Monthly Archives: January 2014

Expect the Unexpected

The sad day has finally come that I have to report an injury.  On Sunday morning I was out for a run with my new beau.  Yes, you read that right; Rambling Runner Girl has found a Rambling Runner Dude.  He runs but he isn’t into racing and he isn’t nearly the rambler that I am.  But who is?  Let’s face it, with me around, no one ever really stands a chance to get a word in.  And that’s not me being my competitive self, that’s just reality. Brian is my main squeeze.   He is good to me and he’s good for me.  He grounds me.  He reminds me that I don’t need to go 90 mph all the time.  He makes me laugh.  And most importantly, he accepts me just as I am.  It only took us 30 years to talk to each other, since we went to school together when we were 9.  Well, he was 9, I was 8, for a month.  But who’s counting?  And how’s that for patience?  You know what they say, timing is everything.

So, on Sunday, I wanted to show him one of my favorite places to run.  We started at Al Foster and ran into Castlewood where we bumped into some of my usual running crew.  But since I had to be at work by noon, we didn’t have time to do the route they were running.  We turned back and were making great time.  Then I noticed a funny twinge in my left hamstring.  Another step, hmmm, that’s weird, it feels tight.  Another step, I wonder if I should walk for a bit.  Another step, POP. Ouch!  And we’re walking.

Anyone who has ever run with me knows that I don’t like to walk.  I may, at times, walk a tough hill to conserve energy, primarily during a race.  At some point, you find your pace has slowed so much that walking is just as fast and doesn’t expend the energy that running does.  However, I am not at all fond of walking when I can run through the pain, nor am I fond of walking on a path as flat as Al Foster.  However, the day had come that it was absolutely necessary.  And so, we walked.  Fortunately it was a beautiful day.  A nice break from the extreme cold of this ridiculous polar vortex that keeps coming back around and hitting below the belt.  We got in about 5 miles before my hammy issues, then we walked the 2.5ish miles back to the car.  Our walk had set me back a little, but I still managed to get to work just a few minutes late.  And then I proceeded to hobble around the store with a hamstring compression wrap on for the entirety of the day.  Thank God for Ibuprofen.

This injury is a reminder that, contrary to what I like to believe of myself, I am not invincible.  It’s been a while since I’ve had an injury of this magnitude that has taken me out of the game.  The game of running that is.  But, if there is one thing I’m good at, it’s turning a negative into a positive.  I have taken advantage of the fact that swimming is actually a really good way to rehab an injury like this.  And who really wants to run outside when we are expecting a high of 11 degrees anyway?!

Yesterday, I got up and put my swimsuit on, made my coffee, took some meds and headed to Crestview.  I gingerly lowered myself into the pool, but the water felt great on my tight muscles.  Having an injury makes everything tight.  You compensate, you favor other muscles and ultimately everything is out of whack.  My dad always said try to walk as normal as possible.  But then again, if I’d had a broken leg, he would have said, “You’re fine, just walk it off”.  There is a reason I’m as tough as I am.

But yesterday wasn’t just any day in the pool.  Yesterday something unexpected happened.  I had decided when I got in the pool, I was going for distance.  I had plenty of time, so I was going to see how far I could make it, at a nice comfortable pace.  As a triathlete, we are commonly told to take the kick out of it anyway, but yesterday I had to.  I thought about grabbing a pull float, but decided to fly without one.  So, using only upper body, with my legs trailing along behind me, I went back and forth the length of the pool.  After every 400 meters, I would throw in a hundred meters of backstroke and then back to freestyle.

A couple weeks ago, Coach Andy had talked about “keeping a bullet in the holster”.  I asked what he meant.  He was referring to using the push of one arm to propel the other arm, leading the way out in front, further through the water.  He had frequently in the past mentioned that if I could leave that hand out in front a split second longer, I would begin to find my rhythm.

And then, yesterday, it finally happened.  Somewhere in the middle of the 3000 meters that I managed, I felt it.  I was doing it.  I was hanging that hand out there and pushing myself through the water.  I finally felt the rhythm that is swimming.  I found it.

I’m a runner.  I’m used to step left, step right, repeat.  But with swimming, the alternating movement of the swim stroke doesn’t look exactly like the rote movement of running.  It’s almost more of a dance.  And yesterday, something clicked.  And once I
felt it, I wanted to go faster.  I loved the rhythmic feeling I was experiencing.  It was soothing.  And it was my reward for admitting all my fears, and failures, and shortcomings, but persevering in what I feared anyway.

But isn’t that so true, in general?  When we admit the thing that is really scaring us, the thing that is holding us back, it doesn’t have a grip on us anymore.  Granted it took me a year to get here, but my efforts and sticking with it are finally paying off.  Being “in the wait” is hard, you just have to be patient and persevere, but once you get there it’s so worth it.

Today I went back to the pool.  This was the first time I have ever walked onto the deck of any pool and not felt like a complete amateur.  I’m still not the fastest one in the water, not even close, and I likely never will be.  But I’m not the slowest anymore either.  Today, I didn’t worry at all about my distance.  In fact, I couldn’t begin to tell you how far I went.  I actually meant to bring my Garmin today so I wouldn’t have to count, but I forgot it.  Oh well, there will be other days for that.  Today, I focused solely on technique.  I just wanted to relax and swim and enjoy the rhythm.  I earned that.

Sometimes things just click.  They just come together.  If you had told me a year ago where I would be right now, in so many aspects of my life, I wouldn’t have believed it.  But my patience and persistence paid off.  Although sometimes it was hard to keep the faith, I never gave up hope.

And so, I ask you, what is the thing you have been waiting to do?  What has held you back? What are you afraid of? Fear of hurting?  Fear of failure?  Something else?  For my friend, Dan, it was the same as me; swimming.  While I was primarily afraid of not being good at something and looking like a fool, Dan is not at all comfortable with having his face underwater.  Last year he wanted to sign up for the Racine Half Ironman that I did, but he let the swim thing get in the way.  This year, I am happy to report, he has already registered for his first Half Ironman.  He will be competing with me in Alton, IL at the Border Wars Half on October 5th, just 4 days after my birthday.  My friend Ken has followed suite.  He registered last night.  And he still needs to buy a bike. Now I get to play the role of being the resource, the encourager, the mentor, the “seasoned” triathlete.  I still find this really quite hilarious, but I vow to help my friends however I can, just as others have done, and continue to do, for me.  I can think of no better birthday gift than being present to witness the accomplishments of my friends.  Followed by a trip to Fast Eddie’s to celebrate.  Of course.

So now the challenge is this:  Step 1-Admit it.  Acknowledge the thing that you want to do. Step 2-Try it. If you don’t know where to start, find someone who does and ask for help.  Trust me, I know how hard that is, do it anyway.  Step 3-Stick with it for one year.  And then see where it leads you.  If you need to sign up for something before you feel completely ready, go ahead and do it.  You know the saying, if you wait until you’re “ready”, you’ll never do it.  What are you waiting for?  You never know what adventures are ahead of you, and what rewards they’ll bring, until you do it.  So take a leap of faith.  Put yourself out there.  And expect the unexpected.

Slow and Steady is Still a Victory

Last Tuesday, I finally got back in the pool after several months of avoiding it.  I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t the epic fail that I expected it to be.  It was actually, dare I say, quite pleasant.  I jumped in thinking I was back at square 1, where I started a year ago, the first time I walked onto the deck of the Crestview Middle School pool and talked to Andy Ripp.  As he prepared to evaluate my stroke that day, I was utterly embarrassed at how ridiculous I was sure I looked.  But last Tuesday, as I slipped into the water and began a slow warm up, I repeated the things to myself that Andy had told me that very first day in the water: Head down, elbows up, fingertips pointed toward the bottom of the pool and most importantly, RELAX.  I glided through the water, nice and easy (read: slow).  Ok, I can do this.  I haven’t forgotten how.  Even the bilateral breathing felt as natural as ever.  And my new goggles that I bought in Arizona, per the suggestion of Ron Trapper, were a huge success.

After a few hundred meters, I caught a glimpse of Andy walking along the side of the pool watching me.  I had sent him an email that morning to let him know I was planning to be there so that he didn’t die of complete shock upon seeing me again.  At the end of that length, I stopped and he nodded, smiling.  “How do you feel?” he asked.

“Surprisingly okay,” I responded.

“You look good.  You look relaxed.  You haven’t lost any technique.”

I was relieved.  We talked for a minute about technique, about the Racine half Ironman that I completed in July and various events that I am signed up for this year, including Ironman Arizona.  Andy suggested that I let my lead hand hang out in front a split second longer.  And then I went back to it.  I managed about 1500 meters in the time I had left.  I mixed in some back stroke here and there just to change muscle groups, but I felt good about my freestyle efforts.  Slow and steady is still a victory.

So when today was coming around, I had my bag packed with my swim gear and I was feeling ready.  I was feeling good.  But just after 7 am this morning, came the text message that has become all too familiar this winter.  “School Cancelled.”  Ugh.  If school is cancelled, that means swimming is cancelled.  Of course, even if it wasn’t, I don’t know what I’d do with my kids during that time anyway.

So, today became a bike on the trainer at home day while the kids watched episodes of Jessie and Good Luck Charlie on the Disney Channel.  Swimming might just have to wait til next week since I have other things planned during the rest of this week’s practice times.  But sometimes that’s the way life goes.  You have to roll with the punches.  You have to re-evaluate.  You have set backs…

Today I faced another setback.  Or seemingly so anyway.  I am coming to terms with the fact that there are still people and situations in this world that scare me. That’s right, the adrenaline junkie tough chick gets scared sometimes.  At one point this afternoon, I stood in my room staring at the Wall of Lindsey that holds all my medals and plaques and the picture of the boat that MSU Women’s Crew named the Lindsey J.  And it occurred to me that while I seek to prove how strong I am through all of these different activities, I am really masking the bigger issues.  I am scared.  Scared of being perceived as weak.  Scared of allowing people the chance to hurt me.  Scared of letting anyone to use my vulnerabilities against me ever again.

So, where does that leave me?  Does that mean I’ve lost all the progress that I thought I had made?  No, I don’t think it does.  Just like swimming, it may have been a while since I had been in the pool, I may have put things on hold temporarily, but I didn’t forget everything I’ve learned.  I just have to think about it a little more closely while I deal with the issues in front of me.  Again, slow and steady is still a victory.

In my last post, I made reference to how my dad and I would say, “It hurts good.” And just like running, when it hurts good, you know you’ve pushed yourself and you’ve grown; emotionally speaking we could say the same.  When we face our fears and the things that hold us back, they hurt but confronting them is good for us.  And that isn’t necessarily a setback, it’s a chance to see how far we’ve come even though there is still work to do.  This doesn’t negate the progress that has been made.

Sometimes I think about why I do the marathons and other endurance events that I do.  Yeah, I love that stuff.  I love the work that goes into training for it.  I love the time with my friends.  I love the travel and the experience of it.  I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when I cross the finish line sweaty and exhausted.  I love the way I smile as I hobble around for a day or two afterward.

But no marathon or Ironman or any other race will ever take the place of facing the things that truly scare me.  It’s easy to see how people become addicted to alcohol or food or drugs, all things used to cover over the real problem.  But even racing has the potential to become an unhealthy obsession if I am only using it to try to fill a void.

I want to earn the title Ironman this year.  In November I will have the chance to physically prove it.  But in the months leading up to that, I still have some things to face in order to call myself an all around Ironwoman.  This isn’t a setback so much as it is a temporary pause to re-evaluate how far I’ve come and where I still need to go from here.  Slow and steady is still a victory.

Kelly, Adrianne, RRG, Frenchy, Farrell and Ron...getting ready to take on IMAZ 2014

Kelly, Adrianne, RRG, Frenchy, Farrell and Ron…getting ready to take on IMAZ 2014

I’ve been saying all along, Ironman Arizona is just a platform for me to figure out how to tell my story.  There is a lot more to my story than most people know, but somehow I will figure out how to tell it, as hard as it may be.  I invite you to stick around to make the journey with me.


My dad and I always used to say, after a tough run, “It hurts good.”  Now that I made it through my first real week of training in 2014, I can assure you that by the end of the week I hurt good.  This week I invited several old friends back into my routine.  My boxing gloves, my goggles and my yoga mat, just to name a few. If variety is the spice of life, then I was cooking with the big dogs this week.  By Thursday night I had been to the Boxing Gym and the pool, I had run on roads and trails and I had made use of my time at home with the kids on the bike trainer and doing a yoga DVD.  Oh, and even though I haven’t used them this week, I stopped to pick up my hockey skates that I had sharpened.

By Friday, my body was screaming at me, wondering what in the world I thought I was doing re-introducing all of these activities at the same time.  While I know that the pain is a good thing because it means I’m stretching, growing, making progress, I also know when I need a break.  So I decided to take a Friday off.

But yesterday I was back at it.  I coached with the Fleet Feet trail group.  I led the long run group of Reindeers through the Al Foster trail, into Castlewood and back.  As we all know, I love to tell stories, so it won’t surprise anyone to learn that I earned myself the title of the “Ghost story telling Sherpa” today.  But 10 miles leaves a lot of time for stories, so I didn’t stop with the ghost stories. I told many other stories too.  Appropriately, since I was running with the Reindeer group, I told the story of a conversation I had with Silas about a year ago, just before Christmas.  It went like this…

Silas: Mom, you are a reindeer.

RRG: I am?!  Which one am I? Am I Dasher?  Or Vixen?  Or…

Silas:  No.  You are Gassy.  Gassy the reindeer.

RRG: Wow, that’s an unfortunate name.  Are you sure I can’t be one of the others?

Silas: No.  I like Gassy.  You are Gassy the Reindeer.

And so a nickname was born.  Warning: Gross Runner Girl Disclaimer once again.  Anyone who has ever run with me will tell you that I spit and blow snot rockets.  A lot.  Just ask Nick and Steve about Thursday night on the levee how they kept dodging my snot flying in the wind.  Sorry, Guys.  People who have run with me will also tell you that I have healthy GI track.  Therefore, I should probably embrace my Silas given nickname.


At little after 7:30 am we started our run with a group of about 6 of us on a brisk morning with a sky of bright pink that quickly faded to a dim gray.  A few miles in we sent a pair on a loop back to the parking lot since they were doing the short course.  4 of us continued on.  Eventually another pair dropped back a little bit.  So it became just two of us plodding along, sharing our stories, our legacies.  Chera’s story was pretty amazing.  She had been a single mom for a while too.  I asked what made her take up running.  This is something that always fascinates me because as someone who has been a runner since the ripe old age of 9, I find it hard to comprehend how difficult it would be to start at this point of my life.  Everyone has a story, everyone has a different reason for doing what we do, everyone has a specific favorite area of expertise, but we are all endurance athletes.  We all run or tri or what have you in an effort to prove (more to ourselves than anyone else) that we are conquerors.  On Friday at work there were 4 of us in the store, Will, Rosie and I were all talking to a customer who is preparing for a 100 mile race.  Rosie has completed a 100 mile race.  Will has completed an Ironman.  As this customer said, “Hats off to you” about training for my Ironman, I said, “That’s only going to take me about 14 hours, you’ll be running several hours longer than that.”  Why do we choose to do the things we do?  We want to believe that we are capable of great things and we push ourselves to the extreme in order to find out what our limits are. We want to have a good story.

So, as Chera and I led the way along the slightly snow covered, very frozen, gravel path, I told her a story about pacing my friend Jess on a tough half marathon course through Clayton a couple years ago.  Jess wanted a sub 2 hour half marathon, I agreed to run with her to get her to get the goal time she was seeking.  There is a lot of pressure when you pace someone and this was a first (and only so far) time for me.  If you fail to hit the goal, you aren’t just letting yourself down, you’re letting someone else down too.  I told Jess stories during that race.  I sang songs to her.  I ran ahead and checked out the course.  And when I turned around to find her walking up a small mountain of an incline, I yelled at her to get her ass moving up that hill.  I don’t remember what our exact finish time was when we crossed the line, but I know that we made our goal.  I think we were right under 1:59.  And that remains one of my favorite racing memories ever.  Getting Jess her goal was even better than getting one of my own.  As I told Chera today, when you pace someone like that you take someone under your wing and you own it, it’s like… “your baby”.

Sometimes I forget to look in the window of my own house and see that I am raising 3 little stories of my own.  Yesterday I didn’t forget.  Yesterday, after running with the Chera and the other reindeer, I went over to the school to watch my boys play basketball.  As I watched Silas, who appears to be somewhat afraid of the ball, I smiled at the little dance he does when he plays defense.  He might be better suited for martial arts.  Or ballet. Silas has his strengths, but they may not lie in athletics.  However, watching Ethan play, I am watching the continuation of a legacy right before my very eyes.  He’s good.  His ball handling skills are pretty impressive for a kid who has limited experience with basketball.  He scored 12 points in the first game of the season and matched that yesterday.  But more importantly than scoring points, watching Ethan play I can see that he is carrying on the Jacobs story.  I said yesterday, it reminds me of sitting in a gym watching my brother.  Ethan celebrates the victories of his teammates and at one point I watched him ask a kid on the other team if he was ok after being elbowed in the ear during a rebound attempt.  Ethan is consistently the first one to the other end of the court, he never stops moving and he puts his whole heart into the game.

Watching him was a flashback to watching my brother.  It was like watching my dad’s passion for sports.  And it was like watching…me.  I say all the time, Ethan is exactly like me.  He is stubborn, and feisty, and loud, and easily distracted.  But he is caring, compassionate and selfless.  He is energetic and spunky.  He is passionate and he goes at full force until it’s over.  And through it all, he never stops smiling.

Yesterday I had the privilege of seeing the next chapter of my story as it begins to unfold. I won’t ever claim to be perfect, not even close, but if Ethan is an indication of what my legacy looks like, then I must be doing something right.

Saturday morning...setting the sky on fire.

Saturday morning…setting the sky on fire.

Making Progress

It’s a good thing the sun finally came out this week because it seemed to me as if Snowpocolipse 2014 was beginning to affect everyone’s ability to be rational.  Lately I’ve been surrounded by so much drama.  People being mean and people throwing pity parties.  I don’t like it.  I’ve got enough issues of my own.  Don’t invite me to your pity party, I don’t have time for that.

This time of year can be hard, regardless.  The days are shorter, the sky is gray-er, we see a lot less of the sun and it begins to affect our attitudes.  Add in the polar vortex and you’ve got the makings of disaster as it becomes increasingly more difficult to get a healthy daily dose of endorphins.

This year didn’t start off as I had hoped in terms of training.  With a blizzard, followed by a deep freeze, followed by several days of school cancellations, it made it pretty challenging for a single mom to get out on a bike or over to a pool or even out on the road for a run.  Thus, I was primarily relegated to the likes of a treadmill.  Yuck.

What is it about a treadmill that feels so torturous?  I think for me, it’s the notion that I’m running, but I’m really not going anywhere.  I’m not making any forward progress.  I’m still staring at that same sign on the wall that lists the rules of the Lake Chesterfield Clubhouse.  I’m watching Dr. Phil on the TV, I can see his mouth moving but I’m listening to Beyonce sing about being a survivor. The background music from my ipod continues to play on, but the scenery never changes.  I’m staring at the little red numbers in front of me that are ticking away the time ever so slowly. I’m expending all this energy but I just feel trapped in the same place.  Stuck at Point A.

And now, thanks to my friend Mike King, I have a bike trainer, so that my bike is securely located, stationary, in my living room.  Pedal as I may, the bike isn’t going anywhere either.  Progress?  What progress?

So, finally, this week the temperature warmed up and the kids went back to school.  I’m finally able to get outside again.  Cue Mel Gibson as William Wallace, “Freeeeeeeedoooooom!”

On Sunday, I got in a solid 6 miler before heading off to work.  It took me a while to get going, but by the second half I felt really good.  Maybe, at least in part, because I spotted a couple of girls jump on the path about a quarter mile ahead of me.  Funny that they were both wearing black tights and a pink top, just like I was.  I started chasing them down.  I wanted to catch them.  I felt my pace pick up and I started reeling them in.  At times my progress seemed almost non-existent.  They were still just as far ahead as they were when I first saw them, or so I thought, but were they really?  Maybe I was gaining some ground.  I wasn’t sure.  I put my head down and ran.  Step after step.  I pushed my pace.  And just as I crested the hill to turn right over the bridge back to my house, I looked up to see them go straight.  Only about 10 steps ahead of me.  I never technically caught them but I gained a lot of ground, even when it didn’t seem like I was.  And ultimately it wasn’t really about beating them, it was about seeing what I could do.

Yesterday, I went out for a run again. After my boxing class, I went over to Castlewood.  I knew my legs would be fatigued from kick boxing, and I knew it would be a tough with the mud and the ice still on the trail, but it was too nice a day not to at least grab a few miles while I had the chance.

It was tough.  I had to walk a little more than usual, but when I did walk, I looked up at the woods around me, where I have run so many times, usually with friends, but sometimes on my own.  I didn’t feel lost, I just enjoyed my surroundings. The sun was shining.  There were birds chirping and the melting snow was making the dripping sound.  I splashed through mud puddles and I tip-toed across icy spots.  I didn’t notice a branch that was shooting across the path and I ended up with a scrape across my shin.  I ran with reckless abandon down a hill that I had run up with the Fleet Feet training team just a week before while I listened to Mandisa sing at me that I’m an Overcomer.

Once I got back to the parking lot, after a rough 4 miles, I took off my muddy shoes and I drove home.  In my socks.

In the time between my run and work, I was standing in my kitchen eating a piece of cold, leftover pizza and drinking a Diet Coke.  I was just standing there, doing ordinary things, on an ordinary day after an average run.  And then, something hit me.  I am happy.  I am genuinely content.  For the first time ever in my life that I can remember, I am not waiting for the next big thing to happen.   Sometimes life is just ordinary.  We do laundry.  And eat cold pizza.  And go to work.  And that’s ok.

Not every day is hugely significant.  Not every race is a marathon.  You can’t climb mountains all the time, eventually you get to the top and have to head back down.  Some days nothing monumental happens.  Some days just…are.  From beginning to end, some days you just live to stay alive and you keep doing the things you normally do.  But what matters on those days is attitude.  Finding contentment and joy, even in the average, ordinary, and mundane.

If you had told me a year ago about all the progress I would make in the almost 12 months since I became Rambling Runner Girl, I’m not sure I would have believed you.  I knew I was at Point A, Ground Zero if you will, when my marriage failed miserably a couple years ago.  But I didn’t even know where Point B was.  I had no idea where I was headed or what it would look like when I got there.

Yesterday as I stood in my kitchen, I felt the need to stick a flag in the top of the mountain I climbed to get here as a monument to recognize the person I have become.  I have finally arrived.  My life has been patiently waiting for me to catch up and get to where I am now, in a state of contentment like I have never truly known before.   Our course isn’t always clear cut, sometimes we have to find it as we make our way through it.  Sometimes it gets messy, and treacherous, and demands more from us than we really believe we are capable of.  But here’s how I know I’ve arrived.  I’m not afraid of the mess.  I’m not afraid of the risk.  I’m not afraid to fall down and say Ouch and then get back up and try again. I’m not afraid of not knowing where I’m going or what effort it will require.  I’m not afraid of feeling a little stuck sometimes.  And I’m not afraid of going slow or even back-tracking.  Because those are the times that progress is really happening.   And I’m not waiting for the next big thing.  I’m just here.  And here is good place to be.

Progress.  We want to get from Point A to Point B.  Typically we want to rush through it as fast as possible.  But when we’re running in place, there is no visible point B.  Some days we see the progress happening before our very eyes, but it’s almost imperceptible.  Try as we might, it just isn’t happening fast enough.  Sometimes we wonder if it’s happening at all. Other days, the obstacles are plentiful, seemingly thwarting our progress altogether.  But we press on and eventually one day we wake up and we are rewarded for our efforts when we realize we made it.  Progress was happening all along, even in the moments that we felt like we were only spinning our wheels, because those are the times that make us stronger.

It took me a while to figure all that out, but it doesn’t really matter how long it took, the important thing is that I did.  I finally realized that life is made up of big and small alike. I got here.  But instead of Point B, I’m calling it Point A+, because I’m not done moving and who knows where I’ll go from here?

Full Steam Ahead

Happy New Year! How is it possibly the fourth day of the new year already?  I mean, seriously, where does the time go?!  2014 is officially off and running.  Pun intended.

I have done absolutely nothing this year and yet the days are flying by.  All I have to show for 2014 is that I’ve been to the movies twice and have removed the Christmas tree from the house.  Well, most of it anyway, with the exception of the pine needles I will still be finding until next December when I can at least pretend they are from the new tree.  In the middle of doing laundry today I decided it was time to get the dead tree out of the living room so I began dismantling it wearing only flip-flops, an oversized sweatshirt and a pink Under Armor hat.  I don’t recommend handling pokey evergreens in that get up.  I did have the common sense to throw on some sweatpants before dragging it out the front door.  Or maybe I should call that common decency and consideration for others since my neighbors were out and about on this beautiful day before we are expecting a high of 1 degree tomorrow.  But I digress. And I apologize for that visual.

This year I am training for an Ironman.  HAHAHAHA…Um, right.  So far I have swam absolutely nothing, I have looked at my bike sitting there in the corner mocking me and I have run a whopping 10 miles.  Now, in my defense, I have been fighting off the Christmas plague that everyone has been passing around this season.  My mom and Ally both had it over Christmas so I knew it was only a matter of time.

The other night I led the first social run of the year on a chilly, snowy night.  It was a small group that hovered inside the store as long as possible until we ventured out into the cold.  Steve and I had already decided to keep it short.  We managed 4 fairly well paced miles.  With about a half mile to go, Steve asked, “Did you pick it up or am I fading?”

“I think I picked it up,” I responded.

“Well, don’t let me hold you back.  Go if you feel it.” Spoken like a true running partner.  I’ve said the same to him before.

I had a pretty good kick at the end and got back to the store feeling strong.  Then we celebrated with hot cocoa and chocolate cupcakes.  Why else do you think we run?!

This morning I was up before the sun, on my way over to Castlewood to join up with the Fleet Feet trail group.  I was put in charge of being Sherpa to the “Reindeer”, which also included two “Rein-dudes” this week.  Andy had marked our 6 mile course with pink ribbons and we set off through the woods at a much more reasonable pace than what I had managed with Steve the other night.  One of my runners today was battling a knee issue, so I spent the first few miles going back and forth to check on him and then catching up with the rest of the group while grabbing the pink ribbons off the trees and stuffing them into the front of my jacket.

When we finished our group run today, I contemplated going back out for a few more miles, but seeing as I’m fighting off this stuffy-nose-hacky-cough-yuck, I decided better of it and went home to curl up under a blanket on my couch.  I turned on the TV and found the movie Perks of Being a Wallflower.  There is a line in the movie that goes, “Even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there.”

I can’t choose anything that happened last year.  Or the year before.  Or the many years before that.  But I can choose where I go from where I’m standing now.

I am constantly learning things from running.  I have learned that it’s not about how fast or slow we go, it’s just about putting in the miles.  I have learned to stop and look around once in a while so I don’t miss anything.  I have learned that sometimes I have to be smart and listen to my body when it’s telling me it’s had enough.  I have learned to take what I can from the bad running days and appreciate the good ones. I have learned that sometimes when we really don’t want to keep going, we have to.  So we just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  And eventually when we reach the finish line we realize how worth it the whole experience was.

1968 Boston Marathon winner, Amby Burfoot, was quoted in saying, “Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there is no reason to fear starting lines and new beginnings.”

It’s a new year.  There is a pretty big goal looming in November when I will take to the starting line of Ironman Arizona, but I’m ready to tackle this challenge head on. There are mistakes to be made, lessons to be learned, unknowns to be seen, adventures to be had, goals to be achieved, dreams to be fulfilled.  There will be disappointments and achievements, hurt and healing, frustration and celebration.

But I’ll never know where I can go if I choose to stand still.

2014, Full steam ahead.  Fearless.