Welcome Back to the Unknown

Ya know those moments in life where you’re just kinda cruising along and you start thinking to yourself, “Hey, I’m doing alright. I totally got this.”  And then there’s a shift in the wind and suddenly you’re like, “Oh, wait…Welcome to the unknown”   Or should I say, welcome back to the unknown?

I’ve been a single mom for a little over three years now. It’s been a bigger challenge than I ever could have imagined.  But I have my days where I’m like, “Oh yeah, I ‘ve got this down.  I’m totally kicking butt. No problem.”  Our weekly schedule is a little crazy, especially on Wednesdays when it looks like this: Out the door by 7:45am with lunches in hand and the crockpot set for dinner, drop the kids at school by 8, drive the hour in traffic to the Central West End and pray that I can find rock star street parking not more than a few blocks from the hospital, walk (or run) into Siteman for my externship hours, at the stroke of 4:00 bolt back to the car, the kids have been picked up by a friend and dropped at home for Ally to be in charge until I get there, drive the hour back to Wildwood, burst in the door (by 5pm if I’m lucky) hoping that homework is done and Silas is at least partially changed for soccer practice, change clothes, sign off on homework, shovel food down the kids throats, try to remember to eat something myself, leave again by 5:40 to get Silas to practice in the valley by 6 (tonight we snuck a quick stop in to their grandparents’ house to pick up some of Ally’s forgotten items), drive across the valley to drop Ally at the church for youth group, drive back over to the ballfields so I can get in a quick couple miles before practice ends at 7:15, drive home, put Silas in the shower, clean up the kitchen, finish the homework, go pick Ally up from youth group by 8:30 (I lucked out tonight and she got a ride home), get Silas into bed, get Ethan into bed, sink down into a chair somewhere and finally take a breath.

Wow. That’s a day.  But I’ve gotten somewhat accustomed to the craziness and doing it *mostly* on my own.  I’ve very thankful for my villiagers who help how they can.  But I’m used to being on a minute to minute schedule most days.  And, if I do say so myself, I’m doing alright.  Not perfect mind you, but alright.  I’m keeping the boat afloat.

So here we are going along, doing our thing, but yesterday Silas threw me for a little bit of a loop. After not seeing the kids all weekend, I arrived home to hugs and chaos.  After about a minute, Silas said, “Hey Mom!  Guess whaaaaat?” with the last part of the word going up a few notes in that sing-songy way that kids do when they want to spill the beans.


“We have some news!”

My mind was spinning with, ‘Oh please let him say he lost another tooth, or they had pizza for lunch, or something…’ but I already knew what he was about to say.

“On Saturday…Dad engaged Katie!” He was beaming.  I was too, just because of how cute he was with his verbiage.

“Oh yeah? Your dad proposed to Katie? Are you excited?”


I sat with that a minute. I wasn’t surprised in the least.  Even though they started dating around March of this year, I fully expected things would go quickly.  Call it gut instinct, women’s intuition, whatever.  I really was ok with it.  But I’m still processing the fact that my kids are about to have several members added to their family, people who I really don’t even know.  That’s kind of weird.  Kind of like that change in the wind I mentioned earlier.  Katie currently lives in Iowa with her 3 kids.  They will be married and moved in by Christmas.  Maybe instead of a light breeze, that’s more like a big gust.

Tonight after dropping Ally at youth group I drove back over to the Chesterfield Athletic complex where Silas was at practice. I had plans to get in a couple miles on the levee if I could scrounge up a headlamp in the car. I pulled the car into an empty space, pilfered through the running bag I keep in back, scored a headlamp with non-dead batteries and had all of 35 minutes until practice would end. It was still light enough when I started but the sun was already beneath the horizon, so I knew it was only a matter of time.  My first mile out, with the wind at my back, seemed easy and my feet cruised along the old familiar path.  At a mile and a half, I turned back to wind in my face and it got darker with each step.  I turned on the headlamp, which helped a little, but since I was also wearing a visor, some of the light was blocked.  Oh well, I would adjust.  I was dealing with the challenges, but I was still doing just fine.  My mind went back to a conversation with Ethan last night at bed time.

As I was tucking him in, he was telling me that Katie’s youngest would be in his class since they are less than a year apart in age.

I said, “You’re pretty excited, aren’t you?”

“Yes!” He responded. After a pause, he leaned over the top bunk to look at me, with a big smile and concerned eyes, he asked, “Are you, Mom?  Are you excited?”

“Am I…um, what? Excited?  Uh…”  I admit I wasn’t very graceful in the moment, I mean how in the world do you answer that?  But I recovered fairly quickly.  “Bud, if you are happy, then I am happy.  I’m glad you are excited.”

He smiled. I smiled.  Then I kissed him on the top of his head, as is our custom, and said “Good-night, bud, I love you.”

So, during my run tonight, I was thinking. Am I excited?  No, that’s not the word.  How do I feel? I’m not upset in any way.  It’s weird, for sure, to think about it.  And like I said, I’m still processing.  But I’m ok.  It creates a new dynamic, like wind or running in the dark, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.  It will take some getting used to, but we’ll adjust and in time it will just be what we’re all used to.

As Silas’ team came back into view, the lights of the field were much brighter than my headlamp. I could see them down on the field, running, playing, having fun.  And I thought, “I really do just want my kids to be happy and taken care of.   And if they have one more person (or several) in their lives to love them, then that just adds to their happiness.  As a single parent, all you can really hope for is that if your former spouse finds someone to share your children with, that this new person is good to your kids.  It’s the ultimate in letting go of control.  And it’s ok if I’m not always graceful when I feel like I’m running into the wind, in the dark.  I’ll adjust, and recover, and keep going.

As I neared the end of my run, I found myself praying…

God, help me with forgiveness. Help me continue to let go of what I thought my life should look like and help me to be gracious, always. God, Bless the union that is going to bring two families together and please protect my babies in that.  And God…bless the woman who is about to take on the new challenge of being a step-mother to my 3 amazing kiddos, carry her as she enters unfamiliar territory.  And guide her when she feels like she’s alone in the dark.  Show her grace and mercy and remind her that she isn’t alone.

As I prayed I noticed a lump forming in my throat. I know exactly what to pray for her, because it’s what I pray for me all the time.

It’s tough to run and cry at the same time, it really just makes you start to hyperventilate.

And God…please help me to remember to breathe.


The Beauty of Sport

Whoever first made the statement, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” must have been made of steel. Because from my personal experience, words have the ability to hurt a whole lot more than anything physical could.

Sportsmanship is defined as “an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one’s competitors.” But from what I’ve witnessed over the past week, from both sides of the fence, fairness, ethics, respect and fellowship all seem to be lacking from sports on many levels.  Allow me to share some examples.

I am a Cubs fan. Ok, ok, make your jokes, I’ll wait…but I promise that you won’t come up with anything original that I haven’t heard before.  I mean seriously, I am a Cubs fan living in St. Louis, trust me when I say that some of the more personal attacks can actually hurt my feelings.  The NLCS has been somewhat painful to watch, my Cubs going down in flames with a grandeur even the most loyal fans could not have anticipated.  I’m sitting here writing this because I can’t stand the pain of watching the Mets destroy us any longer.  However, last week, when we won the NLDS, it was glorious.  But as is always the case with sports, there is a winner and a loser.  After the final game of the series the other night, the kids asked if we could go up to Mobile On the Run for 50 cent slushies (there is a deal here that when the Cardinals score 6 runs, the next day you can get fountain drinks, coffee and slushies on the cheap)  Anyway, we went up to the store, me in my Cubs shirt, Silas in his Cardinals shirt, and the cashier was teasing me, “Hey, we don’t serve Cubs fans here!”  His teasing was light hearted, there is a difference.  It’s a game.  It’s supposed to be FUN!

As I turned to leave with the kids, he said, “Actually, I hope they win it all.” The man behind me, loudly and angrily said, “I DON’T.”  Everyone in the store was taken aback by his hostility.  One woman said, “Why?”  He got right in my face, with my kids standing there watching, and practically spat the words on me, “Because I HATE Chicago”.  With my eyebrows raised, I made the Okay then face and we calmly left the building.  When we got in the car, my kids asked why that man was so angry.  I assured them it had more to do with his own life than it did with baseball.  The kids caught the tears in my eyes when the Cubs won and asked why I was crying.  My response, “Because your Grandpa would have loved this.”  But they didn’t see the tears I cried later for that man whose name I do not know, he has obviously been wounded and so he wounds.

Skip forward a few days to Saturday when I got to watch my Spartans take on our biggest rival the University of Michigan wolverines. With a couple minutes left in the game, the Spartans were down by 2 with a chance to score. But they failed to convert at 4th down and 19, so the wolverines had the ball again.  With only 10 seconds left their kicker, who had scored almost half of their 23 points for the day came out to punt, but the placement was wrong, UM fumbled the ball and the Spartans ran it back for a touchdown to win 23-27 with no time left on the clock.  Despite my prediction to Brian that it was indeed possible, even I didn’t really expect it to happen.  It was a shocker to anyone watching.  As a Spartan, I celebrated.  As a human being, I was sad to learn that the young Australian kicker has since received death threats because of it.  Sad.  Just sad. Where are the priorities?

As a Spartan fan, I am used to winning. (March Madness anyone?)  As a Cubs fan, I am used to losing.  Sad, but true.  As a Jacobs, I have learned to do both graciously, sportsmanship.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

While I watched my Spartans win, and my Cubbies lose to the Mets in game 1 on Saturday, the best game I watched that day was my 10 year old’s soccer game. Silas’ game was great too, it ended in a tie.  But there was something really special about Ethan’s game.  One of his best friends from school was on the other team and they played hard against each other.  At the end of the 4-0 game, which team won is actually irrelevant, the boys found each other and Drew, the score forgotten, immediately asked, “Can Ethan come over to our house?”  Drew’s dad and I worked out the details and they were off.  Sportsmanship at it’s finest.

So why is it that when we grow up it becomes more acceptable, even expected, to talk smack? Especially among fans who aren’t even in the lineup?  Especially when the teasing pushes way past light hearted fun and becomes bitter and hurtful.  The answer: It’s NOT acceptable.  If we really want our kids to remember to practice sportsmanship, we have to continue to practice it ourselves.

Go on and celebrate when your team wins. Absolutely! Cheer to your hearts content, but remember how to cross the field and shake hands with the other team.  It’s reasonable to feel sad when your team loses, but hang your head only for a moment and then raise it high again.  And remember to congratulate the other team, and then try to learn something from the loss.  Learning from our mistakes and our losses is a necessary part of life.

In a press conference earlier today, that young college kicker said, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go again. That’s the beauty of sport.”  Yes, there is even beauty in losing.  You can try again.

And because of that, I will continue to love my teams. Even my Cubs.  Being a Cubs fan is about so much more than baseball to me.

It’s about a legacy, I am a 6th generation Cubs fan.  And I am more proud of being a Jacobs than I am almost anything else in my life.

It’s about loyalty, staying true through the good and the bad. Even if it’s mostly bad.

It’s about texts with my brother, my uncle, my cousins when Baez redeems himself by hitting a homerun or Schwarber hits a bomb that will remain on top of the Wrigley Field scoreboard.

It’s about learning to live in the moment and celebrate the victories we’re given, because we are never guaranteed another opportunity.

It’s about learning to accept defeat. And knowing that winning isn’t everything.

It’s about being gracious in any and every situation. (If some other jerk Cubs fan has run his mouth to you, I am not responsible for his behavior, so please don’t hold it against me.)

It’s about sportsmanship. One of my favorite quotes from my dad was this, “Don’t throw the equipment.  It’s not the equipment’s fault.”  It’s also not your opponents fault.

It’s about memories.  So many memories. Some that make me laugh and some that make me cry.

It’s about knowing that my 90 year old Grandma is watching the game too.

It’s about tradition. It’s about family.  It’s about hope.  It’s about having a connection to a man that I loved dearly and I look forward to seeing again some day.

My dad didn’t get to see a Cubs World Series win in his lifetime. Neither did my Grandpa.  And there is a chance I won’t either.  If you want to throw your world series wins in my face or pick on my team for losing, I’ll deal with that.  But the personal attacks are the ones that bother me. You can call it “teasing” but putting someone down is bullying, plain and simple.  I assure you my IQ is just fine and yeah, sometimes I am a “loser”, but aren’t we all on some occasions? I can’t say that some of those things don’t hurt, but I can say they still won’t change who I am.  After all is said and done, I’m a Jacobs.  And being a Cubs fan is just in my blood. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I hope that at the end of the day, or the end of the game, or the season, that Ethan gets his example of sportsmanship from me. And I really hope he doesn’t grow out of that.  Because just like that young kicker said, “That’s the beauty of sport.”

My cousin Chuck's facebook post the other night. I love my family.

My cousin Chuck’s facebook post the other night. I love my family.

This is My 40

A couple weeks ago I did a triathlon. It wasn’t a very long triathlon, and I wouldn’t exactly say I trained for it, but it was my first and only tri of 2015. A year ago I was preparing to go to Arizona to complete an Ironman, but this year a lot happened…school, sickness, recovery. Like I said, it wasn’t a very long tri (.75 swim, 18 bike, 5 run) but it included my only open water swim since Tempe Town Lake last November.

The NEMO tri (which stands for Northeast Missouri) was one that I had been contemplating for the better part of a year. You see, it’s the one and only tri my mom has ever done. She did it when she was my age, on the cusp of 40. And she did it with my dad on the course. He was the runner of his team, but he was there.

So, a couple Saturdays ago, Brian and I made the drive over to Columbia, then north to the small town we grew up in. I only lived there for 5 years of my youth, Brian’s family is still there. I’ve only been back a handful of times since I moved away in 1989 but the memories are still as fresh as ever.

We rolled into town a few minutes before the athlete meeting at the Thompson Center was supposed to start, but I figured I could get checked in and get my biked checked before. As we approached the building, that from the outside looked exactly the same as it had 26 years ago, the memories started flooding back. Memories of my first ever mile race that ended in that parking lot, I ran 7 minutes flat. What I would give to still be able to do that!

We walked through the doors, the set up had changed, but as we walked toward the stairs, I stopped suddenly and pointed to the exact spot where my dad bought me a Mickey Mantle baseball card well over half my life ago.

We walked down stairs and into the main hallway. To the right were the racketball courts where my parents were playing wally-ball the day my brother fell off the jungle gym in our back yard and I had to call them to come home so he could get stitches over his eye. Eventually, we walked into the big gym, which didn’t seem nearly as huge as I remembered, but I had spent hours shooting baskets as a pre-teen.

I signed my waiver and got my packet, which we took to the car in exchange for my bike and helmet. We went back to the gym, got my stickered that it was approved for racing before returning it to the rack on the car. We still had a few minutes before the meeting, so we grabbed a seat and watched the other athletes shuffling in.

Brian said, “That guy has been the director here forever.” I turned and looked to see who he was talking about. And a name I hadn’t said in almost 3 decades, instantly rolled off my tongue. “Dan Martin”, a person who was instrumental in encouraging my love of running at the ripe old age of 9. I guarantee he is the one who handed my first trophy at my first 5k all those years ago.

We sat there looking around and I’m quite sure Brian could tell I was trying to hold the tears at bay as I said, “I didn’t expect it to be this emotional…”

We sat through the meeting and waited to say a quick hello to Dan, who had been trying to figure out why I looked so familiar. “You look exactly like your mom the last time I saw her!” It’s true, people say it all the time. Even our voices are the same. Even my dad couldn’t tell us apart on the phone.

Before we headed to Brian’s parents’ house we drove out to Thousand Hills State Park so I could preview the course a bit. I remembered the huge hill I was going to have to climb immediately after mounting the bike, but I wanted to see if my memory was correct. As we pulled into the park, we came to the playground. Some of the equipment was different, but them memories were still there. We parked and found the little trail that leads to the “cave”. We walked down the hill and found it. I loved that cave as a kid. I used to walk down there and imagine myself an explorer, like I was the first one who found it. I’m sure every other kid who grew up there did the exact same thing. B and I read the names that were written all over the rocks, looking for people we knew. Then we made our way back up the hill to the car and drove over to the transition area/finish that was already set up in anticipation of the next morning.

Yes, that hill was pretty much exactly what I remembered. It was a doozy. All of the hills were. I felt my nerves flare up in my stomach a little, but I told myself not to worry about it until tomorrow.

We left the park and drove past where Leo’s roller rink had been, I spent so many Friday nights there skating to the sounds of Madonna and Phil Collins. My first kiss was there in the coat area. We used to make “suicides” mixing all the different flavors from the soda machine. And we ate giant dill pickles. I had my own skates that I carried in a purple skate case, with a care bear keychain.

We spent the evening with Brian’s family. I had promised Silas I would take pictures of the baby cows for him. We grilled and ate chicken and pork chops. Brian pulled out some old school projects and we went through them seeing who all I remembered from his school days before I came to Kirksville Upper Elementary. Which has since been renamed Ray Miller Upper Elementary, for my principal and outstanding basketball coach. Brian’s sister came over with her kiddos for a while. We turned on the Michigan State football game and one by one everyone started turning in for the night. I organized my race gear and I managed to stay up long enough to see my Spartans win it against Oregon.

Then I climbed into bed and turned out the light in the room where Brian had slept as a kid. Funny, if you had told me then where I would be now, I don’t really know what I would have thought.

The alarm went off at 5:25 am. But I had already been awake off and on for a while. I rolled out of bed and started getting ready. Brian poured me some coffee in the kitchen. I made a peanut butter sandwich and grabbed a banana. We loaded up the car and by 6am we were on our way to the course. It was in the 50’s, but the air didn’t feel as cool as I expected. We got to the park, I got my body markings, set up my bike and the rest of my gear in transition. I debated about whether or not to wear my wetsuit and ultimately decided against it, as I always do, but second guessed my decision until I didn’t have a choice anymore.

Brian and I were sitting in the car to stay warm and relax since I still had plenty of time until I had to get on the shuttle to the swim start. He could tell I was nervous. He put a hand to my cheek.

I’ve done an Ironman. Why in the world am I so nervous about THIS?!

The truth is, I was scared. I was scared of how much it would hurt, of how hard that hill would be. I was scared of being weak, of overdoing it and ending up in the hospital again. I was scared of not honoring my memories of this place well.

I knew there were only 3 people in my age group, so all I had to do was finish and I was pretty much guaranteed a spot on the podium. But that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to earn it.

Eventually it was time to go. I had been talking to the girls who were set up in transition next to me, and I decided to follow them to the shuttle. I gave B a quick kiss and said I would see him after the swim. Turns out one of the girls I was talking to, is the wife of an old friend of Brian’s.

I rode the shuttle over to the beach. I found a few other non-wetsuit-wearers and hung around them. Turns out, one of those guys is a friend of Brian’s sister who she had mentioned the night before. I took it as a good omen that I was meeting people I had some sort of connection to. It calmed me.

I waded into the water. The sun was up now and the air was hovering around 60 degrees, but the water was 74 so it felt like getting into a bath. I acclimated to the water. They shot the cannon sending off the individual men. Then they gave the rest of us a countdown, and 3 minutes later we were underway.

I knew once I got going some of the anxiety would dissipate. It did. I’m still not a fast swimmer, but this time I felt like a swimmer. I had predicted 30 minutes for myself. I just kept breathing when I needed to and making my way from one buoy to the next. At one point, I took a breath and I could see a row of cabins on the hill. The same cabins that the whole Jacobs side had rented for a week one summer. Memories flooding back. Keep breathing, keep swimming. And finally, Dan helped me out of the water in almost exactly 30 minutes. I ran towards T1, waved to Brian, shoved half a banana in my mouth and the other half in my pocket, then got on my bike to tackle that hill. I actually passed a couple people on my way up. I don’t know why I stress about hills, if there is one thing I know about myself, it’s that I’m a climber. I rode past the playground and thought about that cave. I thought about how far I’ve come since my younger days there. And I kept peddling.

We rode out of the park and at the 9 mile mark, we turned around and rode back. I continued to pass people, mostly on the uphills. When we got back into the park, I had to go down that massive hill. I think I’m more afraid of going down than up. Steve in particular likes to tease me about how I ride my brakes going down steep hills. When I got to the bottom, I saw B as I passed. I said hi, he looked surprised to see me there already. I had finished the bike about 10 minutes faster than I anticipated.

I racked my bike, ditched my helmet, changed shoes and headed out for the run. The 2.5 miles out were almost entirely uphill. I knew I had to keep my heart rate under control. I ran past those cabins again and then onto a brand new paved path through the woods. It was tough, but beautiful. Finally after the turn around, there was one more short up hill and then the rest of the way was pretty much downhill to the finish. I was almost done. I had done a good job of finding balance between pushing myself hard, but not so hard I ended up back in a hospital bed. Just before I got to the finish I saw B and made silly faces for the camera. Then I cruised into the finish and it was done. I felt good. I felt really good. I kept saying I was surprised at how good I felt.  I was tired, but not totally wrecked.

I had hoped to finish in under 2:45. I was surprised to learn that I finished in 2:24 and change, and earned myself 2nd place for females 40-44. During awards, Dan called me up and presented me with a NEMO pint glass along with the others. Memories of years before at the forefront of my mind.

“Lindsey, you’ve done this race before, right?” He said into the microphone.

“Nope. My mom did. 25 years ago.”

And she earned a 2nd place age group finish as well. Keeping it in the family.

It was a great race. Everything went exactly as you would hope. The weather was perfect. No flat tires. It was just an all-around great day.

I had a tough time coming back to reality in the Lou after that trip to the ‘Ville. I found myself wanting to go back to Kirksville, 1985, when life was just being a 10 year old kid, riding bikes, building forts, trading baseball cards and playing kickball. But I finally had a break through the other day when I dusted off my Mizunos and hit the trails in Castlewood, for the first time since Berryman. Without even realizing that I hadn’t dumped the sand out of them since the race that made me so sick, I had been avoiding the woods ever since that day in May.

But this is how I know that I did myself proud at NEMO. I was scared, but the only way I would really have been weak or not honored my memories well, is if I had let the fear stop me from getting out there and trying. We fall down, we get banged up.  Life isn’t always kickball and baseball cards, but I will take advantage of those opportunities as they come, even if I get a scraped knee and need a Band-Aid once in a while. And, well, if this is what 40 looks like, then I’m in for a pretty good ride.

Coming into the finish of my 7min/mile

Coming into the finish of my 7min/mile



Just Call Us…The Comeback Kids

Not all comebacks are created equal. They don’t all look alike and they don’t always lead you back to exactly where you were. But they do all have one thing in common. Every comeback requires that when you get knocked down, or fall down, you have to get back up again and keep going.

You might remember my friend Katherine that was in a really horrible bike crash back in April, we weren’t sure if she would make it. And if she did, we weren’t sure what the damage would be. A mere two or three days after she got out of the hospital, I was admitted to the hospital for dehydration and Pyelonephritis that went septic (that basically means the infection got in my blood and was trying to kill me).

This summer didn’t look at all like last summer for me or Katherine. Last summer, I was training for my first (and only for the foreseeable future) Ironman. By the end of last summer Katherine had qualified for the Ironman World Championships and was preparing to compete in Kona. This summer, for both of us, workouts were considerably less intense. Not that I am comparing myself to Katherine on any level, her accident was completely different from my illness, they left very different scars. But we were both brought back to zero for a while where triathlons are concerned.

On Saturday, I made a comeback, of sorts. Before I got sick I had signed up to be on a relay team of 6 people to run 82 miles. At the time, I had confidence in my abilities. 13ish miles in one day, sure, no problem. But as September 6 edged closer and closer, I wasn’t completely sure what I would be capable of. I gave my friends an opportunity to find a replacement if they wanted since I was the obvious weak link of the group. They assured me that despite my lack of speed they still wanted me on the team. And so, for the first time ever in my life, I asked for the shortest, easiest legs of the race. I knew what I was capable of, and I knew it wasn’t much.

As we started watching the 10 day weather forecast, we all hoped that there would be a major cold front to come in and push summer’s last efforts out of the way. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, so we were left to deal with 95 degrees, humidity and sun, which made the “feels like” temperature somewhere in the low hundreds, as we made our way from Creve Coeur to Hermann, MO. This had me a little (a little meaning A LOT) worried. I didn’t want to end up in the hospital again. No more IV’s for this girl this year, thank you very much.

When we got to the starting area, I immediately thought I was in some kind of a sick joke. It was awesome to see so many familiar faces, but with our start time being the last of many waves between 4am and 8am, I wondered what I was doing with all the fastest people I knew. My mileage this summer has been low, and my speed has been even lower. And yet, there I was with lots of speedy peeps.

I was the #2 runner, so I was glad to be getting my first leg out of the way early. I was set to go just before 8:30am, before the heat of the day, for about 4 miles. However, that first leg was 99% in direct sun. No shade. It was brutal. As I finally made my way across the Highway 364 bridge to the exchange point, the very last runner to start this leg caught up to me. We handed off our bracelets and the exchange volunteer said to me, “Are you the last one?” I responded, “Yeah, I think so.”

I was so glad to be done running. That was hot. And the reality that it would be even hotter when I had to run again 4 hours later was not super exciting.

As the race wore on, it did warm up even more. We all took care of each other, having bottles of cold water waiting as a runner would come in to an exchange, a bag of ice, sponges soaked in cold water to squeeze over our heads, salt tablets, whatever we needed. We worried when we didn’t see our runner in the anticipated amount of time listed on Angie’s spreadsheet. But I’m happy to report, we all made it to each exchange without anything catastrophic to report.

My other two legs were even less eventful that the first. They were both on sections of the Katy Trail, both 90% shaded and I even began passing runners from some of the slower teams that had started hours before us. We strolled into the finish line in Hermann around 7:30pm where they had brats, sauerkraut and beer waiting for us.

Despite the heat and my lack of training, it was a fantastic way to make a comeback. I wasn’t really racing as much as just being at a very sweaty party with a whole bunch of great people, who happened to be running. I saw lots of friends throughout the day, and I made some new friends along the way. My team was awesome and I genuinely appreciated their support to get me through my return to “competitive” running. It wasn’t pretty and I have no idea if I will ever be truly competitive ever again, but it got me back into the community I love. And somehow we managed to finish 6th out of 49 teams in our open/mixed division. It certainly wasn’t due to my speed, but this “down time” in training, if that’s what you call it, has reminded me that I am so much more than just a runner. To all of you who shared Saturday with me, especially the CRABS, from the bottom of my heart, Thank you.

As I mentioned earlier, not all comebacks look the same. I’ve never had a guest writer here, but there is a first time for everything. And the timing of this couldn’t be better. I read a post from Katherine earlier today and it oozed the essence of RRG and all that I want this blog to be. With her permission, I’d like to share it. Her life looks a little different now after her accident, but she continues to inspire all those around her, in any and all circumstances. I couldn’t be more proud to call this girl my friend and I am thankful for her perspective.

So without further ado, here is Katherine’s comeback…

Thanks for all the bday wishes. I’m so grateful for being able to celebrate another bday. Here’s why, in the form of an update.

.               September 8, 2015 at 9:12am

I believe that there are things to the be grateful for in every situation. My severe bike crash that occurred at the end of April is no exception. I am, of course, so deeply grateful to have survived. Not only did I survive, but I made it through with all of my faculties and body intact. I’ve been able to return to what I consider the most important parts of my life: being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a physician.

What I am not able to return to at this time is competitive triathlon and endurance sports. As a result of my accident, my amazing team of doctors discovered that I may be at a slightly higher than normal risk of a cardiac arrhythmia at this time. Based on the risk:benefit ratio of another severe and potentially fatal accident occurring at this time, I have decided to walk away from racing for awhile.

I’ll admit that it hasn’t been easy. My athletic hopes and dreams for 2015 and 2016 have been shattered. There were 6 races that I was registered for this year, all of which I have officially withdrawn from. The 3 biggest ones were ITU Olympic-distance triathlon Nationals in Milwaukee, the ITU World Championships (which I qualified for at Nationals last year), and Ironman Louisville. The ITU World Championships in particular were a dream come true. I was so looking forward to proudly donning my Team USA uniform in a race which just happens to be in my hometown of Chicago this year. I was then planning to race in Ironman Louisville where I was hoping to try to earn a repeat spot at the starting line in Kona.

I envisioned 2016 as being my peak year in endurance sports, a field in which women tend to peak in their early 40s. 2016 was going to be The Year, after which I was planning to transition to ultra-distance runs and shorter distance triathlons. 2016 was supposed to include Boston and Big Sur (my favorite marathon in the world followed in less than a week by a marathon that I’ve always dreamed of running). Then ITU Worlds in Mexico. Finally to cap it all off, the greatest starting and finishing lines that exist in sport: Kona. Dreams. Shattered.

Yet I am still so grateful for the fateful day of April 29, 2015. I am actually grateful that the accident even happened. So many things have happened that wouldn’t have had it not. For example, it has forced me to make changes in my life that I wouldn’t have otherwise made. After the 2 months that I spent in the hospital and rehab, I found myself with what felt like endless unstructured/free time, especially because I am no longer training to race. As a result, I have restructured my work days. I am now working more days per week, but fewer hours per day. For the first time in their lives, my kids no longer have to go to aftercare. I’m now personally picking them up from school 5 days/week. They’ve never complained about aftercare. In fact, they’ve asked to go numerous times over the years even when they haven’t had to go. It’s all they’ve ever known, yet I think that this change is for the better. It has happened just in time, at a crucial age when activities really start picking up as does the beginning of the formative pre-teen and teenage years.

I see my role as a doctor so differently now after being, and continuing to be, a patient. In particular, I think I’m a much better psychiatrist now that I understand what it’s like to be a patient. I also now know what is feels like to have to go through a somewhat big life transition so abruptly. It’s not easy. There are many ups and downs. There is no easy fix. Yet there is hope and so much gratefulness to be had.

Not only am I more focused than I’ve ever been at work, I also am at home. My family has always come first. There was a period of time right after the injury when I was in the ICU and it was unclear if I was going to make it through without brain damage. I feel horrible that the kids had to go through that, but it has opened their eyes to the fact that bad things happen. My accident and its sequelae are small things compared to the atrocities, hatred, poverty, and violence that happen throughout the world. Moreover, my accident was small compared to what so many people, including some of you, have to deal with on a daily basis, and every day going forward for a few of you. Things like incurable cancer, progressive neurological diseases, heart disease, and other chronic and severe illnesses.

I don’t know what the future holds for anyone, much less for myself. I’m still keeping active, but I now exercise like a normal, fit woman in her early 40s. Nothing long and nothing fast. It hasn’t been easy to stop endurance training. It’s been tough, even tougher than the hardest race I’ve even participated in, Kona. It’s been a process that I’m still working through, but I’m getting there. I’m starting to feel content with what used to feel like nothing. For example, a 1 hour swim used to be my warm-up or cool-down for my long bike rides or runs. Or it is what I used to do on my rest/recovery days. It is now my main form of exercise of any type for the day. I’ve actually grown to love it. Running 1 lap (5.5 miles) around Forest Park also used to feel like nothing. In fact, prior to my accident, I can’t remember a time when I went for a run and came back in less than an hour. Now even 1 lap feels like exercise and leaves me feeling content.

Who knows what the future holds? I may one day get back on a bike, something which is currently too risky for me to do. I may one day participate in triathlons again, even longer distance ones, but I quite likely may not. I do know that I am so thankful that I have such an amazing support system. I have family and friends who truly care, who have gone above and beyond. Same with my doctors, nurses, therapists, and the rest of my treatment team. Above and beyond. I couldn’t ask for more in terms of my recovery from my “accident.” I put accident in quotes because I don’t truly think it was a complete accident. It was meant to happen. It may be tough at times, but it has changed my life for the better. The future is unknown, but I do know that it is bright and that I hope to continue to be able to see what it holds.


I know I am not alone in how glad I am to be able to say, Happy Birthday Katherine! Let the birthdays, and the comebacks, keep on comin!

Pre-race eL CRABS, which stands for Lindsey, Chaz, Rob, Angie, Becky, Scott.

Pre-race eL CRABS, which stands for Lindsey, Chaz, Rob, Angie, Becky, Scott.

And eL CRABS post race

And eL CRABS post race


Lesson in a Lunchbox

It’s Friday morning and I just got back from dropping the kids off at school. To say I’m glad this week is over would be a vast understatement. Aside from the fact that they started school on Monday and I wasn’t there to see it due to my school starting at the same time, we had a total of 7 sporting events in 5 days between baseball and soccer. And with summer giving one final push into the mid 90’s we were without AC. Again. This week wasn’t pretty. But we got through it.

Today at noon the kids are leaving school early when their dad picks them up to spend the holiday weekend at Lake of the Ozarks with his new girlfriend and her 3 kids. This morning, in their flurry to get ready for school and their excitement over the weekend, Silas and I had a hard time seeing eye to eye. On anything. Actually, it’s been like that for about the last 48 hours, just one thing after another. Nothing major, just lots of little nitpicky things. We had some pretty great moments over the summer, but the last few moments before school this morning were not our finest.

As parents, we all struggle with walking that fine line between being firm on things that we maybe don’t need to and giving in to our kids to the point that they walk all over us. I never do it perfect and this morning was a clear indicator of that.

Yesterday when we got home I asked Silas for his lunchbox so I could empty the remaining contents. He couldn’t find it, not in his backpack, not in the car. But he assured me he was absolutely positive he had not left it at school. So this morning as I walked into school with him to see if we could locate it, he was more than unhappy with me that he had to carry a brown bag. I’m not sure why that was my fault, but he seemed to think so. As sure as he was that his lunchbox was not at school, as we approached his classroom, sure enough, there it was hanging on his hook in the hallway.

He stormed into his classroom without even looking my way. I popped my head inside the door and said a quick introduction to his teacher who I hadn’t met yet. She mentioned how excited he has been all week about leaving at noon today, I quickly brushed past the fact that it was not with me.

I was halfway back to the car with lunchbox in hand when I paused. I really didn’t want to go back into the school, especially since I was wearing the same clothes I was wearing at drop off yesterday (it’s been a rough week, don’t judge me) when I had to go in to deal with Ally’s meds. But I stood there on the sidewalk knowing what I needed to do.

As a mom, there is nothing better than seeing the look of pure joy on one of my kid’s faces. I got to see that look several times over the last few weeks, like at one on one Cardinals games with each of my boys, our Fab 4 adventure day all around the city and my road trip with Ally to see her fave band, 1 Direction (who is apparently breaking up, so there is a lot of drama around here).

And there is nothing more heart wrenching than seeing them with a look of defeat or disappointment. One of those moments occurred a couple weeks ago at Ethan’s baseball game. He was up to bat and he got hit by a pitch for the first time in his career. It wasn’t hard, I knew he’d be ok. But I could tell that it shook him. He took his base. Lead offs are allowed now, so he was testing the water with that. After a couple pitches, the pitcher threw the ball to the first baseman and Ethan wasn’t at all close to getting back to the bag in time. He was clearly out.

I could see the look on his face. He was disappointed, embarrassed, frustrated. He felt let down, and worse he felt he had let his team down. That’s the worst feeling in the world, especially when you’re out on the middle of the field with everyone looking on. I watched carefully as Ethan came off the field and one of his coaches put his arm around Ethan to speak to him. He didn’t make him feel bad, just used it as a learning experience. With kids, or with anyone really, it’s all about what you say in those moments.

That got me thinking back to my own days on the softball field. Now, let me be very clear, I was not good. Ethan has talent for baseball, I did not. Sure I could throw and catch and shag a fly ball, but my batting average was .000. Seriously, my final varsity season I either had a pinch hitter, walked or struck out at every single at bat. I made contact for an occasional foul ball, but I had no hits. None. Somewhere I even have a certificate to prove it.  Despite all that, there is a right way and a wrong way for a coach to treat his players and my coach didn’t really know the difference. While I was at best mediocre, I still always put forth any effort I could muster. I’m all heart, I always have been. I distinctly remember a time my coach had promised me a place in the starting lineup, but as game time neared and he announced the positions, my name wasn’t mentioned. I found myself sitting on the bench again. I made it through the game and helped gather the gear at the end. And as I shuffled toward where my dad was waiting in the parking lot, I felt the tears welling up. It wasn’t long after I shut the van door that the tears flowed and I vented my frustration. It wasn’t about the fact that I didn’t get to play, it was that I had been promised an opportunity and then without explanation it was taken from me. I wasn’t treated right and that stuck with me. Obviously. It’s now 22 years later and I still remember it like yesterday.

My dad just listened and let me get it out. I don’t recall what he said to me that day, but I remember coming out of that experience knowing that he was still proud of me and my efforts. And I had the confidence to seek the explanation I desired.

I went to my coach the next practice and explained my disappointment. Rather than owning his mistake, he basically manipulated the situation and told me I got his words mixed up. I left feeling even worse, when really, all I was seeking was “You know what, you’re right, I should have handled it differently and I’m sorry.”

Coincidentally yesterday when I was going through a box of stuff and I came across a picture of my dad. There was a sticky note next to it with these words written in my handwriting: The one who attempts to be better than oneself is likely to have more success than one who attempts to be better than someone else. I have no idea who to give credit to for that quote, but it very easily could have been something my dad said to me in the van that day more than 2 decades ago.

Flash forward back to today. Me standing on the sidewalk holding a 2nd graders lunchbox. It took less than a fraction of a second to decide what to do. I couldn’t wait until Tuesday when I see Silas again to make things right. So I turned around, walked back into school and straight to his classroom. He looked up at me like why are you back in here? I walked to his desk, he stood, I knelt. I whispered in his ear, “I’m sorry we fought this morning. I didn’t want you to leave for the weekend with it this way. I love you.” He put his arms around me, and kissed me on the shoulder, then went back to his desk. I smiled and told him to have fun. And I went back out of the school to the parking lot, got in my car and drove away, crying of course.

Even in his absence, my dad continues to teach me things. All any of us really needs is validation and acknowledgement of our efforts. It’s ok if we don’t see eye to eye all the time, as long as we accept and love each other in the process of figuring it out. I don’t need to be right all the time and I don’t need to be better than anyone else, I just need to do right by my kids to the best of my abilities. And to try to be better than myself, better than who I was yesterday. And I guess if I keep doing that, then I’m doing alright.

With my little buddy at Ethan's baseball game on the first day of school

With my little buddy at Ethan’s baseball game on the first day of school

Leaky Goggles and Learning to Run Again

Wow. Where has the summer gone? Has it really been 2 whole months since I’ve shown up around here? Did you think I dropped off the face of the earth? Well, I sort of did, actually. But that’s a story in itself, so we’ll get to that.

Since I last posted, here’s what I’ve been up to…

I finished up my first session of school, was added to the Dean’s List, completed my second session of school, stayed on the Dean’s List, and am now just past the half way point to my certification with my 4.0 holding strong. I’ve learned to take vitals, administer some tests, give injections and draw blood.

My last day at Fleet Feet came and went, and while I miss my peeps terribly, I’ve been so busy, I’m not sure where I would have fit work into my schedule. Unless it took the place of sleep.

My bff brought her whole clan for a visit from Chicago. This is the first time they’ve seen me all set up in my own house and I finally got to make good on a promise to take them to the City Museum. I still remember calling Britta from the outside climbing structure on my first visit there 4 years ago, exclaiming, “Andreas will LOVE this place!”

I’ve been to a family wedding in Quincy that ended abruptly with a massive storm headed toward the vineyard, I’ve driven to and from Michigan twice, and in July the beau and I drove to Moab, Utah for an “all too short” long weekend where we toured, hiked and did actually leave the planet for about 7 minutes when we jumped out of a plane and plummeted toward the Earth at 120 miles per hour. Yes, that really happened. There is absolutely nothing like the moment you are sitting in an airplane and the door opens and you’re looking down at ground a mile away and the guy tells you to get out. It was spectacularly, fantastically, unequivocally Ahhhh-mazing! Fortunately, and as you might have guessed, the parachute did in fact open (for both of us) and we landed safely with matching ear to ear grins.

Other highlights include Ethan’s team winning their division in baseball, Silas’ birthday extravaganza at Raging Rivers water park, a Cubs/Cardinals show-down at Busch stadium for me and Ethan, a Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire concert, spending the 4th of July in Kirksville, my nephew’s first birthday and last but certainly not least, a clean bill of health for me! Clean blood and fully functioning kidneys meant…I get to run again. Or…maybe someday. With all of that going on, who has time???

I have managed to get some workouts in here and there, but mostly I’ve been smart and avoided the Missouri summer humidity by driving down the road and making use of my membership at Gold’s. Surprisingly, the thing I’ve been enjoying the most is…drumroll please…the pool.

Yes, that’s right. Thanks to the Midwest heat and a mild fear of overdoing it, I have gotten very familiar with the best times to avoid the Gold’s Gym pool, like weekdays at 5:30 when it’s 3 people to a lane. Uh, no thanks. I’ve had a few really good swims where I feel comfortable in the water. And then the other day I was struggling so much with my goggles leaking that I almost called it quits and left after 2 laps. But I persevered and managed a half mile and I felt much better because of it.

Anyway, I’m glad to say that tonight while Ethan had his first soccer practice in the valley, I went back to visit an old friend…the levee. I haven’t run in weeks, but since we finally had a break in the heat today, and I had a break in the crazy, I took advantage of the opportunity to get back on the path where I logged so many miles back in my prime. Well, calling it my prime might be a bit of stretch, but it was back when I was running marathons and earning an occasional PR. I haven’t seen those days in a while. But focuses change and life takes different turns.

Which is a good lead in to the fact that tonight I ran 3 miles. Slowly. And it left me feeling beat. But to be honest, it was still a win. Because since this whole kidney situation, I’ve become a little afraid of running. What? RRG Afraid of the thing she loves most?! I know. It’s weird. But not really.

My run tonight hurt. And chances are I will hurt worse on Saturday. I was mildly afraid of the pain, more afraid of how slow I would be, but mostly afraid that I’ve lost it and that I won’t get it back. I didn’t want to start and even after I started, I kind of wanted to quit. But I thought about my swim the other day with the leaky goggles. If I had given up after just a couple laps because of that, I would have missed what turned out to be a great swim. So I didn’t quit, I did what I set out to do.

Here’s the other funny thing about those goggles. They are the same goggles I used the day I became an Ironman. They had never leaked before, but then on race day, they were beyond frustrating. 2.4 miles of dealing with leaky goggles. What if I would have given up during that swim because of that? I would have missed out on something truly incredible.

Here’s something I know…Life is full of obstacles, like leaky goggles. And here’s something else I know…I’m not a quitter. Obviously. But even I need an occasional reminder to push through the obstacles, and the frustrations and the fears, to get the job done. So, as I go forward in an attempt to reclaim my ability, my distance, my pace, my passion, I’ll remember that I’ve gotten through the hard stuff before. It will come back, I just have to keep going.

Maybe next time I run, I’ll wear those goggles as a reminder.

Nah, maybe not.

Mission Accomplished.

Mission Accomplished.

A New Chapter

Yesterday was National Running Day.  Now, to someone like me, who is used to running most days, you wouldn’t think that would be very significant, other than the opportunity to celebrate what I love.  But yesterday was different.  Having not run at all in almost 3 weeks since a marathon, followed by a lengthy stay at the Mercy spa, it was definitely something to embrace.

This recovery process has been longer and slower than I expected which leaves me feeling a little frustrated.  I’d say I’m back to about 85-90%.  I’m feeling mostly like myself again.  But that last 10-15% is the fatigue that is hanging on, reminding me to let my body rest.  I’m falling asleep a lot earlier than usual, frequently taking mid-day naps when time allows, and even simple things, like a few hours at school, a short shift at work or making dinner, can leave me feeling wiped out.

I’m taking things as easy as I can, ordering pizza when necessary and not scheduling any activities that would be considered “over doing it”.  But yesterday, I needed to make a comeback.  It wasn’t much, but it was something.

After I dropped Ethan off at a friend’s house so they could go off to the Cardinals game, Silas and I were hanging out on the back porch while Ally was upstairs in her room packing for their trip to Chicago this weekend with their dad.  On the way home from dropping Ethan, Silas had spotted a garage sale and since he had $5 burning a hole in his pocket, he insisted we stop.  He found a table hockey game, some Legos (like we really need MORE???) and a “decorate your own football”.  So we were sitting out on the porch, painting a football…arts and crafts mixed with athletics, perfect.

I said, “Hey Silas, it’s National Running Day.  Want to go around the lake with me?”

“Yes, ok.  Can I ride my scooter?”

While this seemed mildly like defeating the purpose to me, I agreed since I think the bigger idea is really just about getting out and doing something active.  Also, since Silas struggles with asthma, running can be tough for him.

So I changed into running clothes, Silas grabbed his scooter and we went down to the backyard where we got on the path.

“I’m going to beat you!” Silas teased. I smiled.

Yes, I’m sure you will today, Little Buddy.

And we were off.  Slowly.  At first, running felt almost foreign.  I wasn’t sure how fast or slow to even go.  But after a few steps, just like riding a bike, it came back.  About a tenth of a mile from the house, we came to the bridge.  We stopped just before and I pointed out some baby ducks near the water’s edge.  As we crossed the bridge, I noticed something perched on a log.  As we got around to the other side, Silas and I stopped to check it out.  Upon inspection, we realized it was a bird, but one we didn’t recognize.

“We can look it up in one of Ethan’s bird books when we get home,” Silas said as he took off again.

But we stopped almost immediately when we saw several turtles sunning themselves, it looked like a mom and 2 kids.  And some were swimming nearby.  We, of course, had to count them all.

Then we continued on our way.  But the rest of the journey was much like that, go and stop.  We saw more baby ducks and a really big turtle.  We got to the lighthouse and headed up the hill.  We rounded the corner at the clubhouse and started back down the hill.

“Can we go to the dock?” Silas asked.


Just before we got there, Silas called me back to look at something.  “What is it?” he asked.

“It’s a dead squirrel.  You can look but don’t touch it.” I said firmly, knowing how his mind works.

And then Silas ditched his scooter on the grass and walked out onto the dock.  We watched a tiny little turtle scoot off a log and plop into the water.  We watched a mama duck and her babies swim by.  We were enjoying being out on the dock.  Just a few months ago, it wasn’t even floating.  You see, less than a year after I moved into this house, all the water from the lake drained into the Missouri caverns below.  It had happened a couple times before, but they thought the problem had been remedied.  Unfortunately though, I’ve spent the better part of my 3 years here, staring at a mud pit, rather than the pretty lake I saw when I moved in.  It’s good to have our scenery back.

Silas grabbed his scooter and I walked up the hill to get back on the path.  “Let’s take the short cut!” Silas yelled as he zipped past me down the hill.

“Which way is the short cut?” I asked confused since there is only one path.

He used the driveway.  I guess that’s the short cut?

We continued on, at one point waiting for the geese to clear the path so we could go by.  Past a barking puppy.  More baby ducks.  And back around to the other side, our side, of the lake.  And then we were home.

I stopped my Garmin. (Yes, of course I wore it.)  We had gone not quite a mile and a half, averaging about an 11:30/mile pace.  For someone who is used to running 26 at an 8:30-45 minute pace that could seem less than successful.  But the truth is it didn’t matter.  I ran.  It felt good.  It was slow, but I took it all in.  I was with my little buddy.  And if that isn’t what National Running Day is all about then I don’t know what is.

That little 1.5 mile run was so symbolic of life, the cycles we go through.  Sometimes we run, sometimes we walk, sometimes we have to stop and catch our breath.  Sometimes the scenery is beautiful, sometimes we are curious and need to take a closer look, sometimes we see things that we really didn’t want to see.  Sometimes it comes easy, and sometimes it’s a world of frustration. But eventually, it all comes back around.

There is another cycle in my life that is coming to a close.  And while I know that it’s a really good thing for me, it’s still hard and I have VERY mixed emotions about it.

Exactly 4 years ago this week, I walked into Fleet Feet in Chesterfield valley, for my very first shift.  I was excited about what might lie ahead, but I was nervous about everything I had to learn.  I immediately felt right at home with great people, who have become amazing friends, like Faith, Pam and Jess, who I’m pretty sure were all there that first day.

When I look back on everything that Fleet Feet St. Louis has been to me over the past four years, it is so much more than “just a job”.  Fleet Feet gave me purpose at a time that I needed something to hold on to, and it reignited my passion for life.  Fleet Feet has given me the opportunity to learn and grow, and has reestablished my confidence to a level I never expected.  After almost 10 years as a stay at home mom, Fleet Feet gave me a chance.  When I moved from Chesterfield to help get the Town and Country store in SBR up and running, it was both a learning experience and what felt like a reward for my efforts.  Most importantly though, Fleet Feet has given me a community.  The relationships that I’ve formed are extraordinary.  Friends who are like family.

And that is what makes it so hard to say goodbye.

At the end of June, my time at Fleet Feet will come to an end.  I’m going to spend some time this summer enjoying my kiddos and my life, before school really kicks into gear in August.  The last couple months have been tough being a hero…school, work, kids, marathons.  I’ve proven I CAN do it all, but in doing so, I ran myself right into the hospital.  It’s time to take a step back and remember what matters.

It’s time to refocus and reestablish some balance.  Change is hard.  But it’s time to let go…

This part of my journey is complete, but I’m excited to see where the next 4 years go.  It’s the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one.  And while I’m saying goodbye, I’m not going far.  You’ll all still be able to find me on the streets and trails and race courses of the Lou.  I’ll be easy to spot.  I’ll be the one wearing Fleet Feet red.

National Running Day with Silas

National Running Day with Silas



Part I: The Race

I can honestly say, this is the first time I’ve ever written a blog post hooked to an IV.  But I’ll get to that later.

On Saturday, I ran the Berryman Marathon.  Back in January a couple friends had enticed me into signing up since they were doing the 50 miler.  Coming off of Arizona, I didn’t feel like doing much.  And while my usual motto is, when given the choice, choose the longer option, I didn’t think I should push it so I opted for the marathon.  (That just sounds silly now)

On Friday night, after I closed up shop with James in Town and Country, I hopped in the car and drove to Potosi, a rural community on the edge of Mark Twain National Forrest, where they have a Super 8.  I checked into my room and was in bed eating pie by 10pm.  I had everything laid out and ready to go.

At 6:15 I rolled out of bed and began race prep. I dressed in my running gear and went down the hall to the ice machine so I could fill the bladder of my hydration vest.  I grabbed my bottles of Scratch out of the mini fridge that I had mixed the night before and added them to the pockets of my vest, which was also stuffed with Huma gels and Gu.  It was supposed to be humid, so I was going to be prepared.

Eventually I took my stuff to the car and went back into the lobby to grab some breakfast.  Or some coffee at the very least.  I was greeted by a gal in running gear who asked if I was headed to Berryman too.  I confirmed that I was.  While I drank my coffee, we chatted about previous races and our thoughts for the day.  She was hoping to finish between 4 and 5 hours.  I was hoping to finish.  While I was the more experienced of the two of us, I wasn’t sure what to expect of this course and I knew that I hadn’t properly trained for it.  So I set the bar low and my goal for the day was to go out and have fun.

By 7:30 I was in the car, driving the 25 minutes to the course.  My race started at 8.  The thing about trail races that is very different from the huge races downtown is that you don’t have to get there an hour and a half early.  At Berryman, like many others, you basically pull up, get out of your car, slap on your race bib and away you go.

I saw several friends at the start.  Rosie and John had already started the 50 mile at 6:30, but Rosie’s husband Alex greeted me with a hug.  I handed off my keys to Megan and Seth to put in the Fleet Feet truck for safe keeping.  Then I gathered behind the starting line with some of the girls from the tri club and a few seconds later we were running.  About 10 steps in I knew it was going to be a slow day.  Not that I hadn’t already figured that out from lack of training, but the humidity was at about 99%.  It settled over us like a blanket.  An oppressive wet blanket.  It was making my legs feel like lead.  It was then that I knew my body didn’t have it that day, my mind was going to have to do most of the grunt work to get this race in the books.  But it’s not like I’ve never had to brush that feeling aside, and so into the forest I ran.  I stuck right behind Tara and Donna for the first 5 miles or so.  We broke apart at the first aid station, which was good for me, because then instead of mindlessly staring at Tara’s shoes, I started to take in the majesty of the forest.  It really is an unbelievable trail.  Tough, but beautiful.

I’m not really sure when it started raining, but it felt amazing!  The cool water on my face felt refreshing and it made running seem easier.  It also made the creeks rise, so where in the beginning I was able to jump from rock to rock to get across without getting wet, it wasn’t long until I would just trudge right through, soaking my shoes and socks.  There’s something to be said about the thrill of returning to youthfulness, playing in streams, enjoying the woods, exploring and the satisfying crunch of gravel under your feet.  This was the fun I had been seeking.  Yes, I was going slower than usual and no I hadn’t adequately trained for this race, but it was reminding me of what I loved to do.

Just before the 14 mile aid station I caught up to Donna.  She was walking, so I slowed to walk with her for a bit.  Her stomach was off and she was having a rough day.  Mine wasn’t the stomach, but we probably could have started a club.  We approached the aid station and when I was ready to take off, Donna waved me on.  She was done.  “Have a good race,” she hollered after me.  “Thanks!” I waved.  And I heard someone from the aid station ask if she wanted a ride back in the truck.

And then, I was alone in the woods again.  The terrain was rough, so there were several times throughout the day that I turned an ankle so hard I felt it down to my toes and all the way up the lateral side of my calf.  That would probably hurt, I thought to myself, if I hadn’t taken that Aleve earlier.  However, the Aleve was not only masking the ankle pain, it was also hiding the bigger, more serious issue.  While making them worse at the same time.

As the race went on the hills seemed tougher, I don’t know if that was the course, my body, or the fact that the sloppy conditions were making it more challenging.  I walked a lot of the uphills, I ran the down hills and the flats.  As I cruised into the aid station around Mile 17, I saw Tara. I told her that Donna had gotten a ride back to the finish; she said she had a feeling that would happen.  As we took off again, I vaguely heard one of the volunteers giving directions about when we get to the road the trail is only a little ways up.  When we got to the only actual road we would encounter that day, there were 4 of us, Tara, me, a random guy and a random girl.  We saw the arrow that appeared to point across the paved road directly at a gravel road, so down the gravel road we went.  About half a mile down, a big white pickup truck pulled out and almost blocked us.  The driver got out and said, “This here’s a dead end.  Whatchya’ll doin’ out here?”  We explained that we were looking for the Berryman trail.  “Well, ya won’t find it down that way, that’s just Joe Bob’s farm.”  Good thing he intercepted us.  He couldn’t understand why in the world we were looking for a tiny little trail in the desolate weather we were experiencing, but he told us generally where we needed to go.  He offered to drive us up there in his truck, but we politely declined.  Nobody likes a cheater.  But I can’t honestly tell you that none of us thought about it for half a second.

Usually around mile 17, 18, 19 of a marathon, your brain has to do a decent job of convincing your body to keep running.  Even worse at that point of a race and you realize you’re not even on the course.  You’re running to get back on course, I can assure you it’s more than a little deflating.  But, just as I said in that moment, what’s a race without a story?  We plugged along on that gravel road until we got back to the paved road, which we began to follow.  And about 10 steps up, we came upon another spray painted arrow on the road.  If only we had seen that sooner.  Ah well, such is life.  It wasn’t long until we ducked back into the woods again.  We trudged up a hill single file with the rain coming down.  Tara disappeared from my sight again shortly after that.  And eventually so did everyone else.  It’s funny how that works, one minute you’re in the midst of a crowd, the next minute you’re in solitude with a bunch of trees.

I continued my strategy of walk up, run down.  There were times that I was literally running in a creek bed, slopping through mud puddles.  It was amazing.

A lot of the latter part of the race is a little blurry.  Looking back on that now, understandably so.  I don’t recall ever feeling bad, other than tired.  I remember a lot of telling myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I even passed a few people in the last mile or two.  And then, just as we were about to come out of the woods, there were Tara’s shoes right in front of me again.  Just like I don’t  I don’t recall exactly when it started raining, I don’t remember when it stopped either, but it wasn’t raining when we came out of the woods and ran through the finish.  Despite running completely different races on the same course, we’d seen each other at the beginning, the middle and the end.  Two races with times that were just seconds apart, and we spent most of the day not together.

I was so glad it was done.  And even more glad I had signed up for the marathon and not the 50 mile.

Then there was a medal around my neck and I went to grab a bottle of water.  There was a great spread of food, that I couldn’t even think about enjoying until I changed into dry clothes.  I glanced around looking for Alex, but saw no sign of him, so I wondered if Rosie had decided to call it a day after 1 loop.  I couldn’t fathom doing that a second time.

I hiked up to my car, changed into my flip flops, made my recovery drink, took off my empty hydration pack and began stripping off soaking wet clothes.  Once I was dry and the Gu brew was gone, I started back towards the food.

I joined the other runners in the pavilion, downed a big cheeseburger, lots of chips, some cookies and more water.  I was tired, sore, but I felt good.  The girl next to me noticed my tattoo and asked which Ironman I had done.  I can’t remember which one she said she had completed last fall, but we both agreed that we thought that one standalone trail marathon was harder than the marathon at the end of an Ironman.  It took me 6 hours and 1 minute.  Even in Arizona, I was solidly under 6, at about 5:20.  It had been a tough day, one that I wasn’t truly prepared for.  But I’d made it.  And something I had thought about on that course was how often are we ever really prepared for the hard stuff?  We aren’t.  There really isn’t much we can do besides take things as they come and do the best we can under the circumstances.  Ah, and wasn’t that a prophetic thought…

Part II: The Aftermath

On the drive home I wasn’t in any hurry, so I plugged my address into my phone GPS and let it take me home by way of the back roads.  Hilly, twisty, turny roads with tiny little churches, grand houses with big white fences and fields full of wildflowers.  I enjoyed the ride home as much as the race, maybe more.  And by then the sun was shining.

I got home, unloaded the car, showered, and I was feeling pretty good about myself making 6:30 church.  I grabbed a cup of coffee on the way in to keep me awake.  As we stood to start singing, I felt it hit me.  A wave of dizziness passed over me.  I wanted  the singing to end, I was desperate to sit down.  Finally we did.  I was shifty, fidgety, unable to focus.  I was so tired, but it wasn’t an ordinary tiredness.  I felt like I was going to pass out.   I fought to maintain through the service.  I survived.  Then I drove home, grabbed more water and curled up on the couch under a blanket with my jacket still on.  I was shivering.  My heart was racing.  It occurred to me that I hadn’t peed more than twice that whole day.  Once in the morning before the race and once after the race.  That’s it.  I recognized some of the signs of dehydration and I started getting worried.  After talking to my mom, we agreed I should consider having someone take me to the ER.  I called Vega, who lives just a couple miles away, but he was over in Illinois so he suggested I call Heather.  I did and she came right over.

I had turned on the movie Wild, which I’d been wanting to see, because I knew it would hold my attention and keep me alert as well as anything.  I kept refilling my water.

When Heather arrived, I had already started feeling a little better, so we decided to sit tight and see how things went for a while.  We hadn’t seen each other so we caught up on each other’s lives and the time passed quickly.  Before too long I was going to the bathroom frequently and things seemed to be returning to normal.  I sent Heather on home and I climbed into bed for the night.

I woke up around 1am and stumbled clumsily with marathon fatigued muscles into the bathroom.  When I returned to bed, I had a hard time going back to sleep.  I tossed and turned a lot.  I didn’t feel right but I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I chalked it up to post-marathon yuck.

I finally got up around 8:30 the next morning.  My muscles hurt more than they should have.  True I hadn’t trained very well, but this seemed like an excessively miserable state.

I made my way to the kitchen and shoved a bag of lays potato chips in my face.  Yes, for breakfast.  Don’t judge me.  I knew I needed salt.  I chased them with a bottle of lemon lime Gatorade Silas had taken one sip of and then left in the fridge.  Typically I loathe lemon lime Gatorade, but on that particular morning it tasted like the nectar of the gods.  Again, I should have suspected that something was awry.  I downed an orange Gatorade and some other easily accessible items.  I avoided coffee, because I feared the feeling of my heart racing the night before was due to the quantity of caffeine I had consumed.  Pre-race coffee, caffeinated gels, cola at the aid stations, coffee at church.  It was a lot even for me.  I settled in on the couch to study for my Monday exam, this week testing on the Urinary system.  Oh, the irony.

As it closed in on 11 am, I got ready for work and headed out the door with enough time to stop for a burger on the way, I was craving one.  I swung by 5 Guys and Fries, got stuck behind a whole baseball team and was shoving fries in my mouth as I drove the rest of the way to work.  I pulled into the parking lot and in a cumbersome manner dragged myself and my supplies (food, water, Gatorade) into the store.

We were slow for quite a while.  I told Hannah about the race.  I used the massage rollers.  I wanted to lie down.  I wandered aimlessly.  Hannah was helping a customer with a Garmin when a guy came in for a shoe fitting.  Hannah knew I was going to have a hard time getting up and down off the floor, so she had already offered to take fittings first, but she was helping someone, so I sucked it up and did what I was there to do.  I did have to explain to my customer that I am not typically so inflexible that it takes me 5 minutes to get up off the floor.  He was kind about it, he probably should have laughed, I’m sure I looked absurd.  After those 2 customers left, the entire store was empty.  I was freezing, so I put on my jacket. Hannah and I were over talking to James and Ronette.  I really wanted to just go to sleep on the couch on the SBR side.  I went and stood halfway out the door.

James looked at me quizzically, “Are you cold?!”

“I’m freezing.”

At this point, Hannah started insisting I go home.  We were mostly through the day, the “rush” was likely over and I was pretty much useless to anyone.  So, I followed Hannah’s orders and I went home.  The drive was one of those drives where you get to where you’re going and you’re like, huh, how did I get here?

I went in the house and resumed my position on the couch under the blanket, jacket still on.  When B showed up about an hour later with my requested can of soup, I hadn’t moved and I probably looked like death.  I had quickly escalated back to worse than I had felt the previous evening.  I don’t recall that I said much for the next hour as I dozed on the couch.  He asked a couple different times if I wanted my soup, but my appetite had become a thing of the past.

He sat down on the couch at my feet.  I finally looked at him and said, “I don’t think I can fix this myself.”

B asked, “Are you ready to go to the hospital?”

“Yeah, I’m done suffering.”

We gathered my purse, a blanket, my phone charger, things I would need in case we had to be there a few hours.  I wasn’t planning on days.  I figured we’d go to the ER, they’d give me a bag of IV fluid, maybe a prescription for an antibiotic and send me on my way.

B dropped me at the emergency door and then went to park, I was already in Triage when he came in.  I told the nurse my symptoms, she drew some blood and started an IV and put me back in the waiting room for a bit.  I was glad I had brought my blanket.  I was shivering again.  B went and asked the nurse for another blanket for me.  A nurse told him she would bring one over.  The longer I waited, the more I shook.  I was freezing, I actually had a fever of almost 103. Eventually, B went back to the nurse and got a blanket that felt fresh out of the dryer.  It was heaven.  But with the shaking, came the nausea.  So then B had to go ask for something for me to puke in, just in case.  If you’re wondering, I never did. Finally after the longest hour ever, they took me back to a room and not too long after the doctor came in.  “You know your body well,” he said.  Turns out I was severely dehydrated, with a kidney infection to boot.  They planned to give me a couple more bags of fluid and some antibiotics.  That right there was enough to confirm the decision to come in.  They needed to run more tests, so they took more blood.  And then I was admitted.  More confirmation I had done the right thing coming to the hospital.

I got to my room just after midnight.  I was exhausted.  It took a while for that to change.  My temp would ebb and flow, waves of nausea mixed with episodes of violent shivering, vitals every 4 hours, midnight round of antibiotics and shots in the belly, 5am blood draw for labs, one day would flow into the next with the hope of going home tomorrow.  I started feeling like the little boy who cried wolf.

My diagnosis was Pyelonephritis.  What are the odds that I know exactly what this is because there was likely a question about it on the exam I missed Monday.  My kidney infection allowed the infection to be sent out from my kidney into my body through my blood.  Had I ignored my symptoms longer, I might not have lived to tell the tale.  Scary, but true.  The good news is RRG rambles on.  However, I may not be running much for a while.  But that’s ok.  I’ve got a lot to focus on.  And after 4, almost 5, days in the hospital, I’ve got some catching up to do.

Something Rosie texted me the other day was, “Take care of you.  Remember: your face mask first.” She’s right.  I know everyone calls me supermom, but what good am I to my kids, or anyone else, if I don’t take care of myself?  This was a good reality check that while I know I am capable of pushing through the pain, there are times that I probably shouldn’t.

So apparently, the moral of the story is, I’m not superhuman.  Huh. Who knew?  😉

As for Berryman, we’re on for a rematch.  Someday.  When I don’t have a potentially life threatening infection.  As for this weekend, be certain I won’t be traveling too far from the couch.



The Truth about Mother’s Day

I have a confession to make.  And it likely won’t be very popular.  But when have you ever known me to do something simply because it was popular?  Here it is.  You ready? The truth is…I’m not super fond of Mother’s Day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom and I am glad to be able to honor her.  But as a mom, as a single mom, this weekend is really tough.  I’ve spent the better part of today either crying or fighting the tears that want to come, depending on the situation.  Crying at work isn’t typically the most acceptable way to greet customers, so I got by ok there.  It was actually a good distraction.  But it was difficult to hold back when I was at the grocery store and several people were buying flowers, and cards, and I was overhearing conversations of the planned menus that were being prepared tomorrow for all the moms.

I keep thinking back to a couple years ago, my first Mother’s Day after things were finalized.  I remember sitting in Ihop with the kids, cutting pancakes and mopping up spilled orange juice and tending to everyone’s needs, when suddenly I looked around me.  It was like slow motion that I noticed all the families.  My eyes went from one table to the next, to the next, scanning the faces of moms, and kids, and dads.  That was the day I realized Mother’s Day would never be the same for me.

Fortunately, I managed to get my work schedule switched around tomorrow, so I can spend the day playing with my babies.  Assuming the weather cooperates, we’re going to spend part of the day at Eckert’s Farm over in Illinois where they will have rides, inflatables, and all kinds of other activities for the kids.  But the other day when I called to make reservations for Mother’s Day brunch and as I spoke to the lady on the other end, she asked how many.

“Four,” I told her.

“Are there any children in your party?”

“Yes, 3.”

“But you said there are 4 total in the party, right?”


I wanted to scream into the phone, “Yeah, that’s right!  I’m making my own reservation for my own brunch!  And I’ll be picking up the tab too!”  It wasn’t her fault that things turned out like this, but it was just one more reminder that my life didn’t go the way I planned.

The reality is I am a mom with great kids that I wouldn’t trade for the world.  The other part of my reality is…I do it alone.  Yes, I have a fantastic guy in my life who has come through for me big time on several occasions.  And yes, I have the most amazing friends ever who make sure I am never lonely.  And yes, my kids and my mom and the rest of my family love me to pieces and I’m so blessed to have them.  But none of them are responsible for taking on the role of the other parent in my household.  That is reserved for me alone.

Trust me, I’m not saying I regret my life choices.  And I’m not saying I want to be back where I was.  But I pulled out a picture earlier of Mother’s Day morning a few years ago.  My three babies sitting on the floor next to my bed, crowded around a tray full of pop tarts and soggy cereal and something in a plastic wrapper.  They had decorated big cards that read “I love you, Mommy!”  That picture was taken the last time I got to wake up on Mother’s Day to my babies’ smiling faces.  Tomorrow I will meet them at church and we will go off and spend a fun day together.

And while there is definitely something to be said for sleeping in, I would trade that a hundred times over for the snuggles in bed, and a tray of soggy cereal and cold pop tarts prepared for me.

I keep thinking about my friends that have lost their own moms, and my friends who have had several miscarriages or lost children, my friends who have been alienated from their children and friends that have struggled with infertility.

Mother’s Day is a beautiful sentiment to honor and celebrate the women who have brought us into the world and loved us unconditionally.  But it is also bittersweet for many.

The fact is we can’t have any way of knowing what the experience is of anyone we encounter tomorrow.  So the best we can do is to honor the moms of the world, wherever their babies are, on earth, in heaven, in their hearts.  And tomorrow if you look around and notice a mom without a partner, or someone with sadness in their eyes, give them an extra smile.  As a personal request from RRG, do what you can to pay it forward and spread a little extra sunshine.

So to all of the women in my life, whether you are a mom or not, I salute you and celebrate you tomorrow for the beautiful souls that you are and all that you bring to this world!

To all of the moms in my life, we have the toughest and most amazing job ever.  Thank you for helping me navigate this challenging, rewarding, heart-breaking, exasperating, wonderful path of motherhood.

To the ones who are grieving, if I could wrap you in a big Lindsey sized hug, I would do it!  I am sending love and prayers to so many of you.

To the three little people who made me a mom, I can’t imagine life without you.  You make me laugh, you make me cry, and sometimes you make me completely CRAZY.  But I love you all a super, super, super lot!  And I wouldn’t trade you for anything!

And finally to my own mom, there are no words to thank you for all that you have put up with from me, but my one hope is that I can be to my children even half of what you have been to me.  Love you, Ma.  Thank you for making tomorrow worth celebrating!  Happy Mother’s Day.

Mother's Day 2011


Letting Go of the Martyr Thing…

Before I start, I want to give a quick update on Katherine.  Thank you so much for all the prayers, she is doing really well.  She was awake about a day after I posted and was communicating through writing while she was still intubated.  Last I heard, the breathing tube was removed and she was resting up in preparation for surgery scheduled for today to repair her facial fractures.  She still has an intensive recovery ahead of her, but the worst is behind us. She proved that she is the Superwoman we all believed her to be!
Something cool that happened from my last post was that my friend Leslie reached out because she had just met Katherine a couple weeks ago.  Katherine had posted looking for a photographer in Chicago and I gave her Leslie’s name.  Leslie had the pleasure of meeting Katherine’s entire family on the River front for photos.  Leslie thanked me for bringing my world’s together.  I always say I love small world stories, but my world is small because I make it that way.  I love bringing people together.  It’s who I am.
Now I’ll tell you a story…
Today I went out for a nice, little 16 mile run.  Ok, so most people wouldn’t put little in the same sentence as running 16 miles.  Fair enough.  I did the same thing I’ve done the past couple Thursdays, which has become my one “free day” during the week.  I don’t have to go to school on Thursdays and if I work it isn’t until later in the day.  So I’ve been dropping the kids at school and taking advantage of my solitude out in the woods.
This morning a couple ladies asked me if I was a “real ultra runner”.
“Are you an ultra runner? Because you look like an ultra runner.”
“I’ve done AN ultra”, I informed them.  “And I’m getting ready to run Berryman next weekend.”
“Oh, doesn’t that have one that’s like 50 miles?”
“Yes, but I’m just doing the marathon.”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I heard how ridiculous it sounded.  “Just a marathon”.
At what point did we become a society that belittles our accomplishments?  I realize that the running community is known for this, but it happens a great deal in our everyday lives too.
I’m “just” a stay at home mom.  I’m “just” an associate.  I’m “just” a (fill in the blank).
I was thinking about this while I ran today.  And let’s face it, even though I “just” ran 16 miles, I was out there for the better part of the morning.  So I thought about several of the events of the past week.  Such as…
Last Thursday morning when I arrived at the Al Foster trail head, I pulled into the parking lot “just” ahead of my friend Heather.  (See what I did there?  Ok, sorry, I’ll stop.  For now.)  Heather was meeting a girlfriend to go for a run.  They invited me to join them, but I didn’t want my pace to slow them down.  And I was in need of zoning out, so I sent them on ahead.  But we chatted in the parking lot for a bit.  Heather gave me some of the details about Katherine’s accident that I hadn’t gotten.  We were all still pretty shaken by the whole thing.
Before Heather and her friend left, Heather said something that stuck with me this week.  She said there was a song that she always associates with me when she hears it on the radio.  I couldn’t place the song she meant, but I appreciated the sentiment.  It was something about a fight song.  I planned to look it up later.
That was Thursday, the weekend was a whirlwind!  Friday I dropped the kids at our friends house to ride to school, headed off to school myself, straight to work from there and finally arrived home in time to put Silas to bed Friday night, so I could study for a bit.
Saturday was off to the races early.  I dropped Ally at her dad’s for coverage of her day’s activities (Cue:severe mommy guilt for missing her Gymnastics Showcase).  Then we had Ethan’s baseball pictures at 9am and game at 10am.  The game went into extra innings, because I wasn’t stressed enough about the schedule, and we came screeching into the garage just minutes before Ethan’s friends arrived for his birthday party.  Fortunately my beau and his little dude were already there, just in case.  Brian and I filled canteens for all the boys, loaded everyone into the cars and headed off to Shaw Nature Reserve for an afternoon of hiking and exploring.  After everyone was thoroughly exhausted, we headed home for parents to pick up their boys. I ordered pizza while our boys played Wii.  Then B and I collapsed on the couch for a bit.  I may even have dozed briefly.  After B and G left, and my boys were settled for the night, and Ally was retrieved from her cousin’s house, I sat down for another study session until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.
Sunday morning we were all pretty quiet.  B and G were back in time to go church with all of us. We caravan-ed over to the Crossing and I passed my kiddos off to their dad after service.  Then I raced home to change clothes and grab food before going to work for the day.  After work, I got in a short run and a shower and I was studying (while cooking salmon and drinking a glass of wine) when B showed up for dinner.  Neither one of us had enough energy to do anything more than sit on the couch.
Monday morning I was up with the sun for one last study session before heading off to school to take another exam.  I tanked this one.  And by tanked I mean it brought my average down to a 94%.  I’ll survive to see another day.  But my competitive nature is flaring.  During the 3 hours of lecture that followed, I found my mind wandering more than usual.  And at 1:00 when I finally sat down on my counselor’s mini-couch (I won’t say love seat, that’s a stupid name for a piece of furniture, especially in a therapist’s office), I promptly burst into tears.
“I’m so tired!”  I sobbed.
CRASH!  That was the the sound of my martyrdom crashing head first into a solid, cinder block wall.
We talked about a lot in our hour, but that’s covered under patient confidentiality so I can’t tell you the details.  I can, however, tell you that a big part of it had to do with me taking care of…me.
Yes, it’s true.  I have this problem with being a martyr.  I try to be all things to all people.  I make sure everyone is cared for.  And while I stepped out on my own a few years ago as a single woman, in an effort to take care of me, my needs, my heart, I still find myself crawl back into the role of martyr on occasion. It’s a sneaky, subtle process.  And then eventually I hit a breaking point which brings me to the realization that I’m back.
Last night I was out to pick up a couple things, gifts for Ally’s teachers and supplies for Silas’ talent show skit.  He’s going to be Silas the Mad Scientist and do “experiments” with Pepsi and Mentos.  I hope someone will take a video since I will be at my own last day of class that day.  I walked into Bread Co to get some gift cards for the teachers and I saw, none other than, Amy Marxkors.  I find it hilarious that this girl and I can try and try and try to make plans, but they always fall through.  And then randomly we will run into each other multiple times in a week.  I saw her twice last week at the end of my 13 mile run on Al Foster.
I gave her a quick run down of what’s going on with me and found out about some cool new projects she is working on.  And then, like a flash, she was gone.  Off to deliver a strawberry smoothie to the little girl she was tutoring.  But the thing that is so cool about my random Marxkors sightings, is that they may be brief, but they are always profound.  I texted her later to say how glad I was to see her and that I knew it was supernatural.  Her text back was on point…”Oh, I’m so glad! It is crazy how we run into each other at just the right time.  Be strong and deny the “martyr” thing.  That’s just a lie the devil uses to steal our lives.  God talks about quiet and stillness.  You need that.  Don’t sacrifice that.”
So, today as I enjoyed my quiet and stillness…maybe not so much physical stillness as just letting my brain be still, I heard Him softly telling me, “It’s ok. You do an amazing job of taking care of everyone, but it’s ok to take care of yourself.  You are my child, too. Let go of the martyr thing…”
While a part of me wants to jump up and down and scream, “WooHoo!”, there is an equal part of me that isn’t really sure what letting go looks like.  Change is scary.  It’s “just” hard.  But’s it’s also a necessary part of growth.
I have proven I’m a fighter.  I have proven I can do any darn thing I set my mind to.  I have proven I can be a full time mom, go to school, work and keep everything running like a well oiled machine.  But who am I trying to prove any of this to?  Now it’s time for me to prove that the fighter in me can fight the urge to be the martyr. Because I am so much more than “just” a martyr.  I can let go. I can make waves no matter what I’m doing. Or not doing. Starting now I reclaim my life.  I reclaim me.
And Heather’s song is still just as appropriate.  Take a listen…