Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jim at mile one: Surprisingly, I feel really good! My legs feel good.

People around us chuckled. We had started toward the back. It would be Jim's race/ his pace & he did great! Each mile brought reflection of a person dear to our family. Mile one was for "us." Mile 2 was for Jillian. Mile 3 was for Hannah. Mile 4 was for my sister. Mile 5 was for Betsy, Jim's mom. Mile 6 was for Grandpa Tom. On & on: one for family members, Lucy, Toledo Roadrunners & mile 12 was for me. 💕 I only took 1/2 of it until mile 12 1/2. That was the farthest Jim had ever run while training so I said the last 1/2 mile was for both of us. "It starts & ends with us..."

We had people talking to us during the course. "Weren't you on the news?" We chatted. We said thank you to each spectator & volunteer. As we approached the stadium, we saw cheering friends & got many high-5's. I started crying but it was brief; because it's hard to run & cry. As we got to the entrance of the stadium, we saw Amanda, our head Glass City Marathon ambassador. I waved. She got a big smile, looks at Jim & says: "Get in there, you Bad A$$!" We busted out laughing & it gave us a charge into the stadium. I didn't hear my name. I expected Jim to surge to the finish & I thought I'd see him "from behind." Instead, he grabbed my hand. Yep- I started crying & kissed his hand. We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand then hugged & cried (more) at the finish. I put that medal around his neck & told him that I knew he could do it. We saw friends, talked more & saw my sister & our girls. They hugged us even though we were sweaty. We came home, got cleaned up & went to a late lunch. I was going to pay for my Spring babies: Anita, Jillian, Jim & Hannah. I love them all so much. Jim's brother was in town from Texas. He was going to surprise Jim & come to his race. We missed each other; but, he met us for lunch & there was an 'argument' as to who would pay between me, my sister & my brother-in-law. 😂

We jammed & sang Hamilton songs on the way home. It was quite a perfect day.

On the course, Jim told me: "Momma, I'm going to keep running." I believe him. Later he told me: "My next goal is 15 miles... & hill work." 😂

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Today has been emotionally draining. I got up early & volunteered at the Glass City Marathon expo.

Jim's past year of recovery & training was picked up, locally, by the paper & tv news. They asked for a personal interview. The reporter asked questions & Jim answered most of them. We discussed the support that we received from the Toledo Roadrunners. -Not only was it hard reviewing & reliving a year and a half of emotions and sickness in a couple of minutes, we had an OUTPOURING of well wishes & supportive words. I had complete strangers approaching at the expo, wishing us well & giving me hugs. -I AM NOT A CRIER... but I am completely choked up.

I kept quiet & distant from everyone during all of this. Only after Jim was out of the woods did we share photos (all with his permission) & the extent of his illness. Seeing genuine kindness & concern in response to the details is moving.

I try to take myself out of an equation sometimes. Only then can you really see the true points of any situation. I feel that others are genuinely happy when a human being survives illness. They are happy for the person AND the family- kids & spouse. I know I would be happy that a family stayed in tact.

I appreciate everyone's kindness. Tomorrow will be emotional. It will be a happy ending to Jim's ordeal. Jim still has side effects from his sickness but compared to what we've been through-- it is manageable.

Thank you, Everyone, from our entire family. If I don't say anything in person, tomorrow, it's probably because I'm holding back an ugly cry. Please know we're in a good place, right now. 💕

Monday, April 17, 2017

I ran our last track night with the Marathon in Training group before Glass City Marathon, Sunday. It seems surreal. I didn't do anything "socially" with anyone outside of the scheduled workouts, twice a week... Some people were able to run together more often. I fit in two group runs, regularly. It was nice chit chatting a bit before & after our work outs.

I still have a hard time with the whole, "Hey, you don't know me. What's your name?" I CAN approach strangers if I am representing a cause... but I 'can't' be that way all of the time.

Tonight, I felt a sadness knowing I may not have the courage to approach these strong runners, again, individually. I'll try... because while I wasn't always in the "thick" of the conversations (I can't concentrate to hold a conversation during a run)... it was nice to be part of the "group" & listen.

Tonight, I was the only female in my pace group. There were many women in attendance, tonight; but my pace group was 5 (pretty large) guys & 4'11" me. I ran at the back... & listened. Such is the life of a wallflower. It's comfortable.

Two young boys at the park pretended they wanted to race us. I said, "Come on!" They sprinted along for awhile then putzed out. I admit I felt good about that! We ran past a young girl & her grandfather (?). I imagined someday she would remember me going past & recall 'the girl strong enough to run with the boys.' Maybe she would run, someday, too. My mind drifted from the conversation between the lead runners, dodging goose poop, looking at the water, contemplating the new work schedule, hiring a new employee, thinking of the Boston marathon & how I would need to train.  I also was looking for the next cone when we would stop our "sprint"!

Before I knew it, we were done. I quietly left. It felt like early dismissal from school as this is taper week for the majority of the group. No one noticed. I trotted back to my van- a mile away...

I want to join the Fall training group. The summer training group is hopeful but not likely as we have 4-H obligations that require me leading up some groups & projects. Add a graduating senior with graduation festivities, yard work with no hired help for it... & summer will fly by on its own. Training will be a lower ebb until the end of July.

Now home, I pick up my grown up responsibilities & plan. This week will go quickly. Jim's first 1/2! Canton quickly following. I'm kind of on a downer after watching Boston. I didn't even run it & have the post-race blues! I need to focus on what's ahead-- & there's a lot still coming.

Life is good, right now. Running just adds to it.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

10 miler on the training schedule, today. I admit, I got butterflies looking at it. I have a lot of work on TH nights. Having a double digit run during the day, in addition to running kids back & forth between high school and college... capping it off with hours of work makes for a long day.

I popped a caffeine pill, put it in low gear & started a trot. I had a route in mind, music & a cool day. I started on the paved all purpose trail at Oak Openings & moved onto crushed gravel. Ahead of me, I saw Canada geese & chuckled as I saw them "running" the trail. Their swaying plump bodies did not look comfortable trying to stay ahead of me. I wondered if this is how others saw me at races, from behind- short, thick in the middle, ducky feet, swaying awkwardly & a slow pace... 😁

I reflected on how I would relate this experience on social media & WHY. -As a late bloomer, I feel strongly about "telling all." I was so convinced that I "couldn't"... that I didn't try. I know there are others like me. Moms raising kids- giving so much of themselves- they forget that they deserve respect, also- from others AND themselves.

I heard late bloomers often can't distinguish between discomfort & injury/pain. I admit this was the case with me. I had no knowledge of: gear, form, pace, fueling, race day strategy, positive talk, training... I want other women to know that it's ok to "not know" & learn as you go... or better yet... learn from other's mistakes (mine).

As I reflected on the geese ahead of me & my own biomechanics, I wanted to write about it. It addressed the "what if people laugh at me?" question as well as self-image. -I still don't "look like a runner." I'm finding that people still judge. While I don't like it, I do it, too. And when it boils down to its basic human elements, we'll keep doing it. Let people think what they want when they see my matriarchal hips & thick middle. I know how far I've come. I know my "waddle" was slower & always injured. I know a fast waddle comes before flight...

And- by the way- when I DO post my race times (you may notice I often don't post my training run times-- slow & steady), my intent is to show a person can blow their own expectations out of the water. My pace is NOT as fast as some... & it is WAY faster than others. Pace is relative to YOU. My intent is not bragging. My intent is to help women know not to "sell yourself short." I am STILL making advancements at 48 years old! I never thought I'd race... or race without vomiting... let alone come first in my age group... or miss Overall Female Masters by less than 40 seconds/mile. (Mind you, that's a lot faster than me... but not out of my grasp...) The change is a process physically; but, I'm finding it's a mental transformation as well.

This Momma Goose still has some feathers to ruffle... & I'll share the stories as I go.

I can (pretty confidently) say that most reading this post aren't elite runners. I want you to know it's ok. It's okay to "suck" at the beginning. We all do...

I promise: "it" can happen. Moms are a tenacious bunch. Women are an unyielding strength. Use a bit of that for yourself... & amaze yourself. 💕

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Training runs: Jim & I have learned a rhythm. When I ran with people faster than me, I was very cognizant of them turning to "check on me." It caused anxiety. At Glass City, it will be Jim setting the pace. I will run next to him or slightly out of his peripheral so as not to cause anxiety. -He has never done this Distance & plans to run, not race it, like any other training run. (Little does he know about the charge a taper will bring as well as race day excitement...) -I DO suspect that it will not be the last 1/2 we do together, however. I've got a list & will wait to bring it up in a few weeks. 😁

Jim has put in more miles than HE ever thought he would- preparing for the Glass City. He did his first mile (again), this summer (?). It was roughly 14-ish minutes. Considering he was emaciated & bed ridden, then in a wheel chair & barely able to stand & walk... we were ecstatic when he did indeed "Trot" a full mile!!! I have had people ask what our estimated pace will be on race day. To this I reply: the distance is the goal, not the time. AND when he crosses that finish line, it will represent much more than any race I've ever done. It will be the end of his photo album ("Jim's Recovery Album 2") on Facebook & the beginning of a new photo album: "Jim's Races." We'll drop "recovery" from the title. 👍🏼

He's ready...

Monday, April 10, 2017

Podiatrist appointment: he asked 'how it was going.' He wanted to know if I was able to keep training since our last appointment. I told him about my two long runs with triple band-aids for the cushioning & my 5K PR. "I hate you..." he chuckled. We talked about me doing a 6:50 pace but getting scared that I couldn't keep that pace. (I'm not talking worried. I literally mean scared...) "Scared of what?" Me: "Heaving in front of people at mile 2 or 3..." Dr: "Who cares?! You limit yourself with THAT (points to Garmin). Listen to your body & not limit yourself with that..." -Little does he know how much I've questioned myself in the past. How much I've mentally overcome, already. I used the illustration of a baby elephant at a circus. 'They tie them to a stake, outside, with a thick rope. The baby will pull & pull until exhaustion & cant get away/break the rope. Eventually it stops fighting. As an adult, they tie a small string/thin rope around the grown elephant's leg. The elephant has been CONDITIONED to believe it can't break free & doesn't try.'

My dr looked at me as I used this illustration. His eyes got big. "I was wondering where you were going with this. Do you consider yourself a baby elephant?" He smiled. "I think I'm learning that I was 'conditioned' to believe in limitations... I'll move past that... I AM moving past that."

I do want to see how fast I can eventually get... but I STILL put on the brakes. "My range is X to Y. My next race will be Y to Z... but no one cares if it is something different. I could hit a 3:55 & qualify for Boston/ or a 4:05/ or a 4:15... no one cares but me." Dr: "I understand..." Me: "I know you understand. That's why I'm telling you." We both laughed then he commented on wanting matching capris, like mine. Me: "We could be twins & no one would be able to tell us apart..." 😂

He's a good guy. He's a former TRRC member & former marathoner (now has limiting health issues). I see his eyes light up when we talk about running.  Maybe he'll come back around realizing you can still be active in the club even if you don't run marathons.

If he does come back, just make sure you can tell us apart if we wear our matching capris. 😁

Sunday, April 9, 2017

I didn't know "what" I'd be able to do, today. I had a long run, yesterday, & my ankles were a bit tender. I saw some familiar faces & was asked the age old question amongst runners: "What pace are you doing?" -Seriously, I don't know "what" I can do. It fluctuates from day to day. I thought I should be able to hold a low 8 minute per mile pace. SECRETLY, I was hoping for an 8:05 pace. The gun went off & I took off... I was feeling comfortable but my mouth was a little dry. *sucking wind?* I looked at my Garmin & it said I was doing a 6:50 per mile pace. While I FELT okay I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to hold that for 3.1 miles-- at least not yet. I slowed- on purpose. As I looked down periodically, I was seeing a 7:30-ish pace. I wondered if that was still too much to ask. As I saw myself leaning toward a high 7 min mile, I was getting mad. My mind was reeling. "Sub 8's for three miles. That was your long term goal. You're doing it." While it was happening, I already wasn't happy that I wasn't trying harder for mid 7's. "Just get 3 sub 8's then you can shoot for 7:30's on your next one..."

It's amazing the dialogue I have in my head. Sometimes I tell myself to cut myself some slack & go easy. Sometimes I'm really beating myself to work harder. I AM noticing that I haven't heard the voice that said I "couldn't" for awhile. I was surprised to hear a new voice, regularly, "Come on, you can do this. You've got this. You've done this before. This is the same thing you've already done at track..." I cannot tell you what a MENTAL boost the Marathon in Training Group has been for me! KNOWING I "can" is MORE than 1/2 the battle for me personally.

I am forever indebted to Coach Mary for making a wallflower feel welcome & STAYING with the program when every ounce of me wanted to bolt, hide & not come back (mentally). Coach Eric for doing all of our pacing at track & long runs. Him telling us the pace we were trying to hit & getting us there, I KNEW I could do it-- no doubt. Even our cheerleader, Jenifer (who has since moved to a different pace group) runs through my mind, "Woooooo! We've got this!" (then fist bumps the group).

The support I've received from Jim has been HUGE! Having him with me on training runs is amazing & gets me out the door, regularly.

I- seriously- don't know what time I'll have in Canton. The elevation is an unknown for this living-in-pancake-flat-ville girl. All of this is new & I'm just enjoying the transformation. I am seeing advancement & I know it's all "working." This year & next year... I'm just happy to see the numbers going down. Of course, I'd like to see PR's by a minute per mile at every race!😁 It's not likely, however-- not YET... 💕