednesday, and my calves are on fire. I’m hydrated.  I tried foam rolling.  That was only minimally helpful.  I knew I needed to go for a run to stretch it out.  But after sitting around watching TV and eating Blondie Bars for 30some hours, I was severely lacking motivation and energy to get off the bar stool my butt had become glued to.  I needed to tap into another source.  Question: What is in perpetual motion and has the energy of a puppy on steroids?  Answer: My 7 year old.  So, after I picked the older kids up from school, I said, “Hey Ethan, you wanna go for a run around the lake with me?”  He said, yeah, sure, but could I wait 10 minutes for him to get ready.  Uh, yeah, cause I’m gonna need at least that long to get motivated to do this.  It’s only 1.25 miles around the little lake we live on.  It really shouldn’t be this challenging. I figured we’d go around twice, maybe three times.  So, we got ready, we went around the lake once, plus a little more, for a total of 1.59 miles.  We didn’t even run the whole thing because E kept getting a side cramp and needing to walk it off.  I don’t think either one of us broke a sweat.  I’m not sure I burned more than 15 calories.  And my calves are still killing me.

So, what’s the moral of this story?  I have absolutely no idea.  I guess it’s don’t run stairs repeats at Castlewood when you’re going to be stuck at home eating Blondie Bars for two days.

Man I can’t wait to get out there and log some miles tomorrow.  But I think I might stay away from hills for another day or so.  And I foresee see a big salad in my future.

Ethan and I after his first 5k in November 2012

Ethan and I after his first 5k in November 2012

A confession…

I am obsessed with movies.  All movies.  Comedies.  Classics.  Action.  Drama.  Musicals.  You name it.

My brother and I actually have a secret language.  We speak movie lines.  We do this so often that sometimes people who know us well will hear us talking and say, “What movie is that from?”  And one of us will respond, “It’s not.  I just said it.”  I can also speak this language with the rest of my immediate family, my cousins, other extended family members, and the occasional non-Jacobs clan foreigner.

Disclaimer: I will only say this once, and only once, if anyone attempts to make fun of me for what I am about to say, you are taking your life into your own hands…I will plead temporary insanity. But here’s my confession.  I have a secret addiction to sappy, cheesy girl movies.  Otherwise known as, chick flicks.  I don’t like to admit this because I’m concerned that the negative connotations associated with enjoying such movies, may tarnish my reputation as a badass.  But I’m about to quote a movie of this genre, so I figured I would just out myself already and be done with it.  So, there ya have it, I like sappy movies. The Notebook, Love Actually, The Holiday, Letters to Juliet, When Harry Met Sally, all of them.  If there’s an insanely hot, buff, young stud as the leading man, all the better.  Preferably the likes of Jude Law, Vince Vaughn or Ryan Gosling.  And Ladies, who’s with me in thinking that Taye Diggs really needs to do a nice romantic lead? One word…Yummy.  And yes, I cry during the bombing scene of Pearl Harbor and when the old people are laying in their bed while the water rises in Titanic.

So, anyway, the other night I was watching Eat, Pray, Love.  No one does cheesy girl movies better than Julia Roberts.  Am I right?  Well, in this scene of this particular flick, she was thinking about leaving an unhappy marriage.  She said, or rather, she was thinking… “The only thing more impossible than staying, was leaving.  I didn’t want to hurt anybody.  I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door and not stop running until I reached Greenland”.

I know that feeling.  There’s running.  And there’s running away from something.  I used one to do the other.  I ran my first marathon in 2001, and then I had three kids from February of 2003 to July of 2007.  I ran a half marathon in between each of my pregnancies to make sure I got my body back down to size and to feel good about myself.  Ethan was 4 1/2 months old when I turned 30 and I was determined to be wearing my skinny jeans for my birthday.  I did. I ran the Chicago Half the week before.  I’m still not even sure how I trained for that with an infant.  But it was after my youngest was born that my running took on a life of its own.  I was a busy mom of 3, not yet school age, kiddos.  It was my sanity to get to the gym every day, pass off my little ones and jump on a treadmill.  I ran my second marathon just after my 3rd baby’s first birthday and I didn’t slow down.  It became an obsession.  I worked in a run where ever I could.  But the ones I looked the most forward to where those long Saturday morning training runs.  The longer, the better.  I was like Forrest Gump, I just kept going.  I wanted to run and not stop until I reached Greenland.  At the time all of that was happening, I didn’t realize what was going on.  It’s taken some deep introspection (and a lot of therapy) to figure out what I was doing.   I wasn’t just running; I was running away.  Running was my attempt to get away from my life, a life I had lost control of.  Running was my escape.  My escape from a marriage that I didn’t know how to change, or I was too scared to change, because I had spent so much of my life running from the things that I didn’t know how to confront.

Leaving my marriage is without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, but I had to confront it.  There was no running from it.  I couldn’t just slip out the back door.  I had to stand strong and face it.  And now that I’ve learned how to face things, when I do run, I don’t feel like I’m running from something, I’m running TO something.  I’m running to accomplish a goal, running to get healthy, running to feel strong, running to embrace freedom.  Later in that scene of Eat, Pray, Love Julia says, “Ruin is a gift.  Ruin is the road to transformation.” My failed marriage left me feeling like my life was in ruin, but I guess now I run to continue my transformation.  I run to grow and to prove that transformation to myself.  Because I don’t need to prove anything to anybody else.

However, just to set the record straight (and to reclaim my rightful badass status), I can quote Tommy Boy in it’s entirety, I really wanted to name my youngest son Maximus after Russell Crowe’s Gladiator, my favorite Bond movie is Dr. No, and who doesn’t love Indiana Jones? Any questions?

RRG and "Little" brother after the Surf City half-marathon 2011.  I'm pretty sure we were quoting movie lines during that race.

RRG and “Little” brother after the Surf City half-marathon 2011. I’m pretty sure we were quoting movie lines during that race.

The Comeback Kid and the Snoopy Balloon

I love my job.  I mean, I really, really love my job.  How many people can honestly tell you they love what they do for a living?  For the most part, people go to work to earn a paycheck and go home.  But I am in the rare position of actually, really, truly loving what I do.  David, my boss and owner of all 3 FLEET FEET St. Louis stores, always says “Do what you love, love what you do.”  It’s a good motto and I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do just that.

I don’t just love my job because I get to wear running clothes to work.  Although that is a nice perk because A) It’s a little like wearing pajamas all day, and B) I can leave work and immediately go for a run, which I am frequently known to do.  And I don’t just love my job because I get to try out all the new shoes and other cool running accessories as they come in.

My dad always said, “Surround yourself with good people.” I can honestly say I’ve done that, some of the people I work with have become like my family. That’s just one more reason I love my job. Runners typically tend to be happy people (it’s the endorphin high) so being around other runners all the time generally makes life better.  Additionally, I share in the privilege of leading the weekly social run at the store, so I get to hang out with a bunch of sweaty runners who love pizza.  Is there anything better than that?!

The best part of my job, though, is the opportunity to encourage other people in a love of running.  My favorite customers are the people who come into the store not really knowing why they want to start running, they just know that they do.  These are the customers who want to suck up all the knowledge and all the enthusiasm I can offer.  I don’t claim to know all there is to know about running, not even close, but I do know that my passion for it is contagious.  It is an absolute joy to work with people who have an open mind to the feeling of freedom and the rush of adrenaline that only a ‘Runner’s high’ can provide.  They are just about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, and they have no idea what’s coming.

It’s always funny to me, the people who say, “Well, I’m not really a runner, I just run a couple miles at a time and I’m really slow” or “I’ve only run 1 half-marathon , so I’m not actually a runner.”  Umm, yes, you are.  It doesn’t matter how far or how fast you run, if you lace up your running shoes on occasion and hit the trail or the road or the track for a 50-miler or 50 meters or anything in between, you are a runner.

It’s March.  In specialty running, that means track and field season.  Despite my early exposure to running, and a life-long love affair with it, I actually have very limited personal experience in the area of track and field.  I ran track in Jr. High, but that was really before we got into all the technical equipment of spikes and such.  I only ran one season of Cross Country my freshman year of high school and when spring came around I went out for the softball team.  I remember my dad taking me to buy my first glove.  I still have that glove, it has never been replaced.  But anyway, back to running.  My friend and co-worker, Barb, is the resident track expert at the store.  As a former track coach, she has been incredibly helpful in assisting my efforts to learn the ins and outs of this particular niche of running.

The other day, as I was talking with Barb about my minimal track experience, I began to recall a story.  The very first race I ever remember running was the 400m dash at Field Day in 4th grade.  If I remember correctly, there were 2 girls from each of the 7 or 8 fourth grade classes signed up for that event and our class held try-outs to see who would represent Mrs. Troster’s room.  I know I remember correctly when I say that for most of that race I was in dead last.  But somehow, as we came up on the halfway mark, I started to pass some of the other girls.  With 100m left I was in second place.  And with just a few strides to go, I passed Kim Scott for the win.  Talk about a high!  Winning is awesome, but there is nothing better than a win like that.  It was completely unexpected.  When I got home from school later that day, I had a surprise waiting for me, from my dad; a congratulatory Snoopy balloon.  I don’t tend to be overly sentimental and keep a lot of stuff just for the sake of nostalgia, because I always say the thing is not the memory. I actually stole that line from Peter Walsh who hosted that show ‘Clean Sweep’ on HGTV.  Lindsey quirk #4-I am obsessed with chucking any unnecessary clutter in my life.  But I’m pretty sure that balloon is in a box somewhere at my mom’s house.  I kept it because it’s not just a deflated Mylar balloon. I kept it because of what it represents.  It represents a Never give up attitude and a come from behind win.  But it doesn’t just represent winning, because winning isn’t always about being the first one to cross the finish line.  It represents a spirit in me that my dad celebrated all those years ago when he gave me that snoopy balloon.  It represents the fact that even when I can see that things aren’t going my way, I won’t just give up and quit.  I won’t roll over and die.  I will fight to the finish. I am strong enough to push through and make a comeback.  That wasn’t the only time in my life that I had to make a comeback, and it certainly hasn’t been the most challenging, and I guarantee there will be more.  I guess you can just call me the Comeback Kid, because the fact of the matter is that I won’t ever quit, even when it’s hard, I’ll keep on pushing forward.  And that’s the spirit I hope to impart on every person that I put into a new pair of running shoes at FLEET FEET.  It’s just too bad I can’t send them all out of the store with a Snoopy balloon of their own.

Friends that are like family...RRG, Jess and Liz

Friends that are like family…RRG, Jess and Liz

Lindsey squared heatin it up...leaving out the back door of FLEET FEET so we can do what we love.

Lindsey squared heatin it up…leaving out the back door of FLEET FEET so we can do what we love.

The fearless leaders of the FLEET FEET Chesterfield social run...RRG and Cole.

The fearless leaders of the FLEET FEET Chesterfield social run…RRG and Cole.



Brand New Me

The past couple days have been FULL of good news.  Ask anyone who saw me yesterday, I was bouncing off the walls at all the positive things that have been happening in my life.  As usual, life is a rollercoaster, but it’s been an adrenaline pumping thrill ride this week.  I was put to the test of how much I’ve grown over the past several months, and I passed, with flying colors!  I saw very clearly my own personal growth.  It was awesome!

So, why did I wake up this morning feeling so down?  I think the emotional high of the past couple days left me a little bit drained.  Additionally, even though I rose to the occasion in the battle of some of my old demons, it was still a battle.  To say I was emotionally exhausted this morning would be an understatement.  It was one of those days where I wanted to set my theme song on repeat, Brand New Me by Alicia Keys, to remind myself that I’m not the same person that I was a year ago.  Lindsey quirk #3-Yes, I have a theme song.  Actually, if I’m being honest, I have several.

Somehow, despite my depleted emotional state, my physical energy was oddly very much intact.  I ran twice today.  I needed to.  Even though I knew I would be running 5 miles with the social run tonight at FLEET FEET, I knew that I needed to get my hills in.  I went to Babler and tried, for four miles, to find some answers and to clear the fog that had settled on my brain.

As I was running, I determined that despite my obvious growth, I was somewhat pissed that it had even been tested.  And then as I thought about it more, I was pissed at the person who had tested it.  And even more I was pissed that I had allowed myself to be put in a position that required so much growth over so many years.  I’m still sorting through some of that.  (On a side note, boxing is really good for anger management.  For legal reasons, it’s a much better idea to punch a bag than a person.)

I got an email from my friend Emily this morning, and it’s funny because I had actually just been thinking about her when my phone buzzed with the notification of her message.  I was specifically thinking of the last time Emily and I got to run together last winter.  We did about 7 miles on the lakefront on a beautiful, brisk Chicago morning when the coolest thing happened.  We were running along, just south of Navy Pier and all of a sudden Emily stopped and pointed to something on the ground.  The word ‘FORGIVE’ had been spray painted on the sidewalk.  Emily said these were painted all over town, but she’d never actually seen one.  I don’t know if she’s seen any since, but I don’t get to run in Chicago all that often anymore, so it’s the only one I’ve seen.

I love the picture I took of it. I love how the shadows crossed through the word making it kind of abstract.  Because, let’s be real, the concept of forgiveness is kind of abstract.

Forgiveness is a tough one.  People hurt us.  People make us angry.  Webster defines the word Forgive as 1: to give up resentment of or claim to requital for; and 2: to cease to feel resentment against.  Resentment can be nasty.  It leads to bitterness and it eats away at your heart if you allow it to.  I have always said, I will not be a stereotype, I do not want to be bitter.  I just won’t allow it.

However, forgiveness is a process. It takes time.  Sometimes it takes a lot of time.  It’s not just something where you can say, Ok, I forgive you, it’s over, and then move on and never think about it again. Sure, it’d be great if that was actually possible, but we’re human and we just don’t have the capability to do that.   And here’s the worst part, sometimes you don’t even get the apology that you may be entitled to.  So, what do you do with that?

Well, all I really can do is listen to my heart and just keep trying. I can be the brand new me that I know I am. I believe that I always want to forgive completely, but it takes time to work through that and I won’t say that I have forgiven before I’m ready to.  Coerced forgiveness or a forced apology, isn’t real, so who does that help anyway?

Some things are relatively easy to forgive, like someone accidentally spilling beer on you (I’m really glad we can laugh about that, Marxkors!) or your children breaking the screen door (Ok, so I was pretty mad about that one, and all three kids went to their rooms until they decided to tell the truth about it. But, once they did, I got over it.  And, by the way, it’s still not fixed.)

I’ve heard Britta say many times, “Nothing is unforgiveable”.  It’s true some things might be a lot harder to work through than others, especially when someone really hurts our heart.  It’s difficult, it’s challenging, but it’s not impossible.

The other thing about forgiving that can be really tough is when someone knows our heart is hurt and they keep poking the bruise anyway. That’s what happened to me yesterday, my bruise got poked.  And today I was dealing with the after effects of that.  I needed to face that.  So I did.  I thought about it. I was sad about it for a while. Then I ran some hills.  And then, I let it go. There is freedom in forgiveness. If only it could always be that simple.

Emily and RRG, right after we found 'FORGIVE'.

Emily and RRG, right after we found ‘FORGIVE’.