Rambling Runner Girl reporting live from the other side of the Mississippi. Merry Christmas from Quincy!
Today while I was out for a run, a quote by Olympian Kara Goucher kept playing over and over in my mind. “That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.”
A couple weeks ago, I led the group run at Lifetime on a Tuesday night. It was an easy 5 mile course that I had run before, so it shouldn’t have been terribly difficult. But after all that I have put my body through this year, I was beginning to feel broken. I decided to allow myself a break for the last couple weeks of 2013.
I raced a lot this year. I ran the Vancouver Marathon in May, the Chicago Marathon in October and was prepared to run the Tecumseh Trail Marathon earlier this month. I completed several half marathons, two 200+ mile relays, the Pere Marquette endurance trail race and a few 5 and 10k’s. I stretched myself and reached new heights by completing a half Ironman in Racine in July.
All of those are great accomplishments that I am proud of, but like Kara said, those successes don’t begin to truly capture all that my life is. Since my decided break from running, I’ve been taking it easy. Let’s be real, we all knew I wasn’t going to just stop running for two weeks. So my “break” has been a break from any kind of running agenda. No stress. No schedule. Just running what I feel when I feel like it. I’ve run only when it’s convenient, no more than 6 miles, at a nice easy pace. I’ve taken a couple days off at a time and let my body rest. Not something that comes easy to me, but something that needed to happen. I am using this time to fall in love with running all over again. Today was a perfect example of that.
Yesterday after I finished work, my mom and the kids picked me up and we made the drive up 61 to Hannibal and across the river to Quincy. The whole Jacobs clan was converging on this tiny Midwestern town for a fun old-fashioned family Christmas. Cousins and uncles had flown in from California, Minneapolis, Boston and DC. Other cousins had driven in from various parts of Illinois. We pulled up to my Uncle Tim’s farm house and it wasn’t long before everyone else started to arrive. The counter was filling with food, the house was filling with people and my heart was filled to overflowing as I looked around at so many of the people that I love. My kids played with cousins, we drank wine and mint punch, we placed gifts under the tree. I sat in the kitchen with my cousins’ girlfriends and my Uncle Curt’s best friend Julie who I’ve known my entire life, and it occurred to me, By Golly, we’ve got Girls in this family now! Growing up I was constantly surrounded by boys, which would probably explain a few things about me.
By the time I joined the group working on the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle the border was already complete. Some would pop in and out to help with the puzzle, but for the most part the die-hards were the same as usual and they stayed to completion. We had a white elephant gift exchange that filled the house with laughter. We are a wacky crew, but we are always ready with open arms for anyone who dares join us. I couldn’t have imagined being anywhere else. And while there were several who were missing, we spoke of them fondly and wished that they were with us.
Eventually the party wound down and everyone started to return to their places of slumber. The kids and I were staying at the farm. While tucking Silas into one of the twin bunk beds in the “Bunk Room” where there are 10 twin beds (no joke) I said, “Ok, I will just lay down with you for a minute” and the next thing I knew he was asking where his clothes were so he could get dressed.
This morning, everyone slowly gathered in the kitchen for coffee. A few went off to have coffee at the Park Bench, mostly the aunts and uncles. My cousins slowly roused and we made plans for the day. We got a text declaring “Maid-rite at 12:30, spread the word”. It was at that point that I decided to go for a run before loading my body with the toxins of Maid-rite. Delicious as they may be, they are still taking years off my life, I’m sure.
I did a quick change, grabbed my gear, left my 10 year old daughter in charge of a house full of my cousins (knowing that she is by far the most responsible among those that were there) and I drove over to my Grandma’s house to start my run from there. It made more sense than running by the farm which would put me on some more dangerous roads. I opted for safe and quaint. I parked in the driveway and ran towards town, mostly just an out and back on 24th Street. It wasn’t a particularly scenic route, but one that I had run many times before.
I ran to Maine Street and then I turned around and ran back to Grandma’s. I ran past a police officer who had set up a check point at 24th and Harrison. As I ran by he asked, “You got your seatbelt on?” I smiled.
Actually, I smiled the whole time I was running. I usually do smile when I run, unless you happen to catch me at one of those moments when I’m sporting a look of pure determination. But seriously, I was smiling today. My heart was overflowing. I couldn’t have been happier. And like Kara said, running was allowing me one of those moments that I was able to see just how wonderful my life is.
I’ll be honest, I was worried about Christmas this year. It was my first Christmas Eve without my babies. But I managed to not just get through it, instead I came through it soaring. I have been blessed this holiday season with the presence of family and friends and even some unexpected surprises. I didn’t receive many gifts that required unwrapping, but I did receive gifts in abundance; gifts that are above and beyond anything that could ever be bought. And while I ran today, I remembered that the spirit of Christmas can’t be contained to one day of the year. I may only see my whole family a couple times a year and I may only have my kiddos 50% of the time, but they fill my heart all year long.
My races of 2013 are accomplishments that no one can take away from me, but my true success in life is knowing where my heart is.