Monthly Archives: June 2014

For Teri…

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A really special thing happened at work last week.  On Tuesday, I was busying myself with tasks at the store, when I heard a voice on the other side of the wall.  I smiled and immediately walked around the corner.  “I knew I recognized that voice!” I said, as Teri and I quickly crossed the floor towards each other and met in a hug.

“I was just about to see if you were here,” she said.

I helped Teri with shoes, called in a pair from one of the other stores and somewhere in the midst of our exchange, I exclaimed, “Hey, where’s my book!?”

“I just dropped some off!  That’s why I’m here,” she responded.  “But, hang on.  Let me get you one out of the car.”

This is my thank you letter to my friend…

Teri,

On Tuesday you made my day when you gave me a copy of your book Powered By Hope.  On Wednesday, I started reading it.  On Thursday, I finished it.  I would have finished it quicker, but ya know, I have three young children and they keep asking to eat.  There is also the small matter of work and I’m probably not supposed to read for leisure while I’m on the clock.  I’m not positive but I’m guessing they frown on that.  At any rate, I wanted to write you a note of thanks.

Thank you.  Not just for the book, but for telling your story.  Thank you for refusing to give up and for continuing to shine your light.  Thank you for taking me, for taking everyone who reads this book, on the journey with you.

It is no surprise that I was drawn to you when I met you a couple years ago.  Anyone who has ever met you, however brief an encounter, can’t help but want to remain in the room with you.  In your inscription you mentioned the time we spoke in the lobby at church.  I remember that night so clearly.  After crying my eyes out through the entire service because of the struggles in my own life (my “cancer” as you would say), I didn’t want to stop talking to you.  But when I finally left the building, I was smiling and I distinctly remember thinking, it’s going to be ok.  Regardless of how this goes, it’s going to be ok in the end.  You always have that effect on me, on everyone. You are the personification of hope.

As I read your story, I found the parallels of our endurance addiction rather humorous.  When I read about your first marathon in 2002, I almost picked up the phone to text you.  I thought of how I took to those very same streets in Chicago just the year before for my first marathon, and finished in just over 4 ½ hours…only minutes behind your initial marathon time.   And the disastrous story of your first triathlon sounds more than just a little familiar.  I swam all of twice before I hopped in the waters of Lake St. Louis a couple years ago.  The big difference being you had already mastered that skill, I was just scared and I hadn’t learned to ask for help.  Then I jumped on an antiquated Trek, (my shifters were on the down tube, seriously.)  On a non-athletic note, just like you, I was at one time a self-declared non-hugger/non-crier.  But again that was all based on fear.  Fear of exposing my own vulnerability.  Fear of letting anyone see who I really am.

While I learned the details of your story, I cried at least a thousand tears.  Because the people you speak of, your family and friends, are not just characters in a story, they are real people with real emotions.  When I read of Kati’s reaction to the news, I cried for the girl I had helped with shoes last summer.  When I read about your mom Laverne crying as she sat between you and JoAnn at chemo, I thought of the sweet, vivacious, white haired lady that came into my store just a few weeks ago.  I loved her immediately.  Helping Teri’s mom is like helping a celebrity.

I remembered last summer, sitting on the floor of FLEET FEET as Kati tried on shoes.  I mentioned that some friends were trying to convince me to go with them to volunteer at Ironman Arizona so that we could register for 2014.  I scoffed at the idea. How in the world could a working, single mom find time to train for an Ironman? But I remember you saying, “Just think about it.”  And I knew at that instant it was a done deal.  Show me where to sign on the dotted line, because it is impossible to say the words “I can’t” to Teri Griege.  If Teri can do it, well then you better believe I can give it a try.

I loved what Mimi said in her Caringbridge entry…”you must be scared before you can be courageous.”  When I ran into you at church, and when I began the journey of triathlon, I was still in the stages of admitting my fears and trying to find my courage.  You say throughout the book, there are no coincidences.  I don’t think it was a coincidence that I met you in FLEET FEET.  It’s not a coincident that our second meeting was at church.  And it’s not a coincidence that I saw you shortly after crossing the finish line of my very first triathlon.

I also don’t believe that it’s a coincidence that I have joined on as a part of your army, nor that you are a part of mine.  I won’t compare my struggles to yours, it’s not even a contest.  My struggles don’t make me question my own mortality.  But they did, for many years, make me deny who I am, which as you are well aware can also be quite devastating.  But from that time I met you at church, I have felt that you are cheering me on every step of the way to becoming who I truly am.

Triathlons have taught me so much about myself.  I’ve learned that the things in life that scare me, won’t drown me, unless I let them.  I’ve learned that I hold the power to excel at things I’ve never even tried, if I set my inadequacies and fears aside and apply myself with dedication, perseverance and passion.  And I’ve learned that there are things in life that bring me joy and those are the things I’m going to focus on in the journey to find my courage.

A couple weeks ago, I was out for a long run and I hurt my back.  I was terrified that it was so bad it might take me out of the game this year, take away my chance at Ironman Arizona.  I lay in bed that night, crying and praying, “God, please don’t take this away from me.”  The thing I was once scared to try, I am now afraid to lose.

Teri, you are literally, the reason I agreed to give Ironman Arizona a go.  I don’t ever want to take for granted the gift I have been given.  I don’t ever want to stop stepping outside of my comfort zone.  And like you, I want to inspire others to do the same.  Now that I’ve found my courage, I can honestly say, I can’t wait to hear those infamous words when I cross the finish line in Tempe on November 16.

Thank you, Teri, for your story.  For your never quit attitude.  For your joy.  For your inspiration.  For your encouragement.  And especially, thank you for helping me find my courage.  For that, I am forever grateful to you my friend.

Much love and gratitude,

Lindsey (aka-Rambling Runner Girl)

 

*Note: To preorder your copy of Teri’s book Powered By Hope: The Teri Griege Story written by Teri Griege with Amy Marxkors, visit:  https://secure.mybookorders.com/Orderpage/1382

*Another note:  I recently registered for Pedal the Cause to ride with Teri’s Team, Powered by Hope.  Please join me in the fight against cancer at: http://stlouis.pedalthecause.org/riders_profile.jsp?MemberID=30211

 

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15 Miles Down Memory Lane

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We all have a history.  We all have those certain places where from the moment we arrive we are hit with a wave of nostalgia that washes over us and drenches us in memories of the past.

Having moved around a fair amount as a kid, I actually have several of those places.  While I didn’t grow up in New Buffalo, MI, I did spend at least a week of every summer of my life here.  So, it’s sort of the thread that runs through all the various parts of my life.  It has always been a safe haven, an escape from reality, a breath of fresh air.

This week we had a few days in the middle of the week when I didn’t have to work and the kids didn’t have camp or any other activities, so we decided that this week our “Wednesday Adventure Day” would be a multiple day adventure to visit Grandma.  As soon as we hit Exit 1 from 94 and headed into town, the boys started yelling, “I can see the water!”  “Hey, look the train tracks!” and “I remember that place!”  Of course they remember, they’ve been here literally hundreds of times.  But this is the first trip back since last summer so it comes flooding over us with shouts of excitement.

Yesterday was rainy, so we didn’t get to do all the things we had so enthusiastically chattered about in the car on the way up 55.  We did manage to sneak in a quick walk on the beach between rain showers and a burger at Redamak’s (If you’ve ever been there, I know you are jealous right now).  I also kicked off the trip down memory lane by looking through some old family photo albums.  I was in search of a newspaper article from 4th grade to clear up a conversation I had recently been having with Stephanie and Inga at one of our monthly lunch dates.  But instead I came across some pictures from our 6th grade production of Dear Abby (It may have been 5th grade, which year did we do Tom Sawyer?).  And there in our family album sat a picture of my very own handsome beau, Brian at age 11, as Thomas Jefferson.  Funny that he’s been sitting in that album for almost 30 years.

Fortunately, today we awoke to a shining sun.  So, Grandma took the kids over to the beach and I set out on a run down memory lane.  I was planning on 21ish miles, but as we all know, nothing ever really goes according to plan.  I ran the same route that I always run when I’m here.  Over the bridge, past the beach and out the lake road.  The big differentiator is always where I turn around.  Rarely is it ever before Gintara’s Resort where I spent so many summers of my youth.  It’s really the perfect picture of what you’d consider memory lane, tree lined with cross streets like Breezy Lane, Shady Lane and Apple Ave.

It’s funny how the past and the present can come crashing together in a place like that.  All the new construction which has taken the place of some of the older homes that once stood on that lake mixed in with familiar landmarks like Camp Sokol and ladies in the rocking chairs on the porch at the Lakeside Inn.

I ran along just fine all the way to the end of Lakeshore Road, where it ends at Red Arrow Highway.  The out and back would put me at 15 miles, so I’d still have to do a loop through town.  I turned around and started back towards where I had been.  I saw the little Dutch woman on her bike again and she smiled.  I also ran past the cutie-patootie with the backwards baseball hat again and he waved.  (Hey, I might be in a relationship but I’m not blind.  And we all know I love a visor or a backwards baseball hat.  Don’t judge me.)  Shortly after that, my lower back started bothering me.  What is this?!  My legs feel good.  I’m not the least bit tired. Why is my back hurting?

As athletes we have conditioned ourselves to press on through the pain.  We overlook the ache of fatigued muscles and we occasionally ignore the twinges of pain in our (Achilles, calf, knee, Fill in the blank).  We take more than the recommended dosage of Ibuprofen in order to get through a particularly difficult workout.  But stop before we’ve completed what we have set out to do?  Not a chance.   So, of course, I continued running.

That is, until I hit mile 12 where the tweak in my back grew increasingly worse.  It was time for me to take an energy gel, so I slowed to walk and pulled one from the pocket of my shorts.  I contemplated what to do.  I deemed that 21 miles were probably out of the question today, but I wondered if I should call my mom and have her and the kids come pick me up.  I decided to walk for a mile or so and see if that helped.  And so I walked, back past Apple Ave and many other familiar sights.  The thing you need to understand here is, I don’t walk.  I don’t like walking.  And I felt otherwise fantastic so walking was especially painful at this venture.  It’s a pride thing.  It feels incomplete.  Beyond that, I can’t really explain it.

At Mile 13, I picked it up again.  My back still hurt.  It wasn’t as bad, but it was still there and quite prevalent.  I decided I could make it back to Mom’s, which would put me just over 15 on the day and I’d probably have to call it there.

Once I got back, I took some ibuprofen to help with the inflammation that I’m sure was causing my back troubles.  I still had so much energy that it was a disappointing end to my run.  I debated what to do?  Do I think I could have pushed myself those last 6 miles?  Absolutely.  Do I think that would have been the best move?  Not likely.  Think long term goal here…

But cutting my run short today doesn’t mean that’s the anti-climactic end to the story, it means there is more of the story to be written.

Our bodies, and our hearts, are designed to feel pain.  And while it is sometimes ok to test our limits with some types of pain, we have to consider what happens when we ignore pain for too long.  Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.  Even when we mask it, it’s still there. But not dealing with it has the potential to cause long term damage, sometimes irreparable damage.  Pain is a sucky, albeit necessary, part of life.  And we have to be able to discern when to persevere through the pain and when to listen, hearing its instructions to change directions.

Here’s what I know.  I ignored a lot of pain for a lot of years.  I masked it however I could.  But it didn’t go away.  Once I finally acknowledged it and altered the route I was on, I put an end to the ailments it caused for so long because I allowed it to heal adequately.  And ultimately I have been rewarded for that.  More than I ever could have imagined.

My past and my present combine to make me who I am.  And this is exactly where I want to be.

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Legs Strong, Heart Stronger

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I’m tired.  I’m so tired.

Last week after working all 3 days of the holiday weekend, I had just a couple hours of quiet time before being launched into a 23 day stint of having my kids Every. Single. Day.

Their dad is litigating a trial in Florida this month so he really isn’t able to come back at all.  And so here we are in the midst of that. And I am exhausted.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love having them full time.  But as any parent knows, kids are a lot of work.  And as any single parent will tell you, there is something to be said for shared custody.  It’s called…getting a break.  My break will come in July when the kids go on vacation with their dad for a week, but until then, pure exhaustion.

The first week of summer vacation went by with a flourish.  We did trips to the pool, a visit to the library, and our “adventure day” at the zoo.  We’ve done play dates here and play dates there.  On Friday while I worked, the kids spent the whole day at 6 Flags with friends.  And even with all that activity, the “I’m Bored” Board that we created has been getting lots of use.

But training doesn’t exactly stop because of the custody arrangement and a lack of school.  My workouts have been fewer and farther between, but I’ve been making them count.

On Saturday, I had a sitter come bright and early so I could help coach the Fleet Feet trail group.  I ran a 6 mile loop with my “Grizzly Bears” and then, since I was there and had some time, I continued on for several more miles.  Today while the kids were at camp I rode 50 miles on the bike, followed by a 3 mile run, in the heat of the day.  So, I guess I can’t blame my fatigue entirely on my children.

On Saturday, while I was running, I felt great.  I felt amazing.  I felt like I could run forever.  As Brian so aptly pointed out to me, there is something to be said for rest.  True.  With the exception of a 1.5 mile run around the lake with Ethan the day before, this was my first form of exercise since my run Monday evening between dinner with Brian and the kids coming back to me.  My legs were fresh and I was so ready to tear up the trails.

After a nice, easy paced 6 mile loop with my group, I went on to complete the long course.  One of the girls from Rosie’s group joined me for a couple miles.  I distinctly remember talking about how trail running is how I forget about the numbers and get back to my love of running.  Sometimes you just have to leave the Garmin at home and run, but not necessarily when you need to get in specific mileage.  About that time, Andy hooked up with us from a different part of the trail.  We ran to the stairs and when they headed up to the bluff, I headed out into the flats to cover some additional ground.  Andy warned me that it would be muddy, he was right.  I only went about a mile in and decided it wasn’t worth fighting the clay that was causing me to slide around uncontrollably.  So I turned back and at about 9.5 miles my Garmin beeped. “Low Battery”.  What?!  It was charged to 100%.  Eh, no worries, I should still be able to finish off this run before it dies.  Or so I thought. ..

I got back to the stairs and started the climb.  I was not terribly disappointed that a large group of Boy Scouts was coming down the stairs, forcing me to slow down as I ascended the narrow stairway.  About halfway up, I picked up the pace to the top.  I took in the view for a second as I caught my breath and then continued on along the ridge.  I kept checking my Garmin, it hadn’t beeped again so I thought surely the battery wasn’t too low.  I stopped at one of the overlooks and took a quick picture.  As soon as I started running again, I glanced at my Garmin and found the screen blank.  Mocking me.  “Really, Lindsey?  How is that no Garmin thing working out for you now?”

And the calculations began.  Last I had checked I was at 10.25ish.  And from where I was on the bluff, I had just about a mile back to the parking lot.  I got back to the car, left the extra weight of the watch there, and took a Gu and an extra swing of water.  I was estimating that I was at just over 11 miles at that point.  I needed to do 16.  But I felt ok about going a little further.  So I decided to go back to the 6 mile loop I had done earlier with the Grizzlies.  I wasn’t as familiar with that part of the park and Andy had asked us to take down the pink ribbons he’d used to mark the trail, but I was pretty sure I could figure it out.  A couple times I was a little unsure that I was on the right path, but then I’d see a landmark that would remind me, Oh right, this is where we were when I was telling Sheila the story of being rescued off a mountain in South Africa.  (Yes, that has actually happened.  It’s a story for another time.)

Eventually I made my way down the hill, across the road and headed for the creek.  I wasn’t super stoked about the creek crossing the first time since it was still so early in my run, but the second time through, with only a mile to go and the heat rising, the cold creek water felt amazing.  I wound around by the creek on Grotpeter Trail for that last mile and finally slowed to a walk in the parking lot.  It was weird to look at my wrist and just see flesh where the Garmin would normally be.  No stop button to hit.  I estimated a total mileage somewhere around 17.5.  It was one of those rare days that I felt so good I wanted to keep going.  But since my sitter needed me to be home so she could go to a wedding, I was out of time.

Not all workouts come that easy though.  Today I did a 50 mile ride.  My longest solo ride ever.  My second longest ride ever.  Second only to the 56 miles I rode during the Racine half Ironman last July.  Something about being in a race setting makes it easier to go the distance.  The crowd, the adrenaline, the support crew at the aid stations.  And all the other athletes doing the race with you.  But today, I was on my own.

I set out on my bike in Rockwood Reservation and within the first mile I was already making excuses to cut my ride short.  It went something like this…I don’t really need to go 50 miles today do I?  45 should be plenty.  40 would be good.  30 is still ok, I’ll stop there.  I could just do 25, or 20, get in a quick run and then have a nice relaxing afternoon at the pool.  Wait…WHAT?!  Lindsey, c’mon!  Get with it.  You’re in this for the long haul today.  Who knows when you’ll have another whole day to do this.

I was strong for a while, and then the mind games would start again.  Then I saw a mama deer and her baby.  I was constantly being pelted by the butterflies that seemed to be raining up from the pavement.  I almost crashed when a squirrel darted out in front of my tire.  I chuckled at the muskrats hustling across the road.  I could have done without the dead armadillo sighting.

By that last mile, my back hurt.  My feet hurt. (I desperately need new cycling shoes)  My face was salty and gritty.  I was slimy from sweat mixed with sunscreen.   My shoulders were covered with bug guts.  Gross.

I changed my shoes, exchanged my helmet for a visor, ditched my gloves and locked my bike to the car.  And then I took off for a run.  First mile, sub 9 minute pace, I was so happy to be in running shoes.  Second mile, I was going up a slight grade so I was a little slower.  Third mile, the shade was gone.  I needed water.  I wanted this to be over.  I actually ran past my car with a half mile to go.  The desire to quit and just jump in the car was over-powering.  But I kept going.  One foot in front of the other.  Why?  Because my heart is stronger than my body.  And my mind.

Why do I do this?  Why do I torment myself with training for something as grueling as an Ironman?  Because life is hard.  Because even though I know that my legs are capable of carrying me anywhere I want to go, my mind is the thing that shows up with the doubts of “can you REALLY do this?”  And that’s when my heart has to prove that it’s the strongest part of me.

I say it all the time, what I lack in speed and ability, I make up for it with heart and determination.  I train for marathons, for triathlons, for an Ironman because it reminds me that no matter what I can keep going.

I will get through these 23 days with my kids.  And then it will be over.  And then I’ll wake up and they’ll be in college.  Sometimes the hard parts seem like they will last forever, but they won’t.  And deep down I know this, even when my brain tries to make me doubt it.

So, that’s why I train.  To remind myself that my legs are strong, but my heart is stronger.

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