Monthly Archives: April 2013

The One About the Dove Commercial

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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…

http://realbeautysketches.dove.us/

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.

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Epic Wipeout

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I’ve been having a hard time finding my groove this week.

After the Smokin Aces’ outstanding repeat performance of a 2nd place finish at the Smoky Mountain Relay last weekend, I re-entered reality on Monday, and I came crashing down from my high.  I awoke Monday with a sinus infection and an overwhelming “To do” list.

If you are an avid Seinfeld watcher, such as I, you may remember the episode where Jason Alexander proclaimed the Summer of George.  At the end of March, I declared that April would be the Summer of Lindsey.  I had a fair amount on the calendar this month so I decided that any stretch of time that I didn’t have work, or kids, or whatever, was going to be about taking care of me.  However, as April has worn on, somehow I inadvertently defaulted to my people pleasing ways and have tried to be all things to all people, which has left me in a somewhat stressed and miserable state as I’ve felt that I just can’t measure up.  All of this eventually led me to throw a rather large pity party for myself as I started to wonder “But who’s going to take care of ME?!”  Ok, I’ll stop my whining.  For now.  Needless to say, April has not gone according to plan.  It has not been the Summer of Lindsey, but more like the Summer of Stress.  And it’s not even summer, it’s still flipping cold!

Through the course of the week, I’ve been managing to get through all the activities, the projects, the child-care debacles, and working my way through that list. I even threw a trip to the clinic into the mix to get some antibiotics.  Sometime during the week, I think it was on Tuesday, I recall seeing a Facebook status update by my friend, Luke Hoffman that read, “Just going to go for a run.  That fixes everything, right?” Well, running can’t exactly pay the bills…or, I guess in my case it sort of can, but it can’t sit down and actually write the checks, which was one of the things on my very long list.  But Luke has a point.  Just like every other runner I know, whenever I start feeling overwhelmed and stressed, I need my daily dose of endorphins.  So, Tuesday night, I went out for a run…in the rain.  It was a cold, but puddle-stomping good time with friends.  We were soaked to the skin.  That was supposed to fix everything, but instead, now here I sit, still fighting a sinus infection with a marathon only 8 days away.  Maybe that wasn’t the best idea.

On Thursday, I lead the social run.  I started out with Gerry, who was chugging along at my laboriously slow pace (You need to understand, this guy is fast.  I mean really fast.  So for him to run my pace under any circumstances is painful.)  I told him that I was sick and slow, so he didn’t need to hang with me.  He didn’t.  He took off and soon he was nothing more than a dot to me.  But as runners, we all understand the need to run our own pace.  As I ran, I started to feel surprisingly better.  I picked up my pace.  I got faster.  I negative split.  And by the time all was said and done, what started as an 8:40/mi pace, ended up with my last mile at a 7:20.  Over my 5 miles, I averaged about 8:00/mi and I felt good.  Really good.  But about an hour later, I was exhausted.  I had used up all I had.  I think it’s pretty clear my body is telling me to take it easy and rest up for next weekend.

So, today, I decided to “take it easy” with a nice bike ride at Forest Park with my friend Nikki.  After work, we kicked off the weekend with a couple loops around the park.  It was chilly, but it was a good ride and nice way to give my joints a break.  Or so I thought.  Until we were cruising down Skinker, going along at a pretty good clip and then out of nowhere I had a totally epic wipeout.  It was an impressive display. Seriously, it was stunningly beautiful.  I don’t think anyone could re-enact it if they tried.  It happened so fast, that neither one of us saw it coming.  Just as it started to happen, I had exactly enough time to realize I was going down.  Fast.  And I could do it up ahead where there was gravel and asphalt.  Or I could do it right where I was, in the grass.  And at precisely that second, I hit the ground.  As soon as the shock wore off, I happily realized that nothing was broken, or at least nothing that I need to run a marathon next week. I briefly considered the possibility that I had dislocated a finger, but since I’m able to type with just minimal pain, I think it’s probably only a mild sprain. Then, I spent the next several minutes lying on the ground laughing hysterically.  Ya know when you’re laughing so hard that no sound is coming out?  Yeah, like that.  If you can’t laugh at yourself, what can you really do?  And I’m quite sure anyone who happened to be on Skinker Avenue at approximately 5:40pm today, is probably still telling the story of what they witnessed.

Life is the same way, isn’t it?  We can be skipping right along thinking everything is hunky dory, and then suddenly we’re screaming, “Mayday! Mayday!  Man down!”  This week humbled me.  I was slapped in the face with how hard it is to be a working, single mom who trains for endurance sports and doesn’t like to let people down.  I’ve taken on too much and I’ve started to slip.  The quality in my performance is lacking because I’ve got too much running through my brain.

But that’s what is so great about my AITA tumble this afternoon.  I was going along, too fast, not paying attention, but when catastrophe struck  I was able to laugh about it and then pick myself up and keep right on going.  Granted I had to dislodge about a square foot of soil from my cycling shoes first, but the point is, I got right back in the saddle.  But I slowed down and started thinking about the good things that came out of this week.  Quality time with my kids.  Running with friends.  A laugh with Nikki that has now bonded us forever since she was the one and only person who will be able to use her eye-witness account of what occurred today to keep me grounded when I get too cocky.

Sometimes life just hands you a good old-fashioned face plant.  So, what are you gonna do about it?

As for me, I think for the next week I’ll stick to running.  Cause just like Luke said, that fixes everything.  Or, at least it will hopefully keep me from stitches, broken bones and potential hospitalization until I get through this marathon.

Rick and I after social run on Thursday.  He tried to hold me off, but I blew past him in that last mile.

Rick and I after social run on Thursday. He tried to hold me off, but I blew past him in that last mile.

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A Letter to My Teammates

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To my dearest Smokin’ Aces (aka, Baywatch, Bugs, Buttons, Dropbox, DTH, Mad Hatter, the Minimalist, Ray, Secret Weapon, Sexecutioner and Thumper):

As soon as I started unpacking tonight, my emotions got the best of me and my tear fest began.  We’ve all expressed what a fabulous weekend it was.  Despite a total deluge at the Start that lasted into the first few legs of our race, several navigational mishaps and many misadventures along the way, eventually the skies cleared and we ultimately took 2nd overall. We shared lots of laughs, made some new friends and created many memories.  But what some of you may, or may not, know about me is that I need this race.  I need the Smoky Mountain Relay, like I need to breathe.  Last year I needed SMR for a host of different reasons than why I needed it now, but I need it none the less.

Last year I needed this race to learn about confidence in myself and in other people.  This year I needed SMR to be reminded of just how far I’ve come in doing that. I needed to see for myself that I am not the same person who ran in the Smoky Mountains a year ago. Thank you, Aces, from the bottom of my heart, to each and every one of you, for being a part of that.

Smoky Mountain Relay, Then & Now:

This year I only ran 3 legs, versus 4 last year, because we were a full team of 12.  I had to wait what felt like an eternity to run my first leg, in the dark, which is a stretch that I ran last year during sunset.  We can blame poor navigation, resulting in a late arrival to the starting line, for that one.  This year, Leg 11, was about setting the tone for a new race in 2013.  It was about leaving last year where it belongs, behind me.  This was a whole new race.  And I was amped!

Leg 19 hasn’t changed a lick in the past year.  Except maybe it got harder, if that’s possible.  It’s still steep, rocky, and run in the pitch blackness of a Smoky Mountain night.  But something has changed since a year ago…Me.  Last year I ran Leg 19 thinking I had something to prove.  This year I ran Leg 19, because I knew I could.  I believed in my own abilities.  Like I kept saying all weekend, “We all have our strengths.  I know mine.”  Today in the car, Ken was saying how I have an ability that is unlike most people.  If you put me up against any of those super-fast guys on the road, they’ll smoke me; but put me up against any of those guys on Leg 19 and that margin decreases significantly.  Hills level the playing field, thus my nickname.  Last year, as I climbed Leg 19, I ran into mist and fog, which was symbolic of how unclear everything was in my life.  This year, as I climbed, the stars were bright and beautiful, just like the still unknown future that I know lies ahead of me.  This year I did that crazy hard climb 5 minutes faster than I did it last year, I’m not even sure how that happened other than knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I am a stronger person than I was a year ago.  Ironically, the song playing on my ipod as I reached the top, with legs so fatigued I had to be practically carried to the van, was Alicia Keys’ Brand New Me.

I asked everyone last night at the house, what their favorite leg was that they ran this year.  However, I didn’t answer my own question.  34.  Without a doubt.  I’d be willing to say that leg 34 is even harder than 19, or maybe it just feels that way to me after running both.  But I don’t yet know SMR any other way.  Leg 34 has an elevation change very similar to that of 19’s 2400 foot incline, but it’s over the course of slightly more than a mile, rather than 5.5 miles, leading me to believe that it’s close to a 20% grade up gravel and trail and leaves and roots.  After the hard part was done, my legs were trashed and my Garmin died shortly thereafter.  That’s when the fun started.  Last year, I questioned where I was going every step of that leg.  This year, I knew exactly where I was headed. I even got to point another runner in the right direction, just before I left him in the dust. Last year, I ran the steep downhill switchbacks feeling fearful and totally out of control, which mimicked my life at that point.  This year, I ran with a smile on my face, feeling free and loving the momentum.  Stretches of 34 were longer than I remember, but I loved every second of it, particularly running beside a bubbling brook that I eventually got to cross.  Last year, I got completely lost on Leg 34, adding over a mile to my route.  This year, I trusted my directions, trusted myself and stayed the course. Last year when Ken showed up to help drag my butt out of the woods I was surprised to see him and I didn’t think I’d even make it to the end.  This year, Ken and Craig were waiting right where I expected them to be to run me out of the woods.  I couldn’t have been happier to see them, not because I needed help, but to share that part of the leg with my friends, and I smiled as I yelled, “Let’s go, Boys.” Ken still had to help pull me up the last hill because my legs were so wasted, but unlike last year I accepted help happily, rather than feeling totally demoralized for needing it.  Friends help each other, it’s just what they do.

Next year, I’m looking forward to turning Leg 34 over to Ken and trying out some new parts of the 214 mile course.  But rest assured, I’ll still be crazy enough to tackle Leg 19 again.

With all of my reflections on the Smoky Mountain Relay, this letter doesn’t begin to cover all that we had to laugh about, most of which is not even appropriate to share in this forum.  It’s interesting how runners can take something completely innocent, turn it around to be totally inappropriate and find it side-splittingly hilarious.  Some things just never get old. We laughed about day old sandwiches, French Press coffee, timely birthday cards, Poops McGee and running serenades.  We bonded by saving each other from Lymes disease, discussing the qualities of a good boyfriend, fending off the stench of Ken’s feet and sharing visors.  Just in case anyone missed that, yes, I have a thing for guys in visors.  Just call it one of my many quirks.

This morning, as we headed toward home with the sun coming up over the mountains, Ken’s playlist filled the van with Paul McCartney’s Blackbird.  “Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly, All your life you were only waiting for this moment to arise…” This is the moment I’ve been waiting for, and all of the Aces, past and present, are secure in my heart forever for being a part of it.

I think the theme of the weekend came when, in reference to what was happening in Boston, Alamar said it best, “Choose to love, People”.  Yeah, I choose love.

Xoxo,

Hills

Smokin Aces 2013

Smokin Aces 2013

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Camaraderie

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As you are probably all well aware, especially if you follow RRG on a regular basis, tomorrow morning I will leave for the Smoky Mountain Relay.  I should probably start packing, but instead, here I sit with my coffee and my laptop.  Alas, I am a procrastinator.  At 10 am tomorrow, I will join with 4 of my teammates at the Starbucks in Chesterfield valley, to embark on our epic road trip from St. Louis through Paducah and on to the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina.  Feel free to swing by Starbucks as we depart to offer words of encouragement…or to send us off with coffee.  Either way is fine really.

In the aftermath of what happened on Monday in Boston, I can think of nothing I would rather do this weekend, than join with this ahhhh-mazing group of people to run an awesome race.  The camaraderie of a relay is really like no other running event I know.  It’s odd to think that running a race where you might not see another living soul while you’re out there getting through your assigned leg would provide camaraderie, but I assure you, it does.  You might spend many hours sleeping during your “race”, but still, you feel the camaraderie.  Chances are, by the end of the race, no one will want to be within 25 feet of you, but it’s really nothing personal, you just stink.

In all seriousness, this weekend is going to be intense.  The raw emotion that was evoked from the devastation in Boston, also brings out the best in humanity, and that is what truly bonds us together.  That is camaraderie.

Let me tell you a few stories about last year’s race.  In the middle of the night, in a dark church parking lot, Nathan made me luke warm ramen noodles to get me ready for an upcoming leg.  As I ran up a mountain on said leg, my team stopped and waited for me to cheer me on and give me Gatorade as I trekked upward in the pitch dark.  When I was literally lost in the woods on my last leg, Ken came into the woods to find me and at one point was actually pushing me up the hill when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore.  But, camaraderie is not just about noodles and Gatorade.  And sometimes with camaraderie, you don’t have anyone right there next to you, you just have to trust that they are supporting you from afar.

I’m sure everyone on the course in Boston felt the camaraderie of their fellow runners right up until the blasts put a stop to Monday’s celebration.  But what the blaster didn’t anticipate is that those explosions, rather that halting camaraderie, ignited that part of the human spirit that takes camaraderie to a whole new level.  The way people ran in to help the injured.  The stories of Boston residents coming out of their homes to provide for the basic needs of stranded runners. Strangers sharing cell phones to try and locate loved ones.  I even read a story of a man who put his medal around the neck of a runner who was stopped just short of the finish because, honestly, we all know that every person who ran even a portion of the Boston Marathon on 4/15 was a finisher in the eyes of the running community.

None of my Smokin Aces teammates were in Boston, but we all knew people who were there in some capacity and you can be very sure we are planning to let everyone in the NC mountains know that we are running this weekend to honor Boston, just as I am sure most of the other teams will be doing as well.  It may not be much, but it’s what we can do.  Armbands, graffiti on the van, a moment of silence at the start.  Anything little thing to remind the rest of the world about what camaraderie looks like, just helps to unite us all against the horrible, hateful crimes that keep occurring way too frequently.

This Friday and Saturday we will be running to stand together as a united front against fear and violence.  We will be running to honor those who have fallen, those who lived through a nightmare, and those who ran to help.  We will be running to ensure that cowards who try to tear down the human spirit will not win.  We will be running because we are grateful that we can.  We will be running to remember what camaraderie looks like.  But mostly, we will be running just to remember.

This is Rambling Runner Girl, signing off, until we meet again on the other side of the Smokies…

For Boston...

For Boston…

 

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Boston 4/15/13 and Running in Red Riders

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I had a post all set to load earlier before I went into work, but I ran out of time.  In light of today’s events, I feel like there are a few other things I need to say instead.

Wow.  Just wow.  Happiness is walking into work and finding a free pair of brand new, bright blue Nike Free 3.0 waiting for you.  Heartbreak is having a customer walk in a few minutes later and ask if you heard about the explosion at the finish line of the biggest running event in the world, which resulted in deaths and injuries of runners and spectators.  Tragic. Absolutely devastating.

I’m grateful to report that I have, in some form or another, heard from everyone I know that was running today when the explosion occurred at the end of the Boston Marathon.

I still don’t know very many of the details, but here is what I do know.  This sucks.  The fact that anything as glorious as the Boston Marathon and all that it stands for is now tarnished by this tragedy is absolutely horrible.  We all know that I’m a crier, and just because I was at work all afternoon/evening, doesn’t change that fact.  Every post I read, every story I heard, all brought more tears.  My friend Flavia posted this: And just when you think it can’t get any worse…Relatives of Sandy Hook Massacre victims were VIP guests at the finish line tent, where the bombing occurred.  The theme of this year’s marathon was “26 Miles for 26 Victims.”  That might be the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.  Something that was meant to give hope, just re-victimized those people who have already suffered so much.

I can’t believe any of this.  I can’t fathom what it would be like to have the experience of living my dream of crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon, only to have that experience shattered by a bomb going off, and potentially losing a limb.  Not being able to run again.  Or worse, losing a loved one.

I tried to be there today.  When I went to Quebec in 2011, I went with the intention of qualifying for Boston and the possibility of being there today.  That marathon in Quebec is the one that got cancelled courtesy of Hurricane Irene.  Then I went to Dallas.  I ran the race of my life and fell just short of qualifying.  That would have gotten me to Boston today. I wanted to try again last year in Chicago, but I sprained an ankle 3 weeks out and I knew my hopes were shot.  My Smoky Mountain teammates might even remember me saying last year that this year I wanted to run Boston and then drive down to NC to run our relay 4 days later (That’s right, I leave for NC on Thursday and I’m sure we’ll come up with a way to honor the victims of Boston at SMR).  None of that had even occurred to me until I got this message from Jess: “Glad you weren’t at Boston this year!  God works in mysterious ways!!”  Oh my goodness, yes, I was desperately trying to be there this year, but something kept standing in my way.  Maybe its coincidence, but I believe it’s something bigger.  I always say that everything happens for a reason.  I know my time in Boston is coming, but now I’m so thankful it was not today.

Here is the message I have for the person or people who did this: You have tarnished something beautiful today.  You have grieved my heart and the hearts of my friends in the running community worldwide.  But we are not afraid to keep running and we will not let you steal our joy.  We will continue to do what we love and we will be united in that.

I can’t say it any better than what my friend Megan posted: It is the men and women running toward the chaos that bring hope…

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this horrible tragedy today. xoxo…

 

On a lighter note, if you feel so inclined, here is the piece I originally planned to post…

RUNNING IN RED RIDERS

I’ve been severely out of sorts this past week. Which explains why RRG has been uncharacteristically quiet. It’s a combination of a hormonal imbalance, a completely crazy ridiculous schedule with a bunch of random life interferences thrown in and a series of bad workouts.  But…I’m Back, Baby!  My mojo has been missing for a while, but I found it on Saturday.  I’m sure my Smoky Mountain Relay teammates will be happy to know that, seeing as our race starts THIS Friday!!!

Remember Dorothy’s ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz?  Well, here are my new ruby slippers…

RRG's Ruby Slippers

RRG’s Ruby Slippers

Red Mizuno Riders.  Dorothy was right, there is NO place like home.  I’m ashamed to say that my first marathon was completed in a pair of cheap, crappy, worn out shoes from Famous Footwear.  GAAAHHHH!  Did I really just admit that?!  It’s a miracle I didn’t get injured, and another miracle that I decided to do it all again.  6 more times and counting.  I treated myself to some “real” running shoes shortly after that first round with the Chicago marathon in 2001.  That was my very first pair of Mizunos.  I’ve been running mostly in Mizunos pretty much ever since, careful to replace them every six months or so, until last year, when I put myself in a pair of the Brooks Glycerin 10.  I love my Glycerins but a couple weeks ago I went out for a run at Babler and my shins were killing me.  My body was telling me it was time for new shoes.  One of the great things about working at a running store is that I have easy access to trying lots of different shoes.  And ultimately, I ended up right back where I belong, Mizunos, which just feel like…home.

If you read about my 20 miler last Monday, you know how awful that was.  On Thursday when I ran 6 with Nicole at Queeny, I was resisting the urge to puke the entire run.  Of course, that probably had something to do with the Chick-Fil-A I ate just an hour before.  We’ll chalk that up to a lesson learned the hard way. Then, later on Thursday I went off to lead the social run and ran 4 more miles with Nick.  I’m not sure which one of us was hurting more though, because at one point I felt like I was pulling him along, which doesn’t ev-errrr happen.   I topped out for 10 on the day, but none of those miles felt particularly good.

And swimming last week? Well, that was a total disaster.  I was having so much anxiety in my life that I already felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.  Not a good state to be in when you jump in the water.  I think I barely managed 500 meters and at one point I was so frustrated with myself I ended up at the end of the lane with my head on my arms, clinging to the side of the pool, sobbing.  Rambling Runner Girl turned into Crying Swimmer Girl.  Or as Steve said when I told him that story, “Lately you are Crying Everything Girl.”  Seems that way sometimes, doesn’t it?

So, after a rough week of workouts and life in general, it felt so good to go out for a run Saturday morning before work and feel like I was finally getting back to being the girl that I know I am.  I was also reflecting on the things that had gotten me down over the past week. Seeing how I got through all of that made me realize just how far I’ve come over the last year.

So, here’s the question:  Is it really all about the shoes?  Well, I work in a shoe store, so the obvious answer is Yes!  But it’s also about the person wearing the shoes and what they do with what they’ve got.  The shoes aren’t going to run themselves.  There are times where you just have to put on whatever shoes you can find and get the job done, but once you learn to do that, it makes it so much better when the shoes really fit.

During my run on Saturday, I was listening to the Rascal Flatts song Unstoppable.  “You find your faith has been lost and shaken, you take back what’s been taken, get on your knees and dig down deep, you can do what you think is impossible…”

Over the past several years, my faith was lost and shaken.  By that, I primarily mean my faith in myself.  But slowly I’ve been rebuilding that.  I am taking back what’s been taken.  It’s hard, and I’ve had to dig really deep, but I’ve been willing to do that and I’ve learned that I really can do what I used to think was impossible.

While I was out for that Saturday morning run, I felt like I was sliding effortlessly across the blacktop, kind of like I was flying, in my red Mizuno Riders and it made me think about something my friend Luke said to me a while back.  Luke is one of my best, best, best friends from High School.  Which means that, obviously, we’ve known each other for approximately…a very long time.  He has seen me conquer countless battles in life and he’s been there through a lot of heart aches. He was also my Homecoming date Senior year since nobody else wanted to take the weird girl who cries all the time and only talks about running. As things have finally started to fall into place with my life, I feel like I am finally getting my groove back and I told Luke that I felt like I was soaring.  His response was “Babe, you’ve always been soaring.  You just didn’t realize how high you could go!”

He’s absolutely right.  And I think it’s finally time for me to find out.

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Total Bonk

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Bonk.  We’ve all been there at one time or another.  Wikipedia describes “bonk” or “hitting the wall” as a condition that endurance athletes face when glycogen stores are depleted and this manifests as sudden fatigue.  I describe it as those moments when I’m running and I want nothing more than to lie down right where I am, with my cheek to the ground and never move ever again.  Not even if someone offered me a million dollars. But knowing that if I do cave to that temptation, I will lay there in the fetal position until wild animals come to drag off my rotting carcass.

Today I had to do a 20 mile training run.  Total bonk.  I knew by the time I reached the end of my driveway it was going to be rough.  My body was tired, I hadn’t carb loaded appropriately and it was hot.  Trust me, I am NOT complaining about the heat, I’m just sayin’.  It was a delightful change from what we have grown accustomed to this spring.  But my body hasn’t had time to adapt to the humidity.  Seriously, last week when I did 19, I was wearing gloves.  And today I had to stop at 4 different places to refill my water bottle.  Welcome to marathon training in the Midwest.

I tried everything to enjoy running today, but it just didn’t happen.  I listened to the words of each song on my ipod, hoping that something would inspire me.  But it seems that the line I heard at only a tenth of a mile in kept replaying over and over in my head.  “Life ain’t a track meet, it’s a marathon.”  I’m not even going to tell you what song that’s from because then I have to admit to the trashy, inappropriate music I listen to.  I’m sure some of you will google the lyrics out of sheer curiosity, don’t judge me.

When my Garmin beeped at mile 4, my body said, “Are you kidding me?!  We have to do that 4 more times?!”  My brain said, “Yep!  And we’re gonna be that much stronger for it.”

At the point where I finally got to turn around and head home, I celebrated, for about half a second, before I realized “Holy Schnikes!  I have to do it all again.”

With 3 miles left to go, I was like, “3 miles.  What’s the big deal?  That’s a 5k, we can whip that out no problem.”  Except for the fact that by that point, my pace had slowed nearly to a crawl and I began to wonder if I would even finish by dark.  (I started at approximately 10:30am)  I had eaten a pack of Cran-apple Gu Chomps, a Berry Blast Powerbar Gel and almost an entire package of watermelon Sports Beans.  And yet, my body felt depleted, drained and dead.

1.9 miles to go, I walked long enough to eat the last 4 sportsbeans.  Keep going.

Only .7 miles left, I stopped at Mobile on the run to fill up my waterbottle that was completely empty, again.  Could I have made it the rest of the way without more liquids? Probably, but I needed water (and a 30 second break) to boost my morale.

You know you’re tired when you think to yourself, “The faster you run, the sooner you’re done” but you just can’t make your body move any quicker.

I finished my 20 miler at the end of my street, but I wasn’t home yet, so I kept running, or shuffling rather, until I got to my house. 20.23 total miles for the day.  Ouch.  I hurt.

Sometimes when physical strength fails, we have to rely on mental toughness.  Mental toughness is when our brain convinces us to do something that we really, really don’t want to. My brain made my body keep moving when I really didn’t think I had the physical capability to keep going.  It’s important to listen to our bodies, if there is an injury or some logical reason to stop running, we should.  But “I’m tired” and “It’s hot”, those are not reasons.  We have to train our bodies to go farther and faster, and we have to train our brains to see through the excuses our bodies make when they hurt.  My brain got me through that run today.  My brain, and my heart.  I’ve said it many times, where I lack in ability and speed, I make up for it with determination and heart.  I know what I need to do and I get it done.  Today was no exception.

Just go one more mile.  Just get up this hill.  Just make it to that fire hydrant.  Just go one more step.  And another.  And another.  Some days are just like that.

On my way in to work this afternoon, armed with Ibuprofen, GU Brew Recovery and CEP sleeves, I got a phone call that I didn’t need to come in thanks to the Cardinals who  demanded the attention of the vast majority of West County St. Louis today.  Oh, Praise the Lord, I have never been so happy to live in St. Louis on the day of the home opener in the Lou.  So, what did I do?  I took the rest of the day off.  And I went to get a pedicure.  I think I earned it.  The best part?  The color I picked is called “It’s my year”.   Heck yeah it is.

So what else can I say about that brutal, painful, grueling 20 mile run today?  Two words: Bragging rights.

This is how RRG wrote today's post

This is how RRG wrote today’s post

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Stories You Didn’t Know About GO!

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Today I made a good decision.  It was a hard decision, but a good one.  Today was the GO! St. Louis marathon and half marathon.  I had the opportunity to run the half, and I wanted to.  I really wanted to.  If you’ve read many of my posts, you may have noticed that I love racing. This week I considered getting up before the sun to run the half this morning and then, literally, racing to work.  I thought about going out and doing it nice and easy, “for fun”.  But I know me.  I don’t do anything nice and easy.  I would have thrown myself into it, because that’s what I do, in pretty much every aspect of my life. What can I say?  I’m kind of passionate like that.

I’ve got so much adrenaline building for my two big upcoming races.  Between those, my failed racing attempt on St. Patrick’s Day, and a missed race in February….I would have gone out of the gates guns blazin’!  That would not have been smart.  So, this week as I mulled over the idea of racing today, I ultimately listened to my head and did the right thing.  I decided not to risk injury. I decided to save myself for MY races.  My day is coming, I just need to be patient (something I have a reeeeeeally hard time doing).

This blog is typically about my own personal running adventures, but this weekend I had so many friends racing that I have to share some stories.  These are some of the people who inspire me and push me to keep doing what I love…

My Smoky Mountain Relay teammates, Ken and Jordan didn’t run the GO!  They ran the Xenia Marathon in Ohio.  Ken had a huge PR of 3:15, placing 12th; Jordan ran 2:49 and took 3rd overall.

Barb Delgado ran the GO! Half in 1:32:55, taking home a 2nd place age group award.

Carl Bost finished his second marathon.  He has cut himself to half of his former size.  If he keeps running marathons, he might disappear.

Two years ago, John Tvrdic, didn’t understand my running addiction or how I could get up at the crack of dawn to log the long miles and now he has officially been bitten by the running bug.  How many Halfs is that now JT?  And when is the first full???

Lindsey Harris ran back to back half marathons this weekend, the Lincoln Half on Saturday and the GO! on Sunday.  Lindsey ran to let the past be the sound of her feet upon the ground.  Carry on, Girl, carry on…

Douang, whose comments are scattered all over the pages of my blog and I absolutely love her for it, ran her first half marathon today and I know she was thinking of the sweet baby she lost way too soon.

Courtney, Nicole, Wes, Kris, Teri, Tracy, Megan, Chris, Julie, Laura, Brian, Andrea, Rick, Adam and probably several others that I didn’t even realize were out there.  Some ran the half, some ran the full, some ran the relay as part of a team.  It wasn’t about the distance; it was about doing what unites us as runners.  And feeling like we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Speaking of being a part of something bigger…Chris Smaglis, Caleb Baldwin, John Hull, Katie Poland, Adrienne Beer and Judy West, along with so many others, ran to raise money for Team Living Water.  Living Water is an organization that provides wells for clean drinking water in communities all around the world.  But even more than that, they provide hope for the hopeless.  Saturday evening I sat in church with yellow jersies scattered throughout the room.  I was sitting next to Caleb; he was wearing his yellow jersey and a hat that had been signed by all the people who donated to Living Water through his efforts.  Caleb wore that hat while he raced today and now it will travel to the project that he ran for so the people who will receive water from this team will know some of the names of the people who sponsored them.

My dad always said, “Surround yourself with good people”.  It’s obvious that I have.  These are my friends.  I wouldn’t necessarily say they are always a good influence on me (ie-Nicole heckled me for my decision to practice self-control and not race today) But, like I said, these are the people who inspire me to keep doing what I love.  It’s not just about going out and winning.  It’s about pushing yourself to accomplish your own personal goals, whatever they might be.   There are so many reasons we race.  Ask any one of us on any given race day and chances are you’ll get a different answer.  Sometimes it’s about running for yourself, running to heal a hurt, running to remember someone, running to raise money for someone who needs something.  Sometimes we run just because we are so grateful that we can.

Tomorrow I have a 20 mile training run to do.  I won’t be physically surrounded by all of these people, I probably won’t even see anyone I know while I’m running.  But I know without a doubt, it will be thoughts of them, and the inspiration they are to me, that will be pulling me through each one of those 20 miles.

One way or another, next April I plan to listen to my heart and I hope to be rocking a yellow jersey of my own…

RRG logged 5 miles today while the GO! was GOing on...

RRG logged 5 miles today while the GO! was GOing on…

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Chasing My Shadow

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A couple weeks ago, my friend Amy Marxkors, wrote a piece about how you can’t run and cry at the same time.  I assure you, this is correct.  I speak from personal experience.  Personal experience as recently as this afternoon.

I’ve been having a rough week.  So rough in fact that when I met Faith for coffee this morning prior to opening the store, it didn’t take more than a minute or so after her walking in, and I was dissolved in tears in the front window of Starbucks as I shared my woes with my friend.

I managed to pull myself together eventually and put on my happy pants while I was at work, but as soon as the clock hit 2pm, I knew I needed to get my run on.  I needed to find me some hills.  Off to Babler I went for a quick 4 miles before I had to pick the kids up from school.  As I cruised down 109 towards one of my favorite running spots, the tears began to cruise down my face all over again.  I could hear Faith’s words from this morning ringing in my ears, “Lindsey, I know it’s hard, but you are so brave.”  I pulled into my usual parking spot by the statue, changed my shoes, threw on my visor and set out on my usual “bad day route” with mascara still streaking my face.  It didn’t take more than a step or two for me to figure out that crying was just not in the cards if I wanted to get this run in.

I’m sure curiosity is peaked…why had Rambling Runner Girl turned into Crying Runner Girl?  Well, I’ll tell you.  But first I have to ask the question, why is it so hard to say the word “No”?  It’s one of the first words we learn to say, right after Da, Ma, ball, dog and car. Sometimes even before some of those.  And toddlers use “No” more than any other word in their rapidly growing vocabulary.  Actually, so do some adults who act like toddlers.  “No” is universal in how many different languages?  And even cultures that use a different word for “No”, still clearly understand what it means.  We also have many different gestures to indicate “No”, some more appropriate than others.  But at what point, did it become so difficult for me to say No?

I’m a pleaser.  I like to make other people happy.  And I deeply take to heart other people’s feeling when I’m making a decision.  Especially when those people are my children.  But as a parent, sometimes it’s necessary to say “No” to things they want, or that other people want for them, because we have their best interest in mind.  We can’t please everyone all the time, so we really just have to do the best we can, to make the decision that we can live with at the end of the day.

A few weeks ago I was asked to make a decision about something regarding my kids.  I wrestled with it. I struggled.  I did my research.  I talked through it with the people closest to me.  Ultimately, I knew what my answer needed to be, but I knew it was going to be hard to say it.  Last night, I said it.  I exercised my right to say no.

This morning, I needed to hear Faith’s words, because I was doubting myself.  I didn’t feel brave.  But as she reminded me, I’m not the same person she met 2 years ago.  Now, I am brave.  Because to me being brave isn’t about being fearless.  Being brave means standing up to adversity and intimidation with conviction and fortitude.  Being brave means getting back up when I fall down.  Being brave means saying what I need to say whether I say it in a whisper or a shout or even if my voice is shaking.  I continued to let all of this sink into me as I embraced the rolling hills of Babler this afternoon.

By the end of my run, I noticed the graceful way my shadow seemed to glide across the asphalt, such smooth movements, almost like I was flying. It was actually kind of beautiful to watch.  It’s funny how I was working so hard to put one foot in front of the other, sweating, struggling, pushing myself to go harder but from a totally different perspective my counter-part appeared to be going along with such ease.  So there we were, two of me.  Which one was real?  Both actually.

It’s all a matter of perspective.  Sometimes we just need to step back and look at ourselves from another angle, because sometimes we see ourselves a little too closely.  So I will go on chasing my own shadow and I’ll try to remember that the “me” that is fighting to keep going is the same “me” that is graceful and courageous and strong.

Does this shadow make my butt look big?

Does this shadow make my butt look big?

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19 Miles, or something…

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Today was a weird day.  I ran 19 miles.  On a Tuesday. Who does that?  Well, I do.  Since I didn’t do a long run last weekend, and this was a rare Tuesday that I didn’t have my kids, I figured why not throw a long run in mid-week.  Of course, those 19 miles were basically all I did today.  I had every intention of getting to swimming this morning too, but when I got the email that practice was cancelled due to some bad water, I decided to roll over and go back to sleep.  Which was a fantastic idea in theory, except that my neighbors’ roofers didn’t approve of that plan.  I tried for a while, but eventually gave up and dragged my butt downstairs for some quality time on the couch with my book and a cup of coffee.  I did make a quick trip to the post office later to mail a letter, because yes, sometimes people actually still do that.  And I hit the grocery store since my kids come back to me tomorrow and I had almost nothing to feed them.  But other than that, all I can really say for today is 19 miles.

19 miles.  No rain.  No snow.  Again, weird.  It seems like so many of my long runs lately have been under the duress of less than ideal weather conditions.  However, I am very much looking forward to the days of not having to check the weather on my phone 15 times in making a decision on what to wear.  Will I be over-dressed?  Will I be under-dressed?  Any special accessories like tornado-proof shoes? These hovering cooler temps are getting really old.  I’m so ready to run in shorts and sleeveless all the time, and God help me, I will not complain about the heat this summer.

I started my run today by myself.  I like running by myself, so that’s no big deal.  But after 13.32 miles, I was definitely ready for some company.  Fortunately, I already had a group to meet.  We did a team outing for the new FLEET FEET that is getting ready to open in Des Peres later this month and we ran the social run course that I will have the shared privilege of leading every other week, just like I already do in Chesterfield.  I could not be more excited about it!  But, like I was saying after a little more than 13 miles on my own, the company was more than welcome.  We ran the 5 mile course, which is incredibly hilly, completely the opposite of the Chesterfield social run that is on the levee and flat as a pancake.  Mmmmm, pancakes…

After my solitary 13 through the hills of Wildwood, I was thrilled at the nice slow pace set by the 6 month pregnant chick and the injured dude.  The last time Adam and I ran together was a trail half marathon where he got injured.  We finished just seconds apart and he ended up with a 3rd place age group award, I got nothing.  How is that fair?!  Well, I guess it’s not exactly fair that he’s been injured either.

As we finished up the group run, I asked in my always too loud Lindsey voice, “Who wants to run this last .7 with me to round out my 19?!”  Not surprisingly, I didn’t have any takers.  They said, just run up the road to the bar, we’ll meet you there.  Which is exactly what I did.  And then I proceeded to throw down with a cheeseburger and fries like nobody’s business.  And a couple of Courtney’s hot wings.  Boy, some pancakes sure sound good right now…

Like I’ve already mentioned, it was a weird day.  There’s a season for everything right?  Sometimes we need to do things on our own and sometimes we need others to help pull us through.  I thought it was interesting that I finished those 19 miles alone, just as I had started.  But, that wasn’t the part about today that was ultimately so weird.  2 years ago today, I felt more alone than I ever have in my entire life.  I was at the absolute rockiest part of the bottom.  Things couldn’t get any worse.  I knew my marriage was over.  And the possibility loomed that my life was too.  I was telling a friend today about some of the stuff I was dealing with then, and in response to the question, “How do you even begin to let go of all that pain?” this is how I answered: You spend 29 days under a blanket wanting life to just go away, that’s rock bottom.  And then, you come to the realization that your entire life you’ve been a survivor.  You’ve survived everything that’s been thrown your way.  So you slowly start to pick up the pieces and go forward.  Its slow steps at first, but eventually you find yourself running toward freedom.  And when you finally get there, it’s amazing.

That’s kind of how I feel at the end of every run.  No matter how tired I am, or how slow I’m dragging myself along, at least the last few steps, something stirs and I am able to muster the strength to run like I haven’t just put 19 miles behind me.  Because I am a survivor.  I feel like I am a running to that feeling of freedom and I’ve made it.  It is amazing.  Especially when you get to the end and you get to celebrate with the awesome people who kept you company along the way.  A couple years, or even a couple miles, can make all the difference in the world.

For some reason, after all that, I’ve got a hankering for some pancakes.  Geesh, you’d think I just ran 19 miles, or something.

Adam and RRG post race

Adam and RRG post race

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