Monthly Archives: February 2013

Running Through the Storm

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It’s funny how day to day life happens so gradually, but one morning you wake up and come to a screeching halt as you realize how totally far away you’ve gotten from the person you thought you were and the person you hoped to become.

Not all that long ago I was in the midst of a personal crisis.  I had just moved to a new state, was trying to get settled into a new house and was struggling to understand the tragic death of a dear sister in law and my unborn nephew.  All the while, I was faking a marriage that had completely fallen apart.  Instead of dealing with any of this in a healthy way, I escaped into my own little fantasy world.  I still managed to take care of my 3 kiddos, unpack all the boxes and follow through with my commitments.   I did it all under the guise of “I’m doing just fine”, when really, I wasn’t.  At all.  In fact, I hadn’t been fine for a really long time.  Years.  I tried to make everything look wonderful on the outside, to cover up the fact that inside was a big, old, ugly mess.  Eventually, my fantasy world came crashing down around me, as they inevitably do, and it was time to start picking up the pieces.

I’ve always attached my identity to others…I’ve been a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend.  But who am I?  Who am I?  I had absolutely no idea.  And so began the quest to figure it out.  I quickly realized that I had been so focused on taking care of everyone around me I had completely forgotten to take care of myself.  That is, in a healthy way, not the self-centered way I had been living inside my own head as a means of survival.  I took on the emotions of everyone else, to the point that I didn’t have a clue what I was feeling.  I was getting buried alive under everyone else’s baggage.  I had gone numb to my own emotions, lost the ability to feel and put up a wall. A big, thick, brick wall. On one side of the wall, I painted a picture of the always smiling mom with the perfect, happy life who had the kids sitting nicely, the house clean and dinner ready when their dad got home.  But on the other side of the wall, I had allowed others to quench my spirit and break me down into a woman I didn’t even recognize. I went into self-destruction mode, crying out for someone – anyone – to just notice me.

Initially, it was easier to define what I didn’t want to be.  I didn’t want to be a doormat.  I didn’t want to be a cookie-cutter image of the people around me.  I didn’t want to be an extension of anyone else.   I did not want to be a victim.  I couldn’t continue to ignore the fact that I have a right to set down boundaries for myself and other people need to respect them.  I no longer wanted the heart of stone that couldn’t feel.  And I didn’t want to stay trapped inside myself.  How in the world was I going to break out? How was I going to take down the wall?  Well, the only way I could, one brick at a time.

The first question I addressed pertained to how I could take care of myself through this process of, it may sound cliché, “finding myself”.  Well, I love to run and it’s been on my bucket list to get to Boston for THE marathon of marathons.  I had been training for another 26.2 in April of 2011 when my world began to crumble, but that got thrown by the wayside.  I began to research fall races and map out my next course.  Then, I started my training program to run the Quebec marathon on August 28, of that same year.  Running gives me time to think, time to process everything going on around me.  But it also gives me time to just “be”, when I don’t have the capacity to think anymore.  My passion for running gave me an idea.  I remember sitting at IHOP with my mom one morning talking about a need to get out and do something for me.  We could see FLEET FEET through the window where we sat.  Less than a month later I started my new job where I get to share my enthusiasm for an awesome sport with others, people from all walks of life and various levels of ability, from the beginning jogger who has decided to make a life change to the amazing ironman tri-athlete who has overcome great odds of addiction or illness, and everyone in between.  Everyone has a story to tell and I love to hear them.

Writing is another of my passions.  I know, go figure, right?  But with a background in foster care, I never had any formal training in journalism.  I enjoy writing and I believe it allows me to articulate in a way that I otherwise can’t.  So when I stumbled across an opportunity to write for an online news page, I sent in a writing sample and was accepted.  Voila!  That was easy.  It was just a matter of setting my fear and self-doubt aside long enough to put myself out there.  Every Wednesday during that summer, was “Field Trip Day”.  The kids and I would load up a backpack containing our essentials for the day and go off to explore our new surroundings.  This not only gave us something to look forward to doing together each week, it also gave me great material to write about.

So, what have I learned through my journey to find myself?  I learned that the answers I was seeking weren’t nearly as profound as I expected them to be.  I’ve learned that I really hadn’t lost who I was as much as I thought.  In fact, I’m still most of the things I was…a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend; but I found out that I’m so much more, too.  All of my labels that attach me to others are part of who I am, but they don’t define me.  I’m an individual, I’m a runner, I’m a writer.  I’m passionate about the people and the things I love.  One of the best things that anyone said to me during this journey to find myself is that I am valuable.  I deserve validation and all the time it takes for me to process and respond to any given situation.  I want to be totally authentic.  I have real feelings and emotions and I’m not afraid to figure out what they are and express them anymore.  I get very excited and animated when I share stories of things that make me happy. I get sad when the people I love are hurting.  I get very scared when I feel vulnerable. But I allow myself to feel those emotions fully.  I express them.   And then I release them so they don’t weigh me down and overwhelm me.  I set goals for myself, sometimes I accomplish them and sometimes I don’t.  But that doesn’t mean I’ve failed, it just means I need to reevaluate my goals and keep on trying.  I make good choices and bad choices.  Hopefully, the good out-weigh the bad, but when the bad blow up in my face, I want to teach my kids and myself that I can get through it.  My successes and my failures are part of what makes me who I am, but not my definition.  I want to be a good example of a strong, healthy, well balanced woman for my children.  I can’t expect to do it all perfectly, but I hope that I can teach my children to be self-assured, well-adjusted people who are not afraid to love whole-heartedly, laugh often, live fully, take risks and stand up for themselves and what they believe in.  I hope that we can celebrate each other’s successes and I hope that when we mess up really big, we can say, “Well, that sucks, but I still love you and we can get through this.”

In loving myself, I am much better at loving others.  I am a more calm, caring and patient mom (most of the time).  I am a more empathetic friend and a better listener.  Self-awareness has helped me to really not sweat the small stuff, because I am able to declare the things that truly bother me and let everything else slide off, instead of letting it all fester in a cauldron of stress and unevaluated emotion.  There is a sense of freedom that comes with that and freedom was something that I was desperately longing for.  It is highly unlikely that I will ever be completely fearless, but I am no longer willing to let my fears hold me back from doing anything.

So, what does define me? Well, it’s an ongoing, changing, evolving definition.  But life is not necessarily about the definition, it’s about the journey to try and find it.  The best part is, if I discover something about myself that I don’t like, I can change it.  For now, I just try tolive in the moment and enjoy the things I love, with the people I love.  I love to run.  I love to write.  I love the funny things my kids say. I love to walk on the beach and stare up at the moon on a clear night.  I love coffee, probably more than I should.  I love that my little brother can make me laugh so hard I almost pee my pants.  I love singing at the top of my voice when I’m driving and I don’t care who sees me.  I love exploring new places.  I love that I sometimes talk to my best friend on the phone multiple times a day.  I love the extraordinary moments that happen when I least expect them.  I love surprising someone with the perfect present.  I love crappy, reality TV (I know, it’s sad, but I do).   I love a good glass of wine with my girlfriends.  Most importantly, I love that now I can say, and really believe, that this is who I am. Take it or leave it, this is me.

As for my dream of getting to Boston for the pinnacle of my running career, Hurricane Irene had other plans for me in Canada. Despite my training and preparation, I was unable to even attempt the Quebec marathon that day because of the gale force winds that caused the race officials to cancel my event.   I spent an amazing weekend in Quebec, only to find out the morning of the race that my goal would have to wait.  But I learned a lot more about myself through that whole experience that completes me as a person.  I was devastated that I didn’t get to run my race and I cried.  I cried the whole long, miserable walk back to the hotel in the rain.  Then I spent a rainy day sitting in a quaint, French coffee shop looking at the whole situation to assess what I could gain from it.  However, that didn’t stop me from throwing a 2 week long pity party about lost chances.  When I finally put a stop to that, I felt like I still had an itch that needed to be scratched after the frustrating demise of not just one, but two marathons.  Sometimes life just takes unexpected turns and you have to figure out what direction you’re going to head from there. The direction I chose was south, to Dallas for the Whiterock Marathon.  I didn’t run it with numbers in my head, putting a lot of extra pressure on myself.  I ran it for the pure joy of running and to honor my dad who ran that very same race 30 years ago.  I ran it 2 days after the 10th anniversary of saying good-bye to him.  I ran to heal.  In 40 degrees, gusty winds and pouring rain, I ran my heart out.   I missed my Boston qualifying time by just minutes, but I ran my fastest marathon ever because I ran simply for the feeling of joy and freedom that running gives me.  I don’t know if I will ever get to run Boston, but that doesn’t take anything away from what I’ve already accomplished.  Just like everything else in life, it’s really not about the destination; it’s about how you push through all the obstacles you face and what you learn along the way.

 

The view of Quebec City from my hotel room...the day BEFORE the marathon.

The view of Quebec City from my hotel room…the day BEFORE the marathon.

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Some Days You’ve Got it, and Some Day You Don’t

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Some days you’ve got it, and some days you don’t.  My legs are toast today.  Every time I move, I pretty much want to cry. My quads are screaming.  After 3 days of doing almost nothing due to having the kids at home for snow days, I went and ran 15 miles yesterday.  And lemme tell ya, I’m feeling it today.  I guess, to say I did nothing on those snow days, isn’t entirely accurate.  I ran in circles and jumped through hoops trying to entertain 3 kiddos who were suddenly off school for a couple days.  And I shoveled snow, lots of snow.  I was the first person on my street to have a cleared driveway.  It’s the Chicago girl in me.  If I’m going to be stuck at home, it will definitely not be because of my own doing. It’s amazing how much of a workout shoveling can be.  But anyway, yeah, I got up this morning with the intention of running before or after boxing.  But alas, boxing is all I was able to manage today.  It was funny that on the jab-jab-roll-hook-cross-cross combo, David said to me, “Nice power.”  Because quite frankly, I didn’t feel like I had any power today.  And my roundhouse kicks were severely lacking in comparison to what they typically are.

So, today was a day that I just didn’t really have my usual stuff.  Of course, sometimes, on those days vanity can kick in and do incredible things.  A couple weeks ago, I had just that experience.  I walked into boxing on a Wednesday morning, and the first thing I said to David was, “You better start this class soon or I’m gonna lay down on the floor and go to sleep.”  I was tired and I didn’t feel like working particularly hard that day.  But something changed as soon as I glanced in the mirror and figured out that my eyes were not playing tricks on me.  Jackie Joyner Kersee was at the back of the room, taking the same class I was.  OMG, I get to work out with Jackie Joyner Kersee.  Holy Crap, that is so flipping cool!

You can bet I didn’t slack on that workout.  As tired as I felt, something in me kicked into high gear, call it pride or vanity or whatever, but I went full throttle when I saw Jackie.  No wusses here!  I was dripping with sweat by the time we finished.  Like, we’re talking eyes burning from the streams of sweat pouring down my face dripping.

When we finished, I hesitated.  I didn’t want to storm her as soon as the class was done, but there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to talk to Jackie.  (Yeah, that’s right, I’ve seen her again since and we’re on a first name basis.  Well, ok, I’m on a first name basis, she probably doesn’t remember mine.) Anyway, I put away my weights, had a drink of water, and was chatting it up with some of the regulars I know.  I put on my jacket, my black Fleet Feet jacket that I wear proudly so that people know I’m a part of the running community.  I grabbed my boxing gloves and my keys, and threw my sunglasses on top of my head, which is so classic Lindsey.  I looked around…where did she go?  Shoot!  Did she leave?  Oh, nope, she was on one of the weight machines.  I walked casually across the gym.  Ok, so, maybe I was trying really hard to appear casual.  On the inside I was jumping up and down like a kid in a candy store. She looked up and saw me coming.  I smiled.  Jackie smiled.  I spoke, “I don’t want to interrupt your workout, but I just wanted to say Hi.  I’m Lindsey.”  She extended her hand and I shook it, as she said something…I was in a fog, I think she said HI, or nice to meet you, or something, but I really couldn’t tell you which.  I told Jackie that I had received a finishers medal from her a couple times at the Bridge the Gap half marathon in Quincy.  She said, “Oh, I was just up there for the kickoff.  Are you going to do it again this year?”  I said, “Well, I’m not sure yet.  I’m signed up for the Vancouver marathon which is the week before.”  She kind of chuckled and said something like, “Oh, you marathoners.  I couldn’t do that.”  Are you kidding me?!  This is Jackie Joyner Kersee!  I’m just happy to be standing in the same room with her and all of her Olympic greatness.

We talked for a minute about Fleet Feet and the 5K race that Jackie’s foundation is hoping to start next year with the help of our race timing division.  Then I told Jackie I’d let her get back to her workout.  She made a comment about needing to get in shape.  HA!  I responded with, “I don’t think you have anything to worry about there.  But when you’re ready for new shoes, come see me at FLEET FEET”.  I really hope she does.

RRG and JJK at the finish of the Bridge the Gap half marathon in Quincy, IL

RRG and JJK at the finish of the Bridge the Gap half marathon in Quincy, IL

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Looking For a Silver Lining

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Everything happens for a reason.  I have always, and still do, believe that.  But that doesn’t mean I always have to like it.

This weekend, I was in a funk.  As I finished my run this morning, a whole bunch of my friends were all gathered in my favorite park to run a 15k trail race that I was registered for but unable to compete in.  Ya see, the group holding this race, had to move the date from Saturday to Sunday, but I work on Sundays, and with the start time not being until 10am, there was just no way to swing it.

At first, I was in denial about the situation.  Then, I fought desperately to try and work out the details…if I run it fast enough, and then don’t stop at the finish line but go straight to my car and drive exactly 7-10 mph over the speed limit, I might get to work only a few minutes late.  And I will have to irritate my co-workers by being stinky Lindsey all day.  Hmmm…but…if all does not go well, which is entirely possible given the 5 inches of snow we just got, chances are I’ll be more like an hour late to work. And still no shower.  Back to denial.   And then on to pouting.  And then, finally, sucking it up and accepting the bitter truth of the anti-climactic end to this particular race.  Done.  Sigh…

That sounds oddly like the stages of grieving, doesn’t it?

Ok, so obviously, in the grand scheme of things, not being able to run this race was not my biggest loss in life.  But the reality is I was looking forward to it, so I’m disappointed that it didn’t work out.  Sometimes these things happen, and it’s ok to be disappointed, and to be a little pissed, and to pout if I need to.  Like I said, it’s not the end of the world.  And it’s really a matter of perspective.  But the fact remains, I wanted to do something and I didn’t get to and that sucks a little because now I’m left with this feeling of an itch that needs to be scratched.  I Want To RACE.  I was getting all amped up to go throw down on this snowy trail, so what am I supposed to do with all the energy and adrenaline that’s been building up for weeks?

Now what?  Well, I text Nicole and Farrell to go for a 15 mile training run.  That’s what.

I met the girls early this morning at Forest Park, one of the few places that was plowed, so we could log some long miles. Our topics of conversation ranged everything from how as runners we are kinda gross and sometimes have no concept of what is socially acceptable; to why that woman was running with a very large, albeit fashionable, scarf which had to have been very sweaty and itchy; to analysis of the Gym Class Heroes song The Fighter being a great running song.  But the really fun part was talking about Farrell’s wedding, cause Nicole and I are both in it.  Oh, yeeeah… can we say bachelorette party roadtrip???  Actually, I love that Farrell is getting married to Ryan.  My first memory of Ryan is that he calls Linds his angel, which I find completely adorable.  And he proposed to her on HIS birthday.  Seriously?!  Who does that?! He’s definitely a keeper.  And Farrell is a friend that has stood by me at some pretty crazy times in life.  She was one of the first people to see me the day I filed for divorce and she will be quick to tell you I was freaking out.  I have learned a lot about love through both having Farrell as my friend, and through watching her relationship with Ryan.  This is a couple who gives me hope.   I definitely wouldn’t say I’m thinking of getting married again anytime soon, or even at all.  I’m not really ready to think about any of that just yet.  I don’t know what’s in my future.  Right now, I’m pretty happy just being Lindsey. But Ryan and Farrell make me believe that maybe, just maybe, it’s possible, that love like that really exists.

So, what’s the silver lining of a race I had to bail on today?  Well, I didn’t incur any kind of injury on those icy trails that might have dashed my hopes of Vancouver.  And I got to hang out with two of the coolest, most badass chicks I know.   And I was reminded once again to hang on to hope.  Oh, and I made it to work on time, so I get to keep my job.  That’s a plus.

Anyway, now the big question is…who’s up for running the St. Patty’s Day race with me?

 

The awesome group of running peeps I was supposed to race with today.

The awesome group of running peeps I was supposed to race with today.

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I Can and I Will

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Last night I had the good fortune of spending the evening with some truly amazing multi-sport athletes.  I was invited to dinner at my friend Teri’s house.   I pulled up to Teri’s home and at first glance my SUV with Thule bike rack seemed to fit in perfectly with the other vehicles lining the street.  However, mine was lacking something. I felt a flutter of adrenaline, as I parked behind a jeep displaying the Mdot logo, indicating the driver is an Ironman.  That feeling of adrenaline increased, as I walked past car after car with 140.6 stickers.  Amazing!  Who am I to be invited into the company of such accomplished greatness?! In July, I will merely attempt to do HALF of what several of these women have already completed, some multiple times.  Some while fighting incredible odds.  One whose name is Teri Griege.

I still remember the first time I met Teri.  I had just been working at FLEET FEET for a very short amount of time; I don’t even think I was fitting shoes yet.  Teri and her daughter came into the store to find something for her to wear on TV.  Huh?  What kind of TV show do you go on in running apparel? The kind where they send a film crew to your house so you can be one of the highlighted competitors at the KONA Ironman World Championships, that’s what kind.  Teri started to tell us her story.  She had been invited to Kona as an inspirational athlete because she had just missed qualifying when she competed in Ironman Louisville.  But here’s the kicker…Teri came within minutes qualifying for the Ironman Worlds, while she had cancer.  Only 2 weeks after completing that race in Louisville, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer.  Teri took that news and turned it into strength.  She continued to train despite chemotherapy.  Last week at swimming practice, someone told me that Teri will go to a chemo treatment and then come straight to the pool for a workout.  Incredible.

As Teri stood there in Fleet Feet that day, telling her story, the 6 or so of us who were working, in addition to the other customers in the store, were all crowded around listening.  I can’t remember who all was there, I know Faith was standing next to me and I think Jess was with us, too.  I’m pretty sure every last one of us was crying.  I know I was.  And I still get choked up when I think about how absolutely amazing my friend Teri is for all that she’s accomplished.

Last October, despite a diagnosis of Colon cancer that had spread to her liver, major surgery, and many chemo treatments, Teri went to Kona and completed the 2.4 mile swim in the Pacific Ocean, followed by a 112 mile bike and then a full marathon.  Everyone knows I love running marathons, but I really can’t even fathom throwing down 26.2 after an already full day of athletic activities like that.  And I especially can’t fathom doing it while battling a vicious, grueling disease.  Teri can.  And she continues to fight.

About a month ago, Teri came into the store because her daughter Katie needed some running shoes.  While I helped Katie with shoes, Teri asked what I am currently training for.  I told her the Vancouver marathon and Racine 70.3.  Teri said she is going to be in Racine too, which is awesome, because just knowing that Teri will be there too gives me inspiration.  She will likely be using it as training for some other Ironman race, while I am just hoping to finish it.  As we talked, Teri said she’s planning on Ironman Arizona 2014.  She wanted me to think about doing it too.  Are you kidding?!  That’s the coolest invitation I’ve ever had to anything in my life!  But, I haven’t even completed 70.3 yet, I have no idea how that’s gonna go.  And as I sat there, with the wheels turning in my head, waves of doubt crashing around and coliding with thoughts of “Well, maybe?”  I was physically unable to utter the words “I can’t” to this woman.  Because this is Teri Griege, you don’t say “I can’t” to her about anything.  If she can, and she HAS, then you at least try.  I don’t know that this is the right time for me to attempt something of that magnitude, what with having 3 small children and adjusting to a new lifestyle.  But I know that if the opportunity was to present itself, the only logical response to Teri is, “I can and I will.”

I am humbled and blessed to call Teri my friend.  More than anything, she inspires me to remember that anything is possible!

Here is the link to Teri’s website.  http://terigriege.com/ She truly is Powered By Hope.

RRG and Teri Griege-Ironwoman

RRG and Teri Griege-Ironwoman

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Remain Calm and Breathe When You Need To…

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It’s Tuesday, my swim day.  I’m a runner, not a swimmer.  But since my friends thought it would be “Fun” to sign up for a half Ironman this summer, and for some dumb reason I agreed (there may have been alcohol involved in that decision), I have designated Tuesdays as my swimming day.

It started over a year ago, when Farrell signed up for Ironman Arizona.  2012 was, for me, about forging unknown territory, so I figured I’d take on the new challenge of the triathlon world.  Farrell agreed to do Lake St. Louis with me and talk me through the whole process.  In turn, I convinced one of my Thursday night social runners to sign up too.  That social runner was Steve.  And that was the very beginning of our Will and Grace relationship.  Then we pulled Nick in to our little crew. From there, our triathlon group has grown and now there is something like 15 of us who will be traveling north up 55, past Chicago, into Wisconsin this summer to conquer Racine 70.3.

Just over a month ago, I started taking swimming lessons.  I, very literally, had only swum laps a handful of times. (Yeah, that’s right, I said swum, spell check informed me ‘swam’ was incorrect)  Somehow I managed to survive a .932 mile swim last year at the first and only triathlon I’ve completed.  I can’t say competed in, because it was my goal to merely survive.  It was ugly.  I mean, it was reeeeeally ugly.  Entire waves of people who started behind me all passed me, climbing over me in the water.  I’m pretty sure there was only one other bright pink swim cap (designated for Females 35-39) left on the course when I crawled out of the water gasping for air.  And I had to do WHAT after that?!  Go ride 24 miles on a bike and then run a 10k?  Are you kidding me?!  My ego preceded me when I thought I should sign up for the Olympic distance over the Sprint distance because I thought…Ha! I can run a 5k OR a 10k in my sleep, backwards and blindfolded.  Uhhh, yeah, try doing that immediately following two other athletic feats and let me know how that turns out for ya.  The 10k at LSL was without a doubt, the slowest, most difficult and most mentally challenging 10k of my entire running career.

I’m always up for a new challenge, so why had I not tried triathlons already?  I’ll tell you why not.  Swimming.  It’s scary.  You actually have to put your face under the water, where you can’t get oxygen, which is necessary for breathing, while exerting extensive amounts of energy at the same time.  That’s just dumb.  But ya know what’s even more scary?  Admitting that I’m going to try to do something that I really, really suck at.  I’m exposing my weaknesses.  I’m declaring to everyone that sees me, this is something that doesn’t make me feel strong, in fact, it makes me feel incredibly vulnerable and insecure.

Walking in to the pool that first day, I felt like a first class loser.  I felt like everyone was going to be looking at me wondering “What in the world is she doing?”  And I’m not just talking about my swimming technique, or lack thereof.  I’m also talking about the fact that I know nothing of pool etiquette.  I am going from the realm of running, where I feel like I can hold my own; to the realm of the great unknown.  How is it that my best friend was a college swimmer, and I know absolutely nothing about the sport? Nothing other than the name Michael Phelps, that is.

As human beings, we have this tendency to shy away from things we aren’t good at.  But here’s the thing…if we haven’t ever done it before, we’re not supposed to be good at it.  Everything takes practice.  Everyone has to start somewhere, whether that’s swimming or running or what have you.  I’ve taken almost a full hour off of my marathon time from my first to my best.  That didn’t happen overnight.  That happened over the course of 7 YEARS. Granted I had 3 children during those years, but still, it took a while.  And none of my children came into the world knowing how to walk, or talk, or feed themselves.  It was a learning process.  A long, messy, some scraped knees, lots of tears and frustration, process.

The good news is, in just a few weeks, I’ve come a long way with swimming.  I feel 100 times more confident in the water.  And I can already tell my stroke is way more efficient than the spaztic splashing I called swimming not that long ago.  I actually believe that when I get to Racine for that 1.2 mile swim in July, I’m not going to feel like the complete disaster that I was in Lake St. Louis. I’ve actually made progress, because I tried.  I still won’t be the fastest or the best one out there, but who cares?!  There’s always going to be someone better than me at most stuff.

Here’s my point…when we face the things we’re afraid of, or the things we just don’t know how to do, we find out that they really aren’t that scary after all. We just have to take a deep breath, get out there and try. The scarier part is exposing ourselves as less than capable at something, less than perfect.  Well, I’m calling it out.  I am WAY less than perfect.  (Imperfect People Unite!) There are lots of things I don’t know how to do.  But I’m not going to let any kind of fear stand in my way of trying!

Something Coach Andy says to me is, “Breathe as often as you need to.”   That’s a good thing to always remember.  Because sometimes life is just a series of deep breaths…

 

Lindsey squared aka The Ironman and the Novice (I'm the novice)

Lindsey squared aka The Ironman and the Novice (I’m the novice)

 

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7 Mile Trail, Recovery Run?

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On this perfectly, amazing President’s Day morning, I had the privilege of showing my friend, Nicole, some of my favorite parts of Castlewood State Park.  We had originally planned to meet on Saturday, but it got pushed to today.  And we had originally planned to run 9ish miles…maybe more.  However, since I ran 15 on Saturday and she ran 14 yesterday (she’s training for the Flying Pig in Cincinnati the same weekend I’m running Vancouver), we decided not to overdo it.  We wanted to tackle some of the hills, but we took it pretty easy, nice and slow and decided on a shorter route.  We did a 4 mile loop, ended up back at the parking lot and felt pretty good so we went a few more.  Nothing like calling a 7 mile trail run a recovery run, but that summed it up well for both of us.  The weather, the scenery and the company were all perfect.  Ya can’t ask for more than that.

Funny side story-Nicole calls me LJ, so I was telling her that one of my other friends who calls me LJ put me into the calendar on her phone recently and auto-correct decided my new name is Lulujamba.  Not sure where that came from, but I kinda like it.  Anyway, then Nicole said that last night when she told her hubby she was running with LJ, he was like…What?! Who’s that?!  She said, “Lindsey J, from Fleet Feet”.  There used to be 2 Lindsey’s at the store, then for a brief period there were 3 of us, and now we’re back to 2; but it gets complicated so we are ever coming up with new names for each other.  Lindsey Harris and I call each other “H” and “J”, respectively.  And Lindsey Farrel is just “Farrel”.  Anyway, Nicole’s hubby was glad to hear that his wife was not going off to the woods for some alone time with who he had pictured in his mind for “LJ” and that I am, in fact, not a well-built, black man.  Quite the opposite, actually.

So, near the end of our run, I was telling Nicole that last night I registered for the Smoky Mountain Relay.  This was a race I ran a year ago with the Smokin’ Aces, an awesome group of 8 other peeps who came along right when I needed them, people who went from being strangers to friends, literally overnight. I was at a pretty low point back then, and that group taught me so much about camaraderie, compassion and confidence, both in other people and in myself.  I get emotional thinking about that weekend in the mountains and what that experience meant to me.  The Aces are gearing up for the 2013 relay, and we’ve got several returning members.  A few have had to bail, due to little things like pregnancies and babies and injuries and such, but the majority of the team should be back and we’ve stacked the deck with some additional players.

But I was telling Nicole, I kind of struggled with what to do this year.  Ya see, this time, the Smoky Mountain Relay, falls on a weekend that I have custody of my kiddos.  So, I’m going to have to give up some time with them to go do this.  It’s a sacrifice, but it’s also a choice.  I’ve been known to struggle with “Mom Guilt” from time to time.  But something in me was pulling me to do this relay again.  Most of my races involve me going out and pushing myself to do my best and then I’m done.  This is different.  I have to rely on my teammates, and they have to rely on me.  We have to work together, but we also have an incredible amount of fun in the process.  This is a race that I really, REALLY want to go do.  And so, I’m going.  After I told Nicole this, she said she distinctly remembers a time when she was little that her mom was struggling with some things and her mom said to her, “Sometimes, as a parent, you have to do things that are good for your soul.”  And that’s exactly what the SMR is for me.  It’s good for my soul.  Obviously, I want to do well for my team, but there is so much more to it.  Being in the Smoky Mountains with friends who cheer me on in running and in life, friends who I can have a conversation with while we’re in adjoining port-a-johns, friends who will let me curl up and nap on them in a van after I’m all sweaty and haven’t showered, friends who will make me Ramen noodles at 2am, friends who accept me just as I am and love me in spite of myself.  That’s good for my soul.

On April 19, 2013, the Smokin’ Aces will reconvene in the Smokies and we will be gunning for the only team that took us down last year.  Look out Maggots, the Aces are coming for you!

And now for your additional reading pleasure…or if you’re just bored at work and find my ramblings entertaining, I am including something I wrote upon returning home from North Carolina last year, following SMR 2012.  Enjoy…

All I Ever Really Needed to Know About Life, I Learned from the Smoky Mountain Relay…

You are even stronger and more capable than you realize ~ True hospitality is welcoming strangers into your house, when you’re not even there ~ When given the choice, go ahead and start an hour early ~ Take the road less traveled every once in a while ~ There are people who are willing to help you, if you let them ~ Easy does not necessarily mean flat ~ Peanut Butter, Nutella and bananas on tortillas are a great combination ~ If you are going to fall out of the van, make sure you’re wearing pants ~ It’s good to be flexible with the schedule ~ Just because you catch a toad, doesn’t mean you’ve found a prince ~ Sometimes you have to blaze an unmarked trail ~ No hair makes you more aerodynamic ~ Its possible to go so fast you feel like you’re flying ~ A sleeve makes a good neck warmer ~ Maggots suck it ~ Don’t forget the Nathan wipes ~ Horses are a little creepy, especially at night ~ You can soak up so much that you get a little soggy ~ Homegrown sausage is delicious ~ You get really comfortable with strangers after 30 hours in a van ~ There are people who will go into the woods to find you and push you up the hill when you can’t do it on your own ~ Mike Hunt is really hard to find ~ Primally-epic is a word, isn’t it? ~ If you feel a little nauseous, eat some chips ~ No matter how bad things may seem, don’t forget to look around and appreciate something amazing ~ Take the map and follow the directions ~ Sometimes you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other ~ Bring an extra pair of socks…or 3 ~ Ramen noodles are not as good luke warm ~ Don’t opt out of a challenge ~ It’s good to be nice to the other teams…at least externally ~ Slap bracelets are still fun ~ Spreadsheets were made to be updated…annnnnd sometimes not ~It’s good to stop and enjoy the view along the way ~ If you’ve got enough energy left to throw a tantrum, you obviously didn’t run hard enough ~ Don’t leave the M&M’s next to the heater ~ Things don’t always go the way you plan, sometimes you have to adapt ~ Personify awesomeness ~ How fast you make the climb is not nearly as important as who is waiting for you when you get to the top!

Craig~Jan~ Jordan~Ken~Lindsey~Mark~Matt~Nate O~Nathan A…Smokin’ Aces 2012

Smokin' Aces

Smokin’ Aces

Nicole and LJ...couple of Badass Divas.

Nicole and LJ…couple of Badass Divas.

LJ and Notarious A...who is mysteriously missing from the Smokin Aces group shot.  Classic.

LJ and Notarious A…who is mysteriously missing from the Smokin Aces group shot. Classic.

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14…No, wait, make that 15 Miles of complete randomness…

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Yesterday morning as I sat in my SUV, trying to motivate myself to get out of it’s warmth and go run 14 miles, I procrastinated a little bit.  I’m going to share a text conversation I was having in those moments. Due to the nature of part of the conversation, some names may have been changed to protect the other party involved.  So, for the sake of anonymity, let’s call him, ummmm, Mick.

RRG: Soooo, I’m gonna need some details on this new girl at some point. 😉

Mick: Haha. In good time. 🙂

RRG: So mysterious.  C’mon, it’s just me…  Just kidding, but we need to catch up soon.  I’m off to run 14.  Laters…

Mick: Definitely!  Have a great run!

RRG: Thanks.  I am so not excited about this right now.

Mick: You’ll be excited about it after you PR at Vancouver.

RRG: Right on.

Alright Linds, let’s do this! Remember, it’s not about pace, it’s just about logging the miles.  Nice and easy.  14 miles.  Take ‘em one at a time.  Here we go…

Mick was right, getting up on a Saturday to go run 14 in the cold IS going to be worth it when I cross that finish line in Vancouver.  Which, by the way, Steve still has not given me the hotel info.  But yeah, that’s gonna be a fantastic weekend.  And I’m gonna rock it out on that course.

I probably shouldn’t have had that extra Blue Moon last night, but what are ya gonna do?  At least there was an orange slice in it.

Boy, people are really friendly in Forest Park today.  Everyone is so smiley.  Good Morning, happy chick. Did that guy just wink at me?!  I wonder why everyone is so…Oh, wait, I’m doing it again.  That thing I do, when I’m running and I have a big dorky smile on my face, cause I’m just happy to be running.  I’m a geek.  But whatevs…Hey there smiley people of Forest Park, it’s a good morning!  Chilly, but good.  The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and it’s so flipping cold I can’t feel my nose.  This wind has some serious bite to it.  I am soooo jealous of all my friends that are running races in warm weather this weekend.  Austin, Pasadena…yeah, St. Louis in February just isn’t quite cutting it today.

My achilles is acting up, I wonder what that’s about.  That’s one area I don’t usually have trouble with, so that’s kinda weird…

I am so not looking forward to meeting with the accountant later.  Can’t I just live in denial and not deal with the whole tax return nightmare? This whole thing has me completely freaking out.  I can’t think of anything I like less than taxes…

HEYHEY, Chick in the Michigan sweatshirt, WHAT UP?!  Did you see the way my Spartans gave your wolverines a beat down the other night?  Oh yeah, that was awesomeness.

I think that guy is wearing the red NB jacket we sell at that store.  Oooh, he’s cute.  And he’s smiling at me.  That’s right, cute boy, smile away.  How you doin’?

Yeah, Nicky Minaj…And to my core fans, keep reppin’ me, do it to the death of me, X in the box, cause ain’t nobody checkin’ me.

I like that girl’s tights, but Oh, Sister, the Pegasus is so not the shoe for you.  You really need a nice Structure Triax.  Ouch.

Awwww, good memories.  I remember running down this hill with Jess the night we did our impromptu Forest Park run.  That was a good time, especially since I didn’t kill us cutting across 3 lanes of 64/40 to exit at the last second, oops. Dang, I miiiiiiissssssss that girrrrrrrl.

Oooh, it’s the cute boy in red again.  Hi cute boy.

One loop around the park almost done.  Should I stop for water now?  Nah, I’m gonna knock out a little more of this, I feel pretty good.

Good old Steinberg skating rink.  I can’t believe I agreed to go ice skating tonight.  That’s gonna be interesting.  When was the last time I was on ice skates?  I think it was back in Chicago with Ally’s girl scout troop…so, 2008?!

Oh my, Lord, forgive me for saying this but that girl should NOT be wearing those pants.  Yikes.

Alrighty, time for a break.  Pomegranate sports beans, water, check the phone.  8 text messages!  What’s happening here?!  Scroll, scroll, scroll…I’ll respond to most of this later.  Quick Facebook check…I’m getting chilly, time to get back at it and finish these last 5.5 miles.

Oh, look at the really fast girl running with those boys up there.  I want to be like her…oh, wait, I KNOW her.  That’s Marxkors!  I really DO want to be like her (See blog post titled My Secret Girl Crush).  I know ALL those people…its Seth Fagan and Jake Goldsborough.  Umm, this isn’t facebook Linds, you probably don’t need to use their full names.

“Hey, are you guys gonna wait up for the slow girl?”

Seriously, did I not just say in a blog post on Monday, that Marxkors and I can randomly run into each other anywhere, but planning things just doesn’t work for us.

(I’m not one to slow people down, and I know my limitations, so I sent them on ahead after a little less than a mile.  But thanks for letting me hang with you guys for ¾ of a mile or so.  Seth later informed me that he could tell I was struggling to keep up when I was giving him one word answers to his questions. He’s right, I just don’t ever do that.)

And now back to my nice slow settled pace. ..

Yikes!  Why is that guy wearing a neon orange Jason style hockey mask?!  Speed up to get by him quickly.  It’s a good thing it’s the middle of the day, otherwise seeing that guy in Forest Park, especially if it was getting dark out, might be really creepy.

Oh, geez, Pegasus girl is back.  Ugh, it is seriously killing me to watch her run in those shoes.  This is one of those times I wish I had a business card from the store to hand over to her.

More than 14 miles done and there’s the car.  I’m at 14.81…I can’t stop here, I might as well just round it up and make it an even 15.

Funny, I’m going to finish this run listening to the same song that was playing when I started…

I’m gonna live like there’s no tomorrow, Love like I’m on borrowed time, It’s good to be alive…

Yep, it sure is.

 

AHHHHH! There are dinosaurs invading Forest Park!

AHHHHH! There are dinosaurs invading Forest Park!

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Yeah, I Run Like a Girl…

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In honor of Ally’s birthday yesterday, I’m gonna have a proud mom moment and brag on my girl for a sec.

Last week, Ally jumped in the car super excited after school one day.  “Hey Mom, we ran a mile in PE today and guess what?”

I paused in anticipation…

“I was the fastest girl in the 4th and the 5th grade.  I even beat 2 boys! “

That’s my girl.

There’s something about winning, and competition, that lights a fire in us.  We get to prove how strong we are.  And I don’t know what it is, but you can ask any girl anywhere, and I’m pretty sure she’ll tell you that no matter how old we get, there is something really awesome about beating a boy.  It’s an innate thing we’re born with.  Men are built to be faster than we are, it’s scientific fact.  But since we have been labeled the “weaker sex”, it feels pretty darn good to prove that sometimes, we are stronger than you guys. That’s why I love the running shirt that I bought at some race Expo somewhere, that reads…Yeah, I run like a girl, try to keep up.

I’ve been hurt by a fair amount of boys in my life.  Including, but not limited to, that jerk football player in high school, who shall remain nameless, that made fun of me for not being as pretty as Ellen Halverson.  Whether intentional or not, some hurts are more significant than others.  I’ve had some pretty extreme hurts that are WAY more significant that what Mr. Football said to me as I stood there in my cheerleading outfit feeling deflated that fall afternoon in 1992. But, he had no way of knowing that what he said to me grew a seed of doubt that had already been planted in my mind at a young age – a belief that I was unlovable, unworthy, forgettable.  So, anyway, maybe that need to prove how strong I am, especially in the face of the opposite sex, is a self-preservation thing.  But the reality is, no matter how hard I try to prove myself as some fearless, badass chick, that’s all just exterior.  Inside, I’m just a girl with a bruised heart, who tries to pick up the pieces and keep on going.  But, really, that pretty much just makes me like everybody else, doesn’t it?

Ok, so I’m not as pretty as Ellen, I’ll be the first to admit the girl has always been gorgeous.  But I’m me.  And I’ll create beautiful in my own way.  I’ve got a big heart, with a huge capacity to love, despite all the trauma my heart has been through…that’s beautiful.  (I think the fact that I’m surrounded by so many Ahhhhh-mazing friends and family is proof of that.) I have a lot of faults; like, I bite my nails and I’m a terrible driver.  But I have a lot of good qualities too, like I accept responsibility for my mistakes and I possess a determination to always improve.  I’m never going to be perfect, but I’m also never going to stop challenging myself to do better.  I’m a fighter…that’s beautiful.  I talk too loud and I can admittedly be inappropriate sometimes but I’m honest and I’m genuine.  And I won’t pretend to be something I’m not…that’s beautiful.  Most importantly, I love to smile and I love to make other people smile. There is nothing better than seeing the reflection of my own smile on the faces of my children.  I think there is a quote about a smiling girl being a beautiful girl, or something like that.  So, there ya go.   I’ll speak truth through the madness and I’ll smile through my tears, and even though I may have puffy eyes and mascara stains on my face, I’m going to teach my daughter that she is loveable, worthy and unforgettable.  I’m going to teach her that just being who she is, is enough.  I’m going to teach her what true beauty looks like.  Beauty isn’t about being the skinniest or having perfect hair, it’s about knowing who I am, and being happy in that.  Running makes me confident; confidence is beautiful.  Beauty isn’t about how other people see you, but rather, how you see yourself. Beauty is about finding strength from within to combat the forces against us.  Beauty is about learning from our pain and celebrating our victories…especially if those victories include beating a boy.  😉

Ally and I at the Sunshyne Run and Worship in LA, Oct 2012

Ally and I at the Sunshyne Run and Worship in LA, Oct 2012

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Why I Run

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Yesterday I got an email from my absolute best friend in the entire world.  We used to talk on the phone religiously every day.  Then we became moms.  Then, we both became moms of 3 in different time zones.  Now, we have been relegated to the hopes of catching a weekly call and commenting on each other’s facebook posts as our primary means of communication.  I’ve known Britta since college.  She very randomly came into my life through an ad that, much to my chagrin, my mom placed in the MSU newspaper, the State News.  I was looking for a roommate to replace a couple girls that backed out last minute and I was not happy about the situation.  However, I’m a firm believer in “Everything happens for a reason” and now I can’t imagine my life without Britta in it (Thanks Mom!).  I have known B for half of my life and we have been through just about everything together.  We have celebrated marriages and births. She has made me laugh to the point of tears countless times.  We have cried together through many of life’s heartaches, like death and divorce and health struggles, you name it.  Once, I was rescued off a mountain in South Africa with her husband, Dave (there was even a helicopter involved) and she pretty much just laughed at us.  Britta has stood by me like no other individual I know, so it’s almost ridiculous that we have never, not once, ever competed in any kind of athletic event together.

So, yesterday, I got an email from her, that was also addressed to a few other mom friends.  The basis of the email was that she has noticed that the “Moms of 3 club” has found running marathons a popular past time and she is now contemplating this pursuit for herself. Before she takes the big plunge (which is funny because she is a swimmer by nature), she wanted some answers.  Her big question was…Why do you run?  My mind started racing, words jumping out, flying around in my head, but I needed to process that question before I formulated a response.  Why do I run? I get asked that question all the time.  I mean, I work at a running store, so I really get asked that question ALL the time.  But usually, I give a generic answer like, “I just love it.”  I do love to run, it makes me happy.  But why?  So, I thought about it.

Here is the list of reasons I came up with to answer the question “why do I run?”…

  • Serenity.  Solitude. Alone time!  As a working mom of 3, I am around people pretty much all the time.  So, when I go run, I get to be alooooone.  I can think about the things that are weighing me down or I can put on my ipod and veg out.  It’s delightful.
  • Stress relief.  Sanity. See above.  But additionally, if I’m having a bad day or I’m feeling especially overwhelmed about something, I go run and just a few steps in, I instantaneously feel better.  It’s almost impossible to hold on to negative feelings when you exercise.  There is nothing that makes me a happier person than working up a good sweat.  And my kids like me a whole lot better when I’ve had a healthy dose of endorphins, too.
  • Strength.  I can’t think of anything that makes me feel stronger or more powerful than running.  It makes me feel like I can take on anything.  I love to challenge myself to go farther or faster.  Pushing myself and rising to the occasion of a challenge, makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.  And it makes me feel energized!  It builds confidence in me and in my character.
  • So I can eat whatever I want.  I like food.  Scratch that.  I LOVE food.  I love all food.  I am a Chicagoan pizza snob.  I am an ice cream connoisseur.  I like Italian and Sushi and Mexican and a big, juicy burger with fries, lots of fries!  Besides, carrots, there really isn’t much I won’t eat.  Yeah, I know, we’ve already established that I’m weird.  Anyway, I run and workout, so that I can treat myself.  I don’t believe in depriving myself but rather “everything in moderation”.  I try not to over-do it, but every now and then I have an epic fail and I over indulge.  So, I’ll go run an extra mile…or 12.
  • Camaraderie. (You thought they were all going to start with “S”, didn’t you?)  Typically I like to run to be alone.  But running bonds people.  Just like any other aspect in life, commonality brings people together.  I have found some pretty fantastic friends through running.  And being a part of the Smokin’ Aces relay team for SMR 2012 was one of the best experiences of my life.  We encourage each other, we cheer each other on, we help each other by pushing one another to be better.  We don’t always need words, sometimes we just need to know that someone is right there with us, keeping pace, and pulling us to the finish.
  • Nature.  I love running in all different types of weather and all different venues.  But I never get tired of a beautiful sunrise, seeing dolphins swimming in the ocean, hearing the birds, the sun shining down on me, leaving tracks in the snow, the crunch of leaves under my feet, seeing deer in the woods.  We live in a big, amazing world.  Why wouldn’t I want to get out and enjoy it?
  • Heart health.  I have a family history of heart disease.  My dad’s heart attack at only 59 years old, still allowed him to outlive his own father by 15 years.  I never had the pleasure of knowing my grandpa Wayne because he died after just 44 years on this earth, also of a sudden heart attack.  Running is so good for the cardio-vascular.  I’m happy to report that I am in the top 5% of the heart healthiest people in the US (then again, that might not be saying much).  I’m also proud to say that I had a test done not long ago to find out my “Body Age”.  My result said that I have the body of a 24 year old.  Not bad for 37 years old and 3 rounds of childbirth!

So, there you have it.  I love to run for a variety of reasons.  On any given day, the reasons might differ.  And on some days, I don’t love to run.  I just do it, cause I know I’ll feel better after I do.

I don’t know if Britta is going to decide to run a marathon or not.  I have no doubt in my mind that she is capable. I believe she would be outstanding if only her knees hold out.  She comes from a family of many knee replacements.  But this is what I do know…if she decides to go for it, I will be there for her in whatever capacity she asks. If she wants me to go away and not be the annoying, veteran, know it all marathoner, I will do that.  She has listened to endless stories about my races and running in general. There is a good chance this blog has saved our friendship by giving me another outlet for said stories.  But if she wants me to run the whole thing by her side, I will.  Or if she wants me cheer her on along the way and be at the finish line waiting, I will.  Either way, I would only be returning the favor.

Love you B.

My BFF (Britta) and I with her younger 2 bambinos, Elin and Noah.  That equals 1/3 of our combined children.

My BFF (Britta) and I with her younger 2 bambinos, Elin and Noah. That equals 1/3 of our combined children.

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My Secret Girl Crush

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This morning I got up way earlier than I wanted to in order to meet a friend for a run.  At 6am when my phone started beeping, buzzing and flashing the words “Get up and run your ass off!” I wanted to throw it out the window.  By the way, yes, that’s really what I named my alarm. Amy Marxkors is someone I can randomly run into 3 times in a week, but when we try to plan something, forget it.  It inevitably takes a month for us to actually work out our schedules.  Since we finally managed to arrange something, and since she’s pretty stinking cool, I managed to peel myself from the comfort of my nice warm bed.

This girl is amazing.  She can run a marathon in just over 3 hours. That’s more than a full minute per mile faster than I can.  I’m hoping some of her speed rubs off on me.  Here’s my confession-If I wasn’t myself, and I could pick one person in the world that I would choose to be, it would be Marxkors.  Lindsey quirk #2- I frequently refer to my girlfriends by their last names.  It started back when I was a rower at Michigan State.  Regardless of the fact that most of my teammates are married now, they will always be known to me as Worden, Bingham, Swartz, Cotter, Korth, Jewett and Shafer.  But I digress.  Marxkors is a complete goofball, a little bit of a diva and a total badass, all at the same time.  She is a hockey player, turned elite runner, and a world famous author to boot.  And she will likely be mortified that I’ve said all of this about her.  Hypothetically speaking, if I was to have a secret girl crush…yeah, you guessed it…Marxkors.  Hypothetically, of course.

Our running topics of conversation today ran the gamut (pun totally intended) of my weird twitching eye/muscle spasm thing that’s been ongoing for several days, to her pus oozing knee injury inflicted by black ice on New Year’s Day, to why you can’t base your idea of someone’s attractiveness  off of Facebook pictures because let’s be real-photos do sometimes lie. Ultimately, though, the most meaningful topic of the day was healing.  Marxkors had a really cool analogy about recovering from a hurting heart that, not surprisingly, related to running.  We’re runners.  Somehow we find a way to bring everything back to running.  But this was seriously really cool, and I have continued to mull it over in my mind all day.  We were talking about relationships, and healing, and where I’m at with all of that after a failed marriage.  And she said something to the effect of a broken relationship being a wound that takes a toll on your body, your heart.  In the same way, a marathon takes a major toll. A marathon requires recovery time as well. Here’s this thing that you have poured your heart and soul and all of your energy into. You put in a lot of time to train for it. Whether it went well or not, you made an attempt.  When it’s over, you can’t just jump in and start training for another one the very next day. You have to give yourself some time.  And just because you’re in the recovery period, doesn’t mean you’re not doing anything.  Recovery is part of the process to get ready for the next event. You rest. You let your muscles repair themselves. You heal.  You slowly get back to running, you just don’t run at the same level of intensity right out of the gate.   Eventually you start training again, but you start with 4 miles, not 20. It’s a long slow process, but eventually, you’re ready to try it again.

I have cried at the finish line of every marathon I’ve run.  Sometimes that just means getting a little choked up, other times it’s an all out bawl fest, complete with the ugly cry. I might cry because it went better than expected, or because I’m just glad that it’s over with, or there might be some specific, symbolic gesture involved with a particular race.  But after completing something of that magnitude that I have thrown my whole self into, I am physically and emotionally spent, and I need to release it.  And then, I need to heal and learn what I can from it.

About a year ago, Marxkors helped me with an essay that I wrote for a submission to a contest, so I feel it’s only appropriate to include the last line from that piece.  It reads… Just like everything else in life, it’s really not about the destination; it’s about how you push through all the obstacles you face and what you learn along the way.

It’s true.  How we face the obstacles we face is what makes us who we are. Whether the obstacle is running a marathon on a sprained ankle, attacking a fear of being vulnerable with the mentality of “wearing your heart on your sleeve”, conquering a fear of swimming to compete in a Half-Ironman, or starting to live life differently at 37 years old; the question is…what am I going to do with it?  Am I going to let my fears and my failures define me, destroy me or strengthen me?  It’s a choice that only I can make for myself.  My experiences make me who I am, I can’t deny that.  However, Friedrich Nietzsche knew what he was talking about when he said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” So, I choose strength.  But I’m so grateful for all the people who have been there, standing on the sidelines, cheering me on.

Marxkors, RRG, Nicole and Seth at the Gumbo Flats 5K.  All 4 of us took home an age group award...What Up?!

Marxkors, RRG, Nicole and Seth at the Gumbo Flats 5K. All 4 of us took home an age group award…What Up?!

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