Monthly Archives: May 2013

Finding a Rhythm

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Is it just me or does it sometimes feel like it takes a while to fall into a rhythm?

On Saturday, I put on my wetsuit for the first time since purchasing it in January, and I attempted my first open water swim of the season.  Coincidentally, it was also my first swim ever in a wetsuit.  I’ve been certified for Scuba for several years, but that doesn’t really count as “swimming” in a wetsuit.  This was a new experience.  The wetsuit is tight and restrictive and makes it somewhat more difficult to breathe and move one’s arms.  In addition to the fact that the water is murky and there are no lane lines to follow so swimming straight becomes another challenge.  The goal is to work on “sighting” the big orange buoy that you’re headed toward.  However, on the way to the first buoy on Saturday, my goal was to not drown.  With the buoyancy of my Quintana Roo Ultrafull that might have been nearly impossible, but if anyone is capable of giving it a good shot, it’s me.  My first couple hundred meters were ug-ly, but eventually I started to remember things like keeping my head down, breathe when I need to, slow down and relax which ultimately helped me find a rhythm…sort of.  I managed to get through almost 2 full loops of the .62 mile course.  Not too shabby for my first time out there.  However, now I’m even more terrified of the fact that I have less than 2 months until I have to do that in Lake Michigan.  Yikes.

After the swim, I ditched my wetsuit when I found a bunch of my tri-peeps and we hopped on the bikes for a nice flat ride in Newtown.  Tracy and I got to catch up on all sorts of topics while we rode, until we saw lightening and we quickly decided it was time to bail.  No wipe outs for me in our 20ish miles…success!  We got a little wet as we tried to race the rain, and we got stuck waiting for a train to pass.  Again, rhythm still somewhat eluded me, but at least we managed a solid brick workout before a fun night of breaking in the party deck at my house.

This was a rare weekend that my brother happened to be back in Michigan visiting my mom.  Since I had to work until 5 on Sunday, it’s a 6 hour drive each way and I had to be back to reclaim custody of my kiddos early this morning, I wasn’t sure how to swing the possibility of getting up there to see him.  But, as I thought about all the times in our lives that our parents had driven 1, 2, 10, even 16 hours to watch either of us participate in our various sporting events for a couple hours, only to turn around and drive all the way home, it suddenly became a no-brainer.  Seriously, one time when I was in college, my parents drove through the night from Michigan to Atlanta, slept a couple hours in their van, watched my team row on Lake Lanier and then turned around and drove straight home to get my dad back for a meeting.  I heard my dad’s voice echo in my head saying, “It was crazy but I’m glad we did it.”

And thus, on Sunday, upon leaving work, I embarked on the 350 mile drive to Exit 1 off of highway 94 in the mitten.  I grabbed a quick coffee and ham sandwich at Starbucks so I would only have to make a short pit stop while filling up the Pathfinder.  I passed the miles belting out the lyrics to my all-time favorite stage show, Les Miserables.  At exactly midnight, I pulled into a South Cove guest parking spot.  As soon as my brother heard the buzzer at my mom’s condo, he knew it was me.

Monday was Memorial Day.  And while I very much appreciate the service of those who have fought for and given their lives for our country, I was also spending the day reflecting on my own memories.  Mom started pulling out various boxes for AJ and I to go through.  Old school papers, a journal my dad had given me when I graduated from High School, AJ’s old sports gear, my old softball uniform and my prom dresses.  It goes on and on…

Eventually, I made my way out into the blustery Michigan weather for a run.  What better way to celebrate Memorial Day than a run down memory lane?  As soon as I started I thought of James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams saying, “The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces”.  I thought it was a hazy mist, but it was more than that, it was my memories thick in the air.  A little over 30 years ago, Al and Kris Jacobs stumbled onto a little beach town known as New Buffalo and the adjoining town of Union Pier nestled down the road.  They spent nearly every summer there with their children.  Eventually, they bought a place right on the harbor.

When I hit start on my Garmin, I overlooked the grassy knoll where my dad had walked me down a makeshift aisle to give me away at my wedding, which is the same grassy knoll my kids love to fish and kayak from.  I ran up the hill, over the bridge to the beach, where as a child I dug countless holes in the sand with my brother and where I spent endless hours drifting in the waves with my sister, singing Madonna songs, while we all laughed at my dad falling asleep under the umbrella listening to the static of the AM radio trying to catch a Cubs score.  As I ran up Marquette road, I passed the start line of the Bison Stampede 5K, the last race I ever ran with my dad.  I continued on Marquette, what we had dubbed “the lake road” so many years ago, past Camp Sokol, Sturgeon Beach and Apple Lane.  Where Marquette ends into Lakeside, I made a left.  I hadn’t really planned to go any farther, but I felt pulled to keep going.  I ran along the road that I had walked with my dad as a little girl to get donuts at Ramberg’s Bakery for breakfast.  Eventually, I came to a sign that read Gintara’s.  I stood at the entrance of the resort, staring down the driveway.  I remembered playing tennis on the courts there with my sister.  I could see the main house where we went to check in so many consecutive summers.  I knew it was there, even though I couldn’t see the “Boathouse” down the staircase that we had packed our family of 5 into for sticky summer nights, sleeping on blow up rafts, playing Scrabble and never quite being free from sand in our toes. I could see the big cottage that we had rented a handful of times with groups of neighbors and friends, the Lundbergs, the Coltons, the Simms, the Gardners, the Cirannas and my high school girlfriends.  It was just over 4 miles from my mom’s condo to Gintara’s.  I stood there for a moment, taking in the smell of Honeysuckle, before turning and heading back the way I had just come.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve run that stretch, whether for a nice easy run or in training for a marathon or anything in between.

It’s still amazing to me that every time I run that road, there is a new house going up; but there are still so many familiar homes that have been a part of every journey along that stretch, now just a little more weathered than they were years ago.  Always changing, and always staying the same.  By the last couple miles, I was cruising, flying along the blacktop like I had found my rhythm.  And then, in the distance, I saw two people running toward me.  The taller, goofy one started leaping through the air throwing his arms out in front of himself.  I gradually slowed my pace and fell in line with my brother and sister in law.  We wound between the houses, down a long staircase and onto the beach, where our pace ultimately slowed to a walk as we scanned the sand for beach glass.  It was a perfect way to finish that run.

And it reminded me, sometimes, finding your rhythm doesn’t mean going along at exactly the same pace all the time.  Sometimes it means going fast when you feel like you can, other times it means slowing down because you need to catch your breath.  It’s about knowing when and how you need to change it. Life can go zooming by if we let it, if we get too focused on being in a rhythm.

When I had to stop at the first buoy of my inaugural wetsuit swim to regain my composure, Annie swam by and checked on me.  If I’d had rhythm, I would have missed that.  When the train stopped us on our bike ride, Tracy and I dismounted and laughed about the comfort of bike seats (or lack thereof).  If I’d kept my pace to finish out a solid 8 miler on Lake Michigan, I would have missed that walk on the beach with AJ and Simy.  Life is about so much more than getting in a groove and coasting along.  It’s about appreciating all the little things that force us to change up our pace.

Driving 350 miles for a mile walk on the beach, a burger at Redamak’s and hugs from my family…well, as my dad would say, “It was crazy, but I’m glad I did it.”

Now that’s my kind of rhythm.

RRG and Tracy at the end of Saturday's ride

RRG and Tracy at the end of Saturday’s ride

 

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Fish Out of Water

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It seems lately that people are constantly telling me how strong they think I am.  And to some degree, I agree with them.  I mean, I did remove a fully assembled grill from the back of my Pathfinder on Monday completely by myself.  Which was especially challenging with the Thule bike rack on the back of the Nissan. At one point I thought I was permanently stuck as I was wedged immobile between the bike rack and the grill.  Additionally, I have managed to come out seemingly on top of a fair amount of adversity. However, even the strong girl has days of weakness.

Yesterday I woke up feeling like a fish out of water.  Maybe it was residual from a rough Mother’s Day weekend.  Maybe it was in light of the devastation in Oklahoma this week and I was missing my kids.  I don’t know, but I was definitely feeling homesick.  I’ve always said, you can take the girl out of Chicago, but you can’t take Chicago out of the girl. I was missing having my mom only an hour drive away.  I was missing having Britta close by.  I was resenting living in Missouri, with none of my family around.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends here, but after all, blood is thicker than water, right?  Ok, so maybe Britta isn’t blood, but I can count on her like she is.  I was just generally feeling alone in the Show Me State.  Like I didn’t belong here.  Like a fish out of water.

So, what did I do?  I went to the pool.  Where I could ironically feel like a fish out of water IN the water.  After one length in the pool, Coach Andy yelled, “Who are you and what did you do with Lindsey?”  He wondered what in the world had happened to the stroke we’d been working on so hard.  It had been a while since I’d been in the pool and I’d kind of forgotten what I was doing.  I’d totally forgotten how to breathe.  But I slowed down, relaxed, reminded myself that I COULD do this, and eventually I got my groove back.  Sort of.  For me anyway.   2500 meters later, I was feeling like I’d made some progress.  But this whole multi-sport thing is still a little intimidating to me.  I am, after all, the rambling Runner girl.

After a quick change, a snack and a brief sobfest on the phone with my mom, I jumped on my bike to get a few miles in before I had to pick the kids up from school.  My pace was lame for the first few miles.  I felt sluggish and I kept getting stuck at stoplights but finally I started cruising.  I went out Old Manchester, then I went down into Rockwood Reservation and on my way back to Manchester, I had to walk my bike up the hill at the back of the park.  I probably could have made it, but I got scared that I would fall so I dismounted.  I re-mounted my bike thinking I was ready to go, but somehow after I clipped in I managed to immediately fall right over. Umm, does anyone else see the irony in that?  It was like it was happening in slow motion and yet there was nothing I could do about it. I still can’t get used to these pedals.  Fish out of water, on a bike.  But, I got back up and got back on the horse…err, bike.  I made it back to my neighborhood without too much trouble.  Then, with about a half mile to go…flat tire.  Drat.  I unclipped, successfully this time.  And began the clickity-clack walk home in my cycling shoes.

So, now I have experienced my first flat.  I guess it’s officially time to learn how to tend to that.  I’ve been expecting, or dreading rather, that happening, but it wasn’t a huge ordeal this time.  The good news is I wasn’t far from home.  I’m pretty sure I would have had a complete meltdown if that had happened 9 miles out.  Note to self: next time I ride alone, take the phone.  And cab fare.

Last night Silas graduated from Pre-school.  His teachers put on a very cute Circus themed Graduation and Silas was an adorable lion tamer, complete with a whip I had made for him out of rope and electrical tape.  I was very proud of the whip, considering that I don’t do homemade costumes.  Frankly, I stink at homemade costumes.  Anyway, Silas was definitely in his element.  And being a mom, I was definitely back in my element.  As we were driving home after the festivities, the kids were chattering in the backseat, playing with balloons and I was singing along with Chris Tomlin on the radio.  As I sang the words, “I can say, it is well” I thought, yeah, it is well.  I was back with my kiddos and I had survived a tough day of things just being out of sorts.  I am the strong girl.  But I realized that part of being the strong girl is, once again, admitting my weaknesses, owning them, and accepting them.

Even the strong girl has struggles.  And gets bumps and bruises.  And takes ibuprofen.  And uses an ace bandage to wrap a Spongebob ice pack onto her hand. Sometimes the strong girl even has to skip boxing and spend the morning at Urgent Care getting X-rays to make sure there is no fracture.

I’m glad to report that the strong girl is not broken, just bruised.  Both the hand, and the pride.

I don't foresee this staying on long.  It just makes me feel like I'm being overly dramatic.  And dumb.  Really, really dumb.

I don’t foresee this staying on long. It just makes me feel like I’m being overly dramatic. And dumb. Really, really dumb.

 

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Why Did the Beetle Cross the Road?

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Why did the beetle cross the road?

I don’t know.  I didn’t stop to ask him.  Instead I kept right on running, careful not to step on him.

But if you want to know why Rambling Runner Girl crossed the road, it was to stay in the shade!

However, I got so much more than just a break from the sun.

Let me explain…

The saying goes that lightening never strikes twice, right?  Well, I’m not sure I really believe that, but I can assure you that tornadoes DO strike the same place.  I know this because as I pulled into Babler today, I encountered a sign indicating that parts of park were closed due to storm damage from tornadoes that rolled through last month.  This was the same sign I came across in February of 2011 when I was one of the first people to enter the park for a run after tornadoes had done some major destruction.  In fact, there was a news crew there that day.  They filmed me, interviewed me and gave me about 20 seconds of St. Louis fame.  A few weeks ago, the park got slammed again.

For whatever reason, I chose Babler as yesteday’s location for an easy 12 mile run.  Ummm, yeah, there is nothing easy about Babler, especially on a day where humidity is at a high for the year so far.  Typically, when I run at Babler there is a 4 mile loop that I stick to, mainly because I know it and I don’t usually have enough time to run the 5 mile loop that I’ve heard exists out there.  Well, yesterday, I finally chose the road less traveled, at least by me.  I ran the big loop twice and added a little out and back stint down a side road that I had never been on to finish out at exactly 12 miles.

When I ran the first loop, it was overcast and I thought for sure I was going to get rained on.  I didn’t.  But I did meet a turtle on my way out of the parking lot.  And I found what was, quite possibly, the world’s longest hill.  I’m still not sure why, after a short break at the car to refill my water bottle, I decided to do it again.  On the second time around, the haze had lifted and the sun was shining.  It was humid and hot.  As I crested the world’s longest hill, I started to seek out shade where ever I could find it.  So I crossed to the other side of the street.  It was at that point that I saw some of the damage done by the most recent tornado to rip through Babler.  I had seen several trees down already, twisted and destroyed by the wind, but when I crossed over, I could see down into a ravine of pretty severe devastation.  I was shocked for a second that I hadn’t noticed it the first time.  How could I have missed that?!  But the truth was, I couldn’t see it from the other side of the street, just a few steps away.

That got me thinking, sometimes I get so focused on what is right directly in front of my face, that I become oblivious to things that really aren’t that far away.  I am guilty of being so intensely interested in my phone, or my laptop, that I don’t notice Silas getting into the fridge and pulling out the pitcher of fruit punch until it is spilling all over the floor.  (And then I get mad at him for not asking for help.  He probably did, and I just zoned out.)   Likewise, sometimes I get so focused on my Garmin that I forget to enjoy the path that I’m running.  Fortunately, yeterday was not like that.  It was hot, and a tough run, but I enjoyed it and appreciated it.  And I was thinking about another time recently that I was glad that I looked up to see what was going on around me.

The other day at work, I was sitting on the floor, fitting a customer for some running shoes, when an elderly couple walked in.  I greeted them with a “Hi, Welcome to FLEET FEET” and a big LJ smile.  Then I continued with my customer while Cole assisted the woman who strolled in with her walker, and her husband.  After several minutes, my customer had gone outside to run to try out a different pair of shoes, and I looked up from my fit app, to see this old man, on his knees, gently putting his wife’s stockings back on her feet.  I caught Cole’s eye, and we clearly had the same thought about how sweet it was that this man was humble enough to get down on the floor and do this for the woman he loved.

I’ve never been one to live life behind a camera.  In fact, at lot of times, I’ll look back at various events and think… I probably should have taken more pictures.  But something I have always made a point to do, is take mental snapshots.  I’m glad I looked beyond my fit bench the other day, to take a mental picture of that sweet man and his wife.  It was a good reminder that there are people who will do things like that for each other.  I’d like to think someday when my fingers are too arthritic to tie my own running shoes, that someone, whether it’s my kids or my friends or whoever, will be there willing to do it for me.  And until then, I’d like to be able to return the favor.

So, courtesy of yesterday’s run, I hope I will do a better job of remembering to look a little father outside of myself.  Run a different route, cross into unknown territory, take a look around and remember that there might just be something bigger and more extraordinary ahead, if I take the time to look up and see it.

Warning at the entrance of Babler

Warning at the entrance of Babler

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Have You Hugged a Sweaty Runner Today?

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There was a bumper sticker I saw on a car once that I loved.  It read: Have you hugged a wet swimmer today?  I have vowed to buy that for Britta if I ever have the opportunity.  In the running world, we get wet too, but in a sweaty kind of way.  When I found Steve after the Vancouver marathon last weekend, he hugged me and then announced how disgustingly sweaty I was.  It was true. I was drenched.  And I stunk.  To my Ragnar “Hot Mess” team, Be warned: After running 3 times in the June Midwest humidity, I won’t be pleasant. I will be rank. I promise to bring a large supply of Nathan Power Shower wipes, but I am fully prepared for Wes to douse me with Febreze at some point.

For many years I was a self-declared non-crier, non-hugger.  Well, we all know how the crying thing has turned out.  And somewhere along the way, I became a hugger too.  I hug people all the time.  I hug hello, I hug goodbye.  I hug because something is funny and I desperately need hugs when I’m sad.  I hug to say Thank you.  Sometimes, I hug just because.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  It was my first Mother’s Day as a single mom.  My mom is in Italy so I didn’t even get to talk to her.  It was also one of those years that my middle baby’s birthday falls on Mother’s Day.  Ethan is my kiddo that was born on his grandpa’s birthday.  My dad would have turned 71 yesterday, but he is eternally stuck at 59 in my mind. Talk about a variety of emotions swirling around and crashing into each other all day long.  The day was full of highs and lows.  I woke up to a smiling Ally saying, “Happy Mother’s Day!” and then we ate chocolate birthday cake for breakfast.   After Ethan’s baseball game, he chose IHOP as our lunch destination, second to Chik-Fil-A which is closed on Sunday.  I hope my kids didn’t notice how often my eyes brimmed with tears as I looked around at all the families enjoying Mother’s Day together.  Kids and dads sitting together with moms wearing corsages.  And there we sat, the four of us, in the middle of it.  My boys eating as much as they could off my plate, so I ended up with half of what I ordered, while Silas’s chocolate pancake went almost untouched and Ethan’s mac and cheese ended up partially on the floor.  Yesterday I read post after post of guys declaring how their wife is the best mother in the world.  I read posts by moms who had been given flowers, spa days, taken out to dinner, basically just being appreciated.

Being a single parent is about the most un-glorious job in the world.  Not only are you tasked with all the usual difficulties of parenting, there is no one there to say, “Hey, I know how hard you’re working and I appreciate it.”  It’s true, in our custody schedules we get built in breaks when the kids are with the other parent, but we are each required to be the mom and the dad at the same time, working, laundry, paying bills, cooking, fixing broken fishing polls, kissing scraped knees, we do it all.  I did everything I could to hold it together yesterday for my kids, for Ethan on his birthday.  We had a beautiful day together, but my emotions were constantly threatening to tip in the other direction.

I got all kinds of texts yesterday wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day.  So many of them seemed to come right at the exact moment that I found myself thinking I just don’t know if I can keep it together anymore…  As we were sitting down at the kitchen table for dinner, I got a text from Lloyd, one of my brother’s best friends.  Lloyd’s text said: I know you’ve gotten a thousand of these by now, but…happy mother’s day!  Yep, I had gotten several throughout the day, and I needed every single one of them.  Each one was like a hug coming through the phone.  So, to all of you who sent me hugs on my first official single mother’s day…thank you!  To me it was so much more than just a text.

After an incredibly difficult weekend, running today felt like a giant hug.  This morning I dropped the kids at school, promptly burst into tears and then went for a 7 mile run, which was like an hour long hug.  I needed it.  I went to Rockwood Reservation and ran from the little parking lot on 109, through the underpass, along the little creek, past the visitor’s center, up the big hill near the back and all the way to Manchester.  And then I turned around and ran back to the parking lot.  The last time I ran at Rockwood, the trees were almost bare, the sky was a threatening gray color, the last of the leaves were snowing down on me, and my shoes made that satisfying crunching sound as I tromped through the ones that had already met their annual demise.  Today, the sky was blue, the air was clean, the trees were green and full, there were little purple flowers blooming.  And that made me think about how everything in life has to go through that dead period of cold and gray.  Then the rain comes.  And finally everything starts growing again.  Rebirth.  I don’t think it means that everything will be sunny and flowery and perfect from now on, and I know that seasons come and go, but I’d like to at least believe that maybe now I’m on the other side of the dead zone.  If nothing else, I know I’ve at least made it to the rainy season, especially given all the tears that landed on the steering wheel of my Pathfinder this morning.

Last night when I put the kids to bed, after an utterly exhausting day with all of my emotions threatening to expose me at any moment, I was concerned I hadn’t done enough to honor my special birthday boy.  As I tucked Ethan in on the top bunk, over an already sleeping Silas, I said, “Hey bud, I hope you had a good birthday.”  He responded, “It was an AWESOME birthday.”  And he hugged me.

Being a single mom can sometimes feel like all guts and no glory.  But it’s moments like that, that give me strength to keep going and they make it totally worth it.

Hanging with my kiddos on Mother's Day

Hanging with my kiddos on Mother’s Day

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Me and Steve and Steve’s Mom

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Last weekend I spent 3 days basking in the glorious beauty of Vancouver, British Columbia with Steve and his mom, Dee.  It’s really too bad that Steve and I can’t get married because I can’t imagine a more perfect mother-in-law than Dee.  But given the circumstances, Steve will continue to be the main man in my life as my training buddy, my movie partner, and the Will to my Grace; and at least I get to be an honorary member of the Carrell family.  I really wouldn’t have it any other way.  We went to Capilano to cross the giant suspension bridge and play among the treetops of the rain forest.  We sat outside on the patio to have dinner at Water St. Café, overlooking the old Steam clock in Gastown.  We went up to the observation deck of the sightseeing tower and made a friend named Carl from Toronto.  We took the water taxi across the harbor to Granville Island for a tour of the market, some gelato and enjoyed the view while listening to live music.  We ate a variety of cuisines, including Japanese, Italian, Thai and Freshii burritos.  We briefly considered trying the Japadog street vendor, but ultimately decided better of it. We talked about taking a seaplane to Saskatchewan. (Or I did anyway, just because that’s fun to say.  Go on, say it.  It’s fun, right?)  We had absolutely perfect weather for our travels.  Not once did I have to pull out the umbrella I had tucked into my suitcase.

Oh, and I happened to run a marathon while we were there.  Every marathon has a story.  Vancouver 2013 was certainly no exception.

Frequently in life, you have to take the image that you’ve conjured up in your mind of how things are “supposed to be” and chuck it right out the window.  Once you do that, you are finally free to enjoy life.  I didn’t get married thinking, “Wow, maybe one day I’ll end up a divorced, single mom.  Won’t that be great?!”  Likewise, I didn’t go out to Vancouver last Friday thinking I wouldn’t BQ, PR, cross the finish line, whatever.  I had specific ideas of how that race was supposed to go.  But sometimes we have to come to the realization that Plan A isn’t working out.  So we skip to Plan B.  And eventually we end up on Plan Q.  But when we accept that maybe that was the best plan all along, things tend to go a little smoother.

Steve got to see me at the beginning of the Vancouver marathon, as he generously volunteered to escort me to the start to act as cheerleader, photographer, gear gatherer and just general brains of the operation since mine was preoccupied.  Steve can now tell you a little known fact about Lindsey…the only time I actually stop talking is when I’m nervous.  Sunday morning, I was nervous.  I was scared of the unknown.  I didn’t know if the race would go the way I wanted it too.  I was prepared for it to be hard, and I knew it was going to hurt, but I didn’t know how much.   But sometimes we just have to take that leap of faith down the path in front of us, and adapt to the twists, turns, hills and hurts as we go along, rather than having an expectation of how it “should” be.

The Vancouver marathon course was ultimately not the place for me to accomplish all the running goals that I’ve set for myself.  I didn’t hit the numbers I wanted to.  That was, without question, the hardest full marathon course I have ever encountered.  My St. Louis friends will understand what I mean when I say that Vancouver was like Baja on steroids.  And I did it on a record hot day in Canada.  I believe the high spiked to 80+ degrees on Sunday, which was especially weird since our flight out of Minneapolis was delayed on Friday due to de-icing during a blizzard.  I’ve come to the conclusion that Canada hates me.  At least as far as marathon weather is concerned.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, Quebec + Hurricane Irene = cancelled race; Vancouver + Heat wave = time killer.  It seems I can’t catch a break.  But as I’ve already come to learn with running, you can’t do anything about the weather, you just have to suck it up.  And remember to be smart.  Which is exactly what I did.

And by being smart, I don’t just mean paying attention to pace and not going out to fast…which I kind of did anyway despite my best efforts not to.  I also don’t mean the fact that I paid very close attention to staying hydrated and cooling off however I could.  Special thanks to the two guys in their yards with the garden hoses going and the girl with the spray bottle somewhere between mile 21 and mile 25.  That part of the race is a little hazy.

Being smart partly meant drawing energy from all the other runners in my life.  When a girl with an amazing voice sang the Canadian national anthem, I thought of Marxkors singing her own rendition to honor me in her bathroom at 5:30 in the morning.  As I weaved through the streets of Vancouver, I could hear Ken’s voice telling me, “Run the tangents, Girl”.  Every time I pulled a Gu out of my spybelt I thought of Faith as I read the labels she had printed up for me, that read things like, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”.  When I saw a girl in my same red Riders, I thought of Nicole finishing up her marathon in Cincinnati.  When Nicky Minaj’s Starships came on my ipod, I thought of my Fleet Feet girrrrlz…Liz, Jess, Faith, Katrina.  When I wanted nothing more than to quit running all together and walk it out, I heard Jake saying “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other”.   I also realized when I tried to smile in order to numb the pain, that Jake is totally full of crap.  Which I probably should have known already anyway.  Of course, that thought made me laugh, which at least distracted me from the pain for a second or two.

As a random side note, other highlights of the race included the 80 year old Asian dude with the sign that read, “You’ve got Stamina.  Call me…maybe?”  Awesome.  Seeing Steve and Dee around mile 19, after I crossed the Burrard St. Bridge.  I traded my empty (and disgustingly sweaty) spybelt for a pack of Sports Beans.  (Note to self:  tucking a pack of sports beans into your sports bra for 6 miles is a really bad idea) And at Mile 22 when I hollered at a guy who was wearing a Fleet Feet St. Louis shirt while pointing to the matching logo on my own pink singlet as I passed him.  Did I really see him in Canada?  It was entirely possible that I was hallucinating, but I think he was wearing a visor.

However, this time, being smart mostly had to do with appreciating the opportunity I was given to run in Vancouver and soaking up everything about that experience.  After a very tough climb over Kilometers 10, 11 and 12, with an oddly misplaced water station nestled halfway up, I eventually crested the top of a hill (a really, really big hill) to reveal what was quite possibly the most spectacular scene I have ever been privy to in any marathon.  A breathtaking panoramic view of the snow-capped mountains, the bay below and a solitary flag donning the signature red maple leaf flapping in the breeze among a throng of evergreens.  If there is one moment from that race that will remain permanently etched in my memory, I hope it’s that one.  Because it was at that precisely that moment that I realized something.  Yes, I have goals and I will keep working toward them, Boston not excluded.  But while I may not be the fastest or the best runner in the world, there is one thing I am really good at.  Being Lindsey.  I know that I might slow down when I get tired, but I won’t quit.  I won’t ever give up.  Even when it’s hard, and it hurts, I will keep trudging on into the unknown, putting one foot in front of the other, and get the job done.   And I will appreciate the beauty surrounding me, even through the struggles and the pain.  I don’t want to take anything for granted.  Because all of that is what makes me who I am.

Whether I did it as fast as I wanted to or not, I ran 26.2 miles on Sunday.  That’s nothing to scoff at.  I ran a really hard course on a really hot day, and I did it in less than 4 hours.  That’s faster than any of the 4 times I’ve run the Chicago course, which is completely flat (except for the only hill in the city that they decided to stick in right at the end).  There ain’t no shame in what I accomplished on Sunday.

After I crossed the finish line and had a medal placed around my neck, Steve found me staggering down Thurlow Street.  I sat down right there in the middle of the street, exhausted and spent, after I declared to him, “You are never picking the course again!”  But in seriousness, I told him that even knowing what I know, I would still do it all over again.  It was a beautiful course.  It was a spectacular weekend. One might even say, majestic. I was completely overwhelmed by the love and support of my friends, and equally overwhelmed by the sense of peace in my heart while I was in Vancouver.  Steve was glad to hear this because having never seen me after a marathon, he was a little concerned I would be upset or disappointed in my time.  My response to that was, “You know me, I’m Lindsey.  I’m always going to find a reason to smile.”

That's the Burrard St. Bridge I got to run over

That’s the Burrard St. Bridge I got to run over

 

 

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The Final Countdown…

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The final hour is now upon us.  I leave for Vancouver in the wee hours of the morning.  I’m packed…well, sort of.  If you count an open suitcase on my bedroom floor with a pile of stuff thrown in that general vicinity over the past few days “packed”.  Should I be sleeping right now?  Probably.  Although, the chance of that being very successful tonight is unlikely.  Steve and I have been texting and the challenge is on to see which one of us will be asleep first when we get on that plane.

I’m ready for this.  I’ve trained hard for this race.  And now it’s time to trust my training.  I’m bib #2423 and I’m ready.  Did I already say that?  I need to keep reminding myself.

As is usually the case during the last week of the taper, I have begun to doubt myself.  I feel slow.  I go between feelings of “I can totally do this!” and “Can I really do this?” within a matter of seconds, it’s like the runners version of Bi-Polar.

I’ve seen all of my running peeps this week.  I’ve heard “You got this Girl” and “I believe in you” more times than I can count.  I’m gathering all the good vibes and mojo that I can.  I’ve been getting emails and texts wishing me the best.

My friend Katherine stopped by the store the other day with a present and a note.  The present was a pair of socks that say Badass.  Her note read: “Lindsey, Just a small reminder of all the hard work you put into training for Vancouver.  You have done all you can and you are ready.  Run strong, have fun and best wishes for a great race”.  I hope some of her speed rubs off on me.  This girl just ran a personal best of 3:17 at Boston, finishing early enough to claim her medal and get clear of the finish line before the nightmare began.

I got to run with Liz on Tuesday, who celebrated my last PR in December 2011 with a ballet slipper Christmas ornament (she couldn’t find a running shoe) since she was my Secret Santa.

Faith and I met this morning at Starbucks for our standing Thursday coffee date before we opened the store.  She had a present for me that included some of my favorite treats, an Awesome journal (seriously, it’s called The Journal of Awesome) and sticker labels of inspirational quotes to put on my GU’s for the race.

Marxkors came by the store today, just to give me a good luck hug and rub some of her speed on me.  And I finally had her sign my copy of her book, The Lola Papers, which I plan to read on the flight tomorrow, if I can stay awake.  I’ve read her inscription a couple times, but it keeps making me cry.

I ran with Nicole after work.  It seemed appropriate for us to run together one last time before we head off to our separate marathons in different parts of the world, since we did so many of our training runs together.  We got in a quick 3 miles this afternoon in the humidity.  We talked race apparel, nutrition, strategy, pace.  We both feel just a little better knowing that we’ll be running a marathon on the same day, even though with the time change I will be starting about the time she is done.   Both of us running in matching red Riders.

I think the only person who I didn’t see this week, that I felt like I should have, in order to bring the whole thing full circle, was Nick, since all of this started at his birthday dinner back in December when Steve said, “I think I’m going to run Vancouver for my birthday”.  Unfortunately, I don’t think Steve will even be able to run me into the finish, but he’ll be waiting to celebrate with me when I’m done.  Nick’s and my last text exchange went like this:

Nick: Rock that marathon.  You’ve trained hard and earned a PR.

RRG: I haven’t earned it yet, but I’m gonna give it my best shot.

One of the best things that any of my friends said to me this week was “It’s impossible to really feel pain when you’re smiling”.  I’m going to hold on to that at Mile 17, or 18, or 19, or 20, or whenever I hit the wall.  And I’m going to smile.  Because that’s what Rambling Runner Girl does when she’s running.

I ran 16 in the rain, 17 in the cold with some sleet, 18 in a blizzard, 19 in wind and 20 in heat and humidity.  Welcome to marathon training in the Midwest!  I’m ready for any weather Canada decides to throw at me.  Of course, I’ve said that before…thanks, Hurricane Irene.  The forecast in Vancouver is calling for much warmer temps than the average for this time of year, a high of 75!  What?!  55 and sunny at the start, let’s hope it doesn’t heat up too much.

This 26.2 means a lot. I’m going to push myself. It’s going to be hard.  But it’s supposed to be hard.  If it was easy, everyone would do it. I’m prioritizing my goals as good/better/best.

Good: A PR, anything better than 3:47:11.

Better: Beating my old BQ time before the BAA dropped the times, anything better than 3:45:59.

Best: BQ, faster than 3:40.  That’s a tall order.  But this is a new day.  I’m a new girl.  Both figuratively and literally, since this is my first marathon ever as Lindsey Jacobs.  Ultimately, I just want to go run a great race and be happy crossing the finish because I laid it all on the line.  In the words of Pre, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift”.

But here’s the big question…what do I have to lose by believing that I can accomplish all that I want to in this race?  Even if I don’t accomplish all of it, it doesn’t mean I can’t, it just means I didn’t this time.  So I will believe that I can.  And I will go after it.  With all of my heart and everything I have I will go after that 3:39:59.

Today, as I left out the back door of the store, sweaty from my run with Nicole, I heard Faith yell “Get ‘er done!” and AJ followed that with “Break a Leg…are we supposed to say that?”  The point is this…regardless of what the final result is on Sunday, I have never felt so loved and supported in any of my marathons before this one.  I have a phenomenal cheering section.  And that is better than any race shirt, or finisher’s gear, or medal I could ever earn.  My people…that’s my real PR.

Some of the items to go in my carry on

Some of the items to go in my carry on

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