Monthly Archives: October 2013

Running with Elvis and a Bunch of Bananas

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On Saturday afternoon I made a last minute decision to run a half marathon on Sunday.  Despite not having any intention of running this race, I ended up with a PR.  Not a PR that has anything to do with setting records, but this was hands down the most fun I have ever had in any race ever.  This time PR stood for Personal Reminder.

Here’s how it all went down…

On Saturday, I was working at the store when Dan Moll stopped by and mentioned that he had a bib for the Rock N Roll St. Louis half marathon on Sunday that was up for grabs.  He asked if I knew anyone who might be interested. I thought about it for a second, “Ummm, yeah. Me.”  I thought I had already secured a bib for Farrell.  Random side note: she will still be “Farrell” to RRG even though her last name is now Heaberlin.  Anyway, I wanted to run with her and Nicole, who were running for “fun”.

And so I decided to bail on my friends that had volunteered to work the Fleet Feet water station with me Sunday morning, and instead join my friends.  I also had a group of friends that were planning to run as Elvis and a bunch of bananas.  After work Saturday, I put on my Britney Spears costume and headed to Wes’s for a Halloween party where Gerry, Annie, Serena and our host were proudly decked out in their banana suits, courtesy of Jamba Juice and our Ambassador of Rock friend Tracy.  Dan produced my bib and I carb loaded with a burger and some Schlafly Pumpkin Ale.

5 am came awfully early after a late night of watching the World Series game and hanging out with friends.  I stood in my bedroom staring at the pile of running clothes on the floor trying to figure out how to get them on my body.  I brushed my teeth, threw on a visor and searched the fridge for something to eat on the way.  I landed on an “everything” bagel that I forced myself to eat on the drive downtown.  Upon arrival, I pinned on Dan’s bib and dumped the entire contents of my purse on the passenger seat of my car in a desperate search for the Salted Caramel Gu that I knew was in there somewhere.  This was the least prepared I have ever been for any race I have ever run…ever.  And my brain was on such low function that even after parking the car and running about a mile to the Peabody where the group was gathering, I still had trouble understanding what anyone was saying to me.  I asked Steve to put my d-tag on my shoe, but ultimately I think he was having just as much trouble as I was.  I stared at Serena in her banana suit as she tried to explain something to me and I just wasn’t tracking.  At that point, Wes teased me, “You don’t look so good right now, Jacobs.”  I don’t think I have ever been that tired going into a race.  3 straight days of working all day, going out afterward and little sleep.  How in the world was I going to get through 13 miles?

Eventually, we lined up in the corrals.  I turned to Tony, who was dressed in his standard Elvis attire, and asked what kind of pace he was planning to run.  He said, “Fun Pace”.  Yeppers, that worked for me.  Within the first half mile or so, all of us were pretty spread out already.  Nikki and Shalini were running the full.  Annie’s competitive juices had kicked in, even in a banana suit.  Gerry is just crazy fast without even trying. I put on my ipod and picked up the pace to what felt “comfortable”.  If there was such a thing given the circumstances and my low energy level.

The first 3-4 miles or so were just to get my blood flowing and wake me up.  Surprisingly, I was actually managing a fairly decent pace too.  Not likely to be my fastest, but not my slowest either.  Somewhere in there I ran past Glenn and his brother, who had dropped a hat.  I still wasn’t awake enough to pick it up for him as I almost stepped on it.

It was at about mile 5.5 that the fun really started.  I could see the Fleet Feet water station up on the hill and I knew I was about to see a lot of familiar faces.

I turned the corner heading into the station.  Andy was at the first table.  I had a flashback to a couple years ago where the roles were reversed and Andy ran past in his orange Kinvaras, grabbing a cup of Gatorade from my extended hand.  Granted, he was running considerably faster than I could even dream but whatever.  He has been known to slow down to my pace on occasion to show me a trail or two.

The next table was Adam’s wife Sarah, followed by Adam.  We did a chest bump and he said, “Hey, I wondered where my water station buddy was!”  We had so much fun laughing last year in that very same spot, it was then that I officially decided Adam was my “work husband”.  Unfortunately, our relationship is on the rocks since he has been positioned at the new Des Peres store.

Then I saw my recruits, Katie and Steve.  Steve had threatened to throw Gatorade on me when he saw me since I was a jerk for convincing them to volunteer and then going off to run instead.  I braced myself, and with a big smile on his face he held the cup in a threatening manner.  We laughed and I drank instead of getting a Gatorade shower.

I continued through the water station seeing Haley, Diana, Katrina, Faith, her daughter Baylee, Katie, Tim, Jaime, Kaitlyn and Rosie…I’m probably forgetting someone, but it was so cool to have all my friends cheering me on like that.  So many of them were shocked to see me on the course which was a fun surprise.  So I gave a quick explanation of making the decision about 15 hours earlier. Rosie and Kaitlyn had both commented on having “race envy” which is extremely common amongst runners.   As I meandered through the water station, it occurred to me that I had taken a cup from almost every one of my friends.  90% of my hydrating happened at mile 6, I maybe hit one more station for the rest of the race to avoid a stop at the Port-a-Potty.

Shortly after that, I saw Mark.  Mark is a friend of Farrell’s who will be traveling with a group of us to Arizona in a few weeks to volunteer for the Ironman, which will secure each of us a spot to register for Ironman Arizona 2014.  I came up next to Mark and we ran together for about a mile.  We talked about our upcoming travels, training, life and various things.  After a while, I decided to pick up the pace for a bit.  So I took off.  For maybe about 100 yards.

And then I saw Liz standing on the side of the road cheering.  So I jumped over to see her and stopped to chat for a bit.  She said, “Obviously you’re not running for time.” I said “Nope, just running for fun today.  I’m having a blast.  It’s easier to throw competition out the window when you’re running under someone else’s name.  Today I am a 55 year old man!”  We talked a little longer. Brian waved as he went by and then I went on my way.

At this point there were about 4 miles to go.  I got into a zone for a little while as we ran through some beautiful neighborhoods.   I hit every “official high five station” that I saw.  So many people in costumes out enjoying a beautiful fall day in the Lou.  There is nothing cuter than the smiles of little kids waiting for a high five when their mission is accomplished.

When we got to the split for the half and the full marathon, I could see Brian up ahead of me about to break left, so I picked it up to catch him, called his name and gave him a fist bump for encouragement before heading up the hill into the final stretch.  At the top of the hill, I heard my name, so I popped my earphones out for a minute to chat with Kris, Roberto, Steve, Eugene and little Rhyen in my old BOB stroller.  They had, of course, seen most of the crew go past.  I once again declared how much fun I was having, had no idea what my time was and finally decided to finish off the last half mile.  I thought maybe I still had a shot at finishing this in under 2 hours, but doubtful.  Although, I really didn’t care.  It wasn’t about that at all.

So when I saw one of my social runners, Barbara, up ahead of me about to finish her very first half marathon, I had no problem slowing up a little bit and coasting into the finish with her.  So great to be a part of her accomplishment and I’m sure she is addicted now.

At the finish we got our medals and ran into several other friends, Tracy, Jodi and JT.  Then a recent customer of mine, Susie, grabbed me to say hi and introduce me to her girlfriend who loves reading about the adventures of RRG.  I have to admit, I felt a little famous for a second.  As friends came and went, I kept an eye open for any of the bananas since I figured they would be the easiest to spot.  Eventually, I saw a large afro flopping among the heads of people coming through the finish.  Tony.  As Elvis.

While we stood waiting for a few others, my body had begun to cool down and I was getting the shakes. Quite by accident stole some guy’s mylar wrap right out of his hand.  Or as Tony says, I mugged him.  But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right?  When we had Serena Banana we headed toward the Jamba Juice tent, where we ultimately found most of the others in our motley crew.  Oddly, I never did see Farrell and Nicole, who were the primary reason I had decided to run in the first place.

We stood in the sun chatting, refueling and enjoying the day.  Somewhere over the course of those 13 miles, I had really come to life and started enjoying the day.  We asked about each other’s times, and honestly, I still couldn’t tell you what my official time was.  I don’t even think I want to know, because it’s completely irrelevant.  According to my Garmin which is set to auto-pause, my actual running time was just under 2 hours.  My guess is that my “chip time” is somewhere in the 2:05-2:10 range, but the experience was time-less.

My PR for the day was the “Personal Reminder” that sometimes it’s ok to set my competitive nature aside.  Once in a while, I need to remember to stop taking running so seriously.  Stop taking everything so seriously.  Stop taking myself so seriously.

And I mean, really, how can you take anything seriously when you are running with Elvis and a bunch of bananas?!

Enjoying the post party!

Enjoying the post party!

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Go Forth and Conquer

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I’ve been in a funk for about a week.  Considering that I ran the Chicago Marathon a little over a week ago, this is not at all surprising.  Yet again, I have a case of the post race blues.  The only surprising part is that this funk has lasted longer than usual.  Which is why I have been Silent Runner Girl.  Now I’m ready to ramble.

Last weekend was an unforgettable experience.  I got to spend the weekend in my favorite city with my best friend in the whole word and run a marathon.  Trifecta!

Friday night, before I left town, Shane and I went to dinner and bowling in the loop to keep me from pacing at home in anticipation of such an epic event.  Saturday morning, I was up before my alarm (which I assure you never ever happens!) and stopped to pick up Cole and his girlfriend Susannah before heading up 55 North to the Windy City.

We went straight to McCormick Place where the Chicago Marathon expo is held every October.  Cole and Susannah went on in while I waited at the entrance for Britta.  I wanted to experience every moment of her first marathon with her.  While I waited, I felt my eyes welling up with tears.  I was waiting for my best friend, who I hadn’t seen in a year and a half.  While many things about my life have changed in that time, she has remained constant.  She knows me better than anyone and has wholeheartedly accepted me as I am.  Flaws and all.

Just as the tears were about to spill, I was distracted.  Suddenly a different someone was standing in front of me in disbelief. If you’ve been following my posts from the beginning, you may remember my friend Douang who was a customer that I fit for shoes back in the spring.  She had lost a child and was about to run her first half marathon.  Running was the thing that gave her a reason to get out of bed in the morning during that period of horrific grief that swept over her life.  And I was shocked to see her standing in front of me in Chicago, telling me that she was about to run her first marathon, in place of her husband who couldn’t use his bib.  What’s even more unreal is that she spotted me in all that chaos.  If that isn’t good race mojo, I just don’t know what is.

Then, the crowd parted.  And there was Britta walking towards us.  Finally!  We made our way into the Expo where we gathered our bibs and race shirts and other goodies.  After the expo, we took a little break at our room at the Palmer House Hilton.  Yeah, we stayed in style.

Eventually, we pulled ourselves together and went to dinner.  Most people carb load before an event like a marathon.  But B and I have a favorite place in Chicago (actually we have a few favorites) so we went to Wildfire for steak and ribs.  Hey, we had potatoes too.

Dinner at Wildfire

Dinner at Wildfire

After dinner we leisurely wandered back to the hotel by way of State Street.  We were both just enjoying being in our city.  We came across a big Captain Morgan’s sign that simply read, “Go Forth and Conquer”.  That’s exactly what we had come to do.

When we got back to the hotel, we laid out race clothes, gathered necessary items, organized our gear, and talked logistics.  All lot of those logistics went out the window, as is usually the case since race morning arrives and you ultimately don’t really care about anything other than making sure you get to the start line on time.

Hind sight being what it is we probably should have left earlier than we did to get to the corrals, but we made it.  We didn’t quite accomplish everything we wanted to that morning, but we had a planned meeting place and took our “selfie” by Buckingham Fountain (the important things)  seconds before I jumped ship and ran off to Corral C.  Britta had insisted that we each had to run our own race.  She thought if we ran together we would spend the whole time talking and not doing what we came to do.  She had a point, so I stuck with Corral C, while Britta started about 30 minutes later in Corral E.

Our Pre-Marathon selfie

Our Pre-Marathon selfie

My plan was just to run hard and enjoy the day.  I intentionally held back at the start, trying to reign in the adrenaline coursing through me.  Almost immediately I spotted Brian and Katie up ahead of me.  I caught up to them to say a quick good luck and then we each went on about our own races.

I ran near my old office that over-looked Michigan Ave.  I ran past the only spot I have ever seen my dad during any of my marathons.  I ran by Lincoln Park Zoo, so many memories there.  I ran past the hospital where 2 of my kids were born.  I ran past Surf St. where I lived in my favorite apartment before I got married.  I ran past Britta’s old building that I used to walk to from my apartment on Surf.  I ran down Addison, but turned left on Broadway before we got to Wrigley Field.  I ran past Wrightwood and Deming, streets that would lead to tiny Lill Ave where there is a little yellow house that I brought both of my boys home from the hospital to.  I blew a kiss in that direction.  And I ran on.

I looked for various friends at the locations they mentioned they would be.  The only one I saw during the race was Jennifer.  On Wells, somewhere near Chicago Ave, I saw her standing on the sidewalk holding her little girl Kalene.  I gave her a quick hug and threw my arm warmers at her.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do what Jenn and I used to do together in our earlier single days which was sit in coffee shops discussing our favorite books.  Jenn is the one who got me started on Pat Conroy.  I ran on.

We headed back through the downtown area and then went west.  The middle of the marathon is always a bit of a blur to me.  Part of that is being “in the zone” but in Chicago it’s the more unfamiliar neighborhoods.  In the distance, recognizable buildings stand tall, reminding me of where I am.  And the running continues…

Then on to the south side, through China town and then a turn just before Comisky (they can change the name to US Cellular Field, and try to give it a cool nickname like “The Cell”, but it will still always be Comisky to most Chicagoans) Eventually the course goes north, up Michigan Avenue, with the skyline beaconing all the runners back to Grant Park.  Somehow the designers of the course found the only hill in Chicago and stuck it in right at 26.1.  Right before we coast those last couple hundred meters into the finish.

And then, marathon #9 was done.  Not a PR, but just a couple minutes off.  My second fastest, run on a beautiful day in a beautiful city.  I got my mylar wrap, my medal, my snacks, and my free beer while I chatted with my friend Stephanie who finished at the same time. Then I laid on the grass and waited for Britta in our designated spot.  I waited longer than I had expected so I figured out something had gone wrong.  Turns out she was right on pace until she stepped in a pothole at about Mile 14, which twisted her ankle and tweaked her knee.  She ended up having to walk a fair amount of the back half.  But she still had a great first marathon time.

Initially upon seeing me, she said how much it sucked and she was never doing that again.  It only took a couple hours when we were back in the hotel before she had reconsidered.  She can’t let that be her one and only marathon experience, always knowing that she could do better.  I KNEW IT!

After we cleaned up, rested a bit and repacked our stuff, we ventured back out into the streets of the city we love so much.  We hit Garrett’s for some popcorn, for the kids, of course.  And then some Chicago style pizza.  Then, sadly, it was time for B to head to the airport.  I drove her to Midway, we hugged goodbye.  And then, it was over.  Our marathon weekend that we had planned and looked forward to for months was now behind us.

And that was the Chicago Marathon 2013.

It’s funny how we build things up in our minds.  The marathon, just like life, is really a series of small things that make up something bigger.  We move from one thing to the next, thinking that the big thing we are working toward is going to be the pinnacle.  But eventually we realize that even after those moments that we have been building up to have passed, life still just keeps on going, one more step at a time.  Feeling joy and pain all at the same time.

The past week and a half since Chicago, my life has seemed somewhat messy.  My schedule was chaotic, I had a sick kid, I missed out on some things I wanted to do, I started going down a road leading to a major pity party.  On Saturday night after I got the kids to bed, I pulled up a movie from my DVR to help end the funk.  Prince of Tides.  Good old Pat Conroy, a favorite, all thanks to Jenn.  It’s been several years since she gave me a copy of that book for my birthday one year, but it’s still a fave.  The thing I love about it is that I can see myself in each of the characters.  Each of their messy lives somehow relates to mine.  Because that’s life, it’s messy.

Yesterday my friend Jodi found out that her divorce was final.  We were talking about the huge variety of emotions that comes with that news.  I reassured her that it’s ok to bounce around all over the place from scared to liberated, from sad to angry to terrified.  Individual moments that make up something bigger.  The important part is to feel it all.  Her response was, “Yeah I guess that’s the only way to live, feel it all”.

At some point over the past week, I was texting a friend and I was trying to say “I’m a tough one” but my phone interjected some other suggested words.  It wanted me to say “I am a…complete beautiful prize”.  Even in my mess, even when I don’t parent perfectly, even when I’m in a funk, even when I miss a PR by just a couple minutes, my life is still a series of small things, some good, some not so good, but I’m going to feel it all.  Ultimately, yeah, it is the series of small things that make up my messy life, and it is my ability to “Go forth and Conquer” that makes me a complete beautiful prize.

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Pedal the Cause-The Rest of the Story

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Today was a beautiful day.  I’m not just referring to the fact that it was a perfect, 75 degree day in the Midwest in October.  Mostly I am referring to the beautiful souls that I got to spend part of my day with.

One of my favorite memories from my youth, was my dad picking me up from softball practice and we would listen to Paul Harvey tell “the rest of the story” as we drove home.  If you read my post last week about Pedal the Cause, you’re now going to get “the rest of the story”.

On Sunday morning, I was up bright and early…well, that’s not entirely true.  It was so early that it wasn’t bright at all, in fact, it was still dark.  I dropped the kids at their dad’s and watched the sunrise over St. Louis as I drove down 40.  I knew I had probably over-estimated how much time I needed, but since I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, how parking would be and what the packet pick-up situation was, I didn’t want to feel stressed.  I was also hoping to catch Teri before she pedaled off for 50 miles, which left an hour before my 25 mile ride.

As I neared downtown, I noticed a car in front of me with a bike on the back, so I figured they knew where they were going.  I made the right call following them, since they led me to a stellar parking spot about a block from the PTC Village (and it was free!)  As I was heading over to pick up my packet, I got a text from Wes, so I offered to grab his stuff as well.  Once I had our gear, I went to find Teri, who was right where her email said she would be, near the corral, with distinctive blue star balloons guiding the way.

I figured with all of the chaos of the weekend Teri probably hadn’t found time to read my last post, but I should know by now to never under-estimate this woman.  The first thing she said when she saw me was how much she appreciated it.  And that she wanted to go with me to Inga’s chemo appointment.  Goosebumps.

After I chatted with a couple other friends and Teri set off on her ride, I headed back over to my car to get myself assembled and meet Wes.  We put stickers on bikes and helmets, pinned on bib numbers and gathered whatever we needed and then set off back toward the village.  Once we got over there, we found snacks, a port-o-potty, coffee (yay!) and our friend Roberto, who has the annoying habit of being such a fantastic cyclist that he can ride around through a crowd while holding hot coffee.  After commenting on this, I promptly bumped into someone with my bike, and all I was doing was standing there.  I apologized and then told Wes that I should probably just walk around wearing a big sign that says, “I’m sorry.”

Eventually we found our way into the start corral, had someone take our picture and tried to stay warm in the sun.  It was a chilly morning, one that runners kill for on race day, but cyclists not so much.  However, Pedal the Cause isn’t a race so much as a ride to benefit cancer research.  Or maybe it was just the non-cyclist in me that wanted to believe it wasn’t a race.  Wes teased me about how nervous I was.  True, I was completely out of my element.

Finally we were off.  We headed west out of the downtown area, past Forest Park (where I very nearly jumped off my bike and went for a run) and through Clayton.  It was at about that point that I told Wes it was time to pick up the pace.  I thought he was right behind me.  I thought wrong.

The ride itself was mostly uneventful, other than just being a beautiful ride.  Despite Grey’s assessment that it was a flat course, there were a considerable amount of hills.  Perhaps in comparison to Wildwood it was a flat course, but it didn’t feel flat.  I could have done without the moment that the cop directing traffic through the intersection at Forest Park Parkway and 170 decided to have me stop and let the cars turn left in front of me, where I had to break hard and unclip quickly and very nearly crashed and burned.  As I eventually went on through the intersection, he yelled an apology because he hadn’t seen me.  Well, at least he wasn’t “trying” to get me killed.  Yikes.

The best part of the ride was, without a doubt, hearing other riders on the course yell “Yay, Team Teri!” when they saw my Powered by Hope jersey.  It’s a pretty incredible feeling to be a part of a team named for a really incredible woman.

As I headed back up Chestnut to the finish, the sun was shining on the arch and there was a big US flag held between two Fire Truck ladders flying over the shoot.  It was picturesque and for a moment I considered dismounting my bike to capture the moment with my phone.  But instead I let the cheers of the crowd pull me to the finish where I received a medal for my efforts of the day. That hardly seemed necessary.  I rode a bike.  The people I rode for are all fighting cancer.  They are the ones who deserve the medal.

I waited for Wes at the finish and we hung out a little bit before I had to head back to the valley to spend the day at work and he had to catch a flight to DC.  We both agreed what a great event it was and that we are planning to rope all of our friends into doing it with us next year.

Flash forward to today.

After an early staff meeting and a brief Mat Science class (Thanks Courtney!) I made my way over to St. Luke’s to join Inga at her chemo appointment.  I sat in the waiting room until Inga was ready for me to join her.  We went into the Infusion room, found a spot and I proceeded to tell Inga stories about all kinds of stuff from training and racing to our small world connection of both knowing Steve.  Occasionally I worried that I was too loud.  I know, imagine that. Me?  Loud?  And I definitely wondered if I was too hyper.  I’m always hyper.  But before I knew it, an hour had passed, and I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard Teri’s voice tease that I never call or respond to texts.  Unfortunately, my service wasn’t great in the hospital.  But fortunately, Teri is resourceful enough that she found us anyway.  I wasn’t positive she would make it, but as usual, she didn’t let me down.

Teri has a way of lighting up a room.  Even a chemo infusion room.  I introduced my friends.  We talked about kids and families.  We talked about training and racing.  Teri told us about an amazing woman she had met who has continued to compete in triathlons after becoming an amputee.

They talked about various types of drugs and other cancer related topics that I don’t fully understand.  But I sat and listened.  And I was amazed at their strength.  Totally different women, fighting totally different battles.  Teri’s strength is very in your face (in a good way).  I mean, the woman does Ironman triathlons.  That’s in your face strong.  And Inga is the picture of quiet strength.  She smiles as she tells the nurse that she needs a later appointment time next week so she can put her kids on the bus.  And she remains positive after 70 chemo treatments.  And she never stops believing.  Despite their differences, these women draw their strength from the same source.  They are both Powered by Hope.

One of the things I rattled on and on about today with Inga is my excitement over the Chicago Marathon that I will be running this weekend.  I can hardly contain myself.  My anticipation and adrenaline are higher than ever.  I’m so ready to go do this.  The weather forecast looks great.  My best friend will be on the course with me.  And I’m healthy.  I’m healthy…

As Teri told the story about her triathlete friend, Karen Aydelott, I couldn’t help but think that when I start to hurt on Sunday, when I feel like I don’t feel like running anymore because the pain is too great, I will think of these amazing women and the strength and courage it takes to overcome the pain they face on a daily basis.

As we were about to leave today, another patient sat down in the chair next to us.  Her name was Brenda and she seemed terrified.  Inga tried to put her at ease saying, “This is a good place.  They’re going to take good care of you here”.  I’m so glad to know that my sweet friend is in good hands.  But knowing how strong her faith is, I should have already known that.

I made it back to my car today before I started crying.  They weren’t tears of fear or sadness or doubt, but tears of feeling overwhelmed with gratitude and unbelievably blessed at the opportunity to have these women in my life.  And to bring them together today and get a glimpse of what it truly looks like to be Powered by Hope.  And if that doesn’t carry me through 26.2 miles on Sunday, I just don’t know what will.

And now you know the rest of the story.  Rambling Runner Girl…Good day.

Teri and RRG at Pedal the Cause 2013

Teri and RRG at Pedal the Cause 2013

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Pedal the Cause

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On Sunday morning, I will mount my bike and take to the streets of St. Louis.  A few months ago, I got an email from my friend Teri, who I’ve mentioned before.  Teri was recruiting members for her team for Pedal the Cause.  This is an event to raise money for cancer, all proceeds will stay right here in St. Louis and benefit the Siteman Cancer Center and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

If you had told me a few years ago that I would A) own a road bike, B) be participating in triathlons and C) be getting ready to sign up for a full Ironman with the encouragement of my awesome friend Teri; I would have told you that you were out of your MIND!

Teri has been integral in my attempt to become a triathlete.  Lindsey Farrell may have been the one who initially put the idea in my head and has talked me through most of it.  But Teri is my inspiration.

I’ve mentioned before that Teri is an Ironman.  I’ve also mentioned that a very short time after competing in Ironman Louisville, in an effort to qualify for the National Championships in Kona, and falling just barely short of that goal, Teri was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer.  And yet she continued to train through chemo and was invited to Kona as one of the special guest athletes.

Teri inspires me to do more than I ever thought possible.  She is fighting this disease by not letting it take over her life.  It’s part of who she is, but it doesn’t have a hold on her.  She is living, and competing, and growing, and using her situation to raise awareness and lift others up.

When we go through rough spots in life, it would be so easy to either lay down and give up, or become bitter that we’ve been dealt a bad hand.  But if Teri can be Powered by Hope in her situation, then I sure as anything can be too!  I won’t give up.  I won’t be bitter.  Instead, I will fight the good fight.  I will keep the faith. And I will forge ahead to all that is before me.

I recently reconnected with a good friend from Jr. High who happens to live right here in the St. Louis area, as well.  Inga is, without a doubt, one of the nicest people you could ever meet anywhere!  We used to have slumber parties and we played basketball together as kids.  I will never forget being in awe of Inga’s passion on the basketball court and how she fought with aggression. Inga has been battling inflammatory breast cancer for several years.  It literally came on overnight, but she never wavered in her willingness to fight it. That same passion still shines bright through Inga.

This is a girl who tells me that I’m amazing and that I inspire her.  But I can’t begin to see how I could be half as amazing or inspiring as Inga.  She goes from one activity to another with her 5 kids, and then back to chemo, always smiling, always being sweet Inga, always keeping the faith.  She speaks about it openly among our group of girlfriends that tries to get together regularly for lunch.  I know she won’t let it get the best of her.

I think it’s very true that you never know how strong you are until you come face to face with something that requires you to prove what you are really capable of. Teri and Inga both have a never give up attitude that inspires me to be better than I ever believed I could be and to push through the “I’m tired” and the “It’s hard” and the “I don’t want to”.  “The words “I can’t” are not even an option.  If Teri can do what she does while her body is fighting for life, then I can at least continue to try to be better and stronger.

I still don’t consider myself much of a cyclist, but if there was ever a good reason to put the runner girl in me aside and just ride, this is it!  This weekend, I will proudly wear my yellow and black Team Teri jersey that reads Powered by Hope.  I am honored that I have been asked to ride with Teri on Sunday.  And equally as honored that I have been invited to be with Inga at her treatment next week.  My presence at both of these events isn’t going to change the world, but I know it’s going to change me.  And if I can, in some small way, give hope and help continue the fight, then you better believe that I’ll do it!

Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer.  If you would like to donate to Pedal the Cause, you can donate to Teri’s team or through me as a rider at:

http://stlouis.pedalthecause.org/donate.jsp

Every dollar is appreciated!

RRG and Teri Griege-Ironwoman

RRG and Teri Griege-Ironwoman

 

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Kidney Infections and Karaoke

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It’s been a whirlwind week since I last posted.  Last Thursday, I had to knock out my last long run before the Chicago Marathon.  Why run 20 miles on a Thursday, you ask.  Well, because I needed to get it done before a crazy busy weekend full of fun activities.

So, Thursday afternoon, I finished up at work around 2pm, did some long run prep and headed out into the hottest part of the entire week to conquer 20 miles.  I ran from the back door of the store and headed out through the flats of Chesterfield, just to keep things simple.  I ran to the Spirit of St. Louis Airport, and back to the store, with a couple of detours, to make it moderately interesting.  I knocked out 11 miles with ease, swung by the store again to use the potty and a quick water bottle refill.  Back out on the levee for 3 more, then back into the store for some sports beans.  And back out into Chesterfield valley with a final stretch up Baxter to meet Nick who was running from home to meet me for a couple miles before social run started.  As I suspected he was on what we affectionately refer to as “Nick time”, ie-he was late.  I kept running, getting farther and farther from the store.  Typically not a big deal, but I had to be back to lead social run.  After reaching the top of a hill and still no sign of Nick, I gave up and turned around.  A few minutes later, I checked over my shoulder and caught a glimpse of him in a full sprint trying to catch me.  I waited.  He caught me.  Then he had to catch his breath.  I was out of fluids.  We were about 2 miles from the store and I needed to be there.  Soon.  So we started back down the hill to the valley, we were cruising.  That last mile was faster than my race pace and considerably faster than the pace I’d been holding for the first 18.  We hit the back door of Fleet Feet at exactly 20.5 miles.  Nothing like hearing your Garmin announce 20 miles and have to keep running really, really fast.  I was tired.  Even my ipod was tired, since it started shorting out.

But, no time to cool down.  The social runners were starting to gather.  At 6:30, I sent the runners off toward the levee, while Steve and I brought up the rear.  I only managed a very slow 1.25 out, and then the return trip.  I topped off at 23 miles.  Then, put on some dry clothes and went for pizza with the crew.

The social run crew.  This is how we celebrate a good run!

The social run crew. This is how we celebrate a good run!

I was planning to sleep well Thursday night.  Then I was going to get up and leisurely get ready to meet Farrell and the rest of the bridesmaids at the spa to get ready for her wedding weekend.  Unfortunately, the discomfort I had woken up with on Thursday, turned to excruciating pain on my whole left side by Friday morning.  I knew an early trip to the doctor was in order.  Come to find out, I ran that whole 23 miles while my body was trying to fight off a kidney infection.  My body gave a valiant effort, but ultimately, the infection won.  I got some antibiotics and sucked it up to get through the Friday festivities of BBQ, rehearsal and Cubs/Cards game.

Celebrating Linds and Ryan, and all the adventure ahead of them! (I'm still going to call her Farrell, even if its not her last name anymore!)

Celebrating Linds and Ryan, and all the adventure ahead of them! (I’m still going to call her Farrell, even if its not her last name anymore!)

I got back to the hotel around midnight and crashed!  By Saturday morning, I was a new woman, and I was ready to party!  Which is exactly what I did.  I spent Saturday celebrating Lindsey and Ryan’s wedding.  I couldn’t be happier for them, I was honored to stand with them on their day and I can’t wait to see what adventures await them in their life together.

#Bestbridesmaidsever

#Bestbridesmaidsever

On Sunday, I spent a beautiful afternoon at the winery with friends celebrating my birthday.  The celebration continued at the biker bar in Defiance.  My memory got a little fuzzy at that point, so I don’t know what time it was exactly when I was sleeping comfortably in my bed.  I slept for a long, long time.  With the exception of a trip to the kitchen for water somewhere in the middle of the night, I pretty much stayed in bed until about 10am on Monday.  I allowed myself the excuse not to run that I was still recovering from a23 mile run + kidney infection. I made it to work on time Monday afternoon in good spirits.  And Monday night I was at it again since Katrina bought me a birthday drink at midnight to celebrate that I am officially 29…again.

I was planning to run Tuesday morning, but I had some unforeseen things come up and by the time I finished up with some stuff at the kids’ school, it was time for my birthday massage.  The therapist informed me afterward that my glutes were a mess.  Yeah, like I hadn’t noticed.  Then I was off to lunch with Steve before my mom got to town and we picked up the kids for my G-rated birthday party.

Overall, it was a good weekend.  And a great birthday.  Last night I got an email from Teri with a great quote, “Let the rest of your days be the best of your days”.  Which is exactly how I intend to live, from here on out.

I finally got out for a run this morning after dropping the kids at school.  I got my Garmin set, hit play on my ipod and was ready to go.  After that massage yesterday, my muscles were loose and I felt like I was flying.  Except for just one thing.  Remember that short in my ipod?  Almost as soon as I started running, I realized that I could only hear the instrumental music, no lyrics.  I got occasional backup singers.  But the lead singer was nowhere to be found.  Well, shoot.  What do I do with that?  I guess I need some new earbuds.  I decided to keep it playing and see what happened.

I quickly realized, it was a little like karaoke.  I knew all the words to the songs.  Or most of them anyway.  And the ones I didn’t know, I made them up.  (My apologies to anyone on the path along 109 who happened to catch an earful of my out-of-breath attempt at singing)  At one point, I even heard a song that Cole and I sang at Charlie’s one night when a bunch of Fleet Feet-ers went out to visit Eric at one of his last rounds as karaoke DJ.  Man I miss those nights!

It occurred to me, each day is sort of like singing karaoke.  We’ve got people in the background that can help enhance each day, singing backup if you will.  And we get to fill in the words however they go.  Even with a general guide to follow, we can still mess up.  And then we can laugh at ourselves, take a deep breath and get back on track.  Sometimes we sound really good, other times not so much.

Most importantly, we get to choose the type of music that sets the tone of each day.  I was stuck in something that sounded like a dirge for a really long time, then my life resembled something more like angry chick music (Alanis Morissette, anyone?) But now I prefer upbeat songs that tell a good story.

Coincidentally, the last song playing when I got to the end of my run, was the song that Silas asked me to sing to him last night when I put him to bed.  It’s a song we have sung to each other often over the past couple years, and it’s somewhat reflective of my birthday wish to make the rest of my days the best of my days.

when we struggle and it all goes wrong, only you can make it right, so I say…I’m learning to be the light.

I hope the song my soul sings each day always reflects happiness, positivity and joy.  I have a lot to celebrate going into this next year of my life.  I just completed a year of tremendous progress and I am continuing to grow on a daily basis.  I’m proud of the person I’ve become and who I continue to evolve into.  I’ve accomplished a lot and I know that I can conquer anything in my path.  I’m only getting better with age because I’m learning to be the light.

Here’s to the year ahead!

Mile 22 of 23 on Thursday. One of the reasons I love to run.

Mile 22 of 23 on Thursday. One of the reasons I love to run.

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