Monday, December 11, 2017

Epiphany, today: as I saw Jillian struggle but still work through this semester, my heart hurt. She was overwhelmed with organizing, transitioning & the new learning style of college. It was no longer "memorizing facts" but learning "concepts" & being prepared to answer "what if" questions. I couldn't help. I wasn't in her classes & couldn't help her study, organize or prepare. She fell behind but kept showing up. Eventually, we applied for Trio. This is a program at UT that will follow her through her college years "helping" in whatever way an individual student may need assistance. Some students may need help transitioning to the U.S. culture if they are from another country. Some students may need career counseling, financial counseling, assistance with housing or food. Jillian is taking advantage of the tutoring program. I cannot tell you what a relief it is to see her smile after finishing homework with her tutor. When she said, "It was fun doing the math with him," I was floored! Chemistry formulas fun?! I tried to stress to her that she CAN do the work. She sometimes needs assistance deciphering directions. Often, she struggles more with trying to figure out "what" they want versus "doing" the work.

As we sat in the parking lot before heading to her exam, I caught myself praying. I remembered the phrase: "There are no atheists in the trenches." I wished I could influence an A for her effort-- then I caught myself. How would that benefit her? How would getting a job with a degree that she didn't earn help her? I realized this is why we didn't home school. There must be some struggle & influence aside from a sheltered home or your kid will never be able to function outside of home. I realized, "What good is an A in a homeschooled chemistry course if I kept taking out the struggle so she didn't really learn chemistry?"

I then realized even if she failed, she could use what she learned as a base & take the class, again. Isn't that what I've done with races? I've completely fallen apart during high (self-imposed) stressful situations. I learned, reworked a plan & tried again. I realized why I hated the idea but felt the need to race. I needed someone's unbiased course/event/situation to show myself & prove to others that I had been doing the work. I wasn't pampering myself or lying about my abilities. I would be getting true, raw feedback of my abilities.

I realized then, that our girls will be just fine. As parents, our responsibility is to protect our kids from the world but not shelter our kids from the world. A parent's job is to prepare their kids for the world. I don't mean a cold world of hard knocks by pushing them into the deep end of the pool & telling them that they had better learn to swim fast or drown. I don't mean screaming at them out of frustration. Not even adults like that. -I mean teaching communication skills, reasoning skills, organizational skills, domestic skills, trying to juggle work & recreation, respect...

Again, I realized:
our girls are going to be alright.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

I've been doing solo miles a lot this training cycle. It's just the way the schedule landed this time. After the Churchill's 1/2 marathon, I did a 5K with Jim; but, most miles since then, have been in solitude. For the most part, I don't mind; but, it gets kind of lonely when I am by myself all of the time. -My old training group still stays in touch via group messaging. There are regular invitations for weekend group runs; but, it would mean getting up early, driving farther than my beloved Oak Openings & being "social." I've said 'no' on numerous occasions. Today, though, three other women from my group talked about coming. They are strong & positive. I "got over myself" & my social nerves. I hauled myself over there. One runner changed her mind for a total of 5 Yetis meeting, this morning. Everyone was cold but smiling. We chatted the ENTIRE time about cold gear necessities, races, Disney races, our MIT schedule & upcoming coaches. 7 miles passed quickly.

Two of us did 7 miles. 3 did 9 miles, together, & one kept going to finish 18 miles! She is prepping for a Disney marathon. She spoke of her friend doing the Dopey Challenge. This is a WEEKEND of races: a 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon & full marathon in 4 days. "Are you doing the Dopey Challenge?" I asked. "No, I'm just doing the marathon." -I literally laughed out loud. I often say, "I 'only ran' XXX miles." I have never said, "I only did the marathon." This is not unique, though. Many trail races I've participated in have had races ranging from: 5K, 5 miles, 10K, 1/2 marathon, marathon, 50K, 50 miler, 100K & 100 miler over a long weekend. I've "only done" the shorter races. I realized how "silly" it sounded to undercut such an accomplishment.

It was "only" 7, for me, today. I say "only" in comparison to mileage I've done in the past- not in comparison to what others did, today. It felt awkward but good to be around others, talking about overcoming injuries, short term as well as long term plans we each had in the works.

We followed the slogan on my shirt: Run Happy... & before we knew it, we were done. I'm adding a mile or two, next weekend as I build my base, again. Taking a break has been good. I was starting to feel a bit burned out; but, now, it's time to start stoking the fire, again.

Outside winter running: prevents cabin fever &  makes the miles & months appear to go by faster. Before you know it winter will be "done." Get out & enjoy winter running at your local Metroparks. Soon Spring will be here. Embrace the cold... & then the heat. Spring races are just around the corner.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"As you wish..."

This was the line the 'poor farm boy' told Buttercup in the movie The Princess Bride. He was so smitten with her, he gave her demands precedence over anything he was doing. He did her will and gave her total preference over his own free will in life.  In the Bible, it was stated that 'the spirit left the people' when they had emotionally given up.

Why am I sharing this? There comes a time, that you care about someone so much, you give them precedence over your own desires. If there is frustration or anxiety, sometimes it can be so overwhelming, you can emotionally "shut off." I suspect it's a coping/survival mechanism.

The last few days have been emotional, to say the least. I was upset, frustrated & anxious. When I realized I had (honestly) little control, my spirit went out.

Today: I could do my morning routine of school drop offs, then climb back into bed for a bit (which I seriously considered) -OR- I could get my butt moving & change my mood. I had no desire to do anything but worry & mope. I missed my husband, my kids... my sister. I wanted to change my mood... but DIDN'T want to change my mood. -I KNEW I needed to change it. No one wants to be around a mopey downer.

I knew trail running would fix it. Road running allows my mind to wander & plan. When you trail run, you are "only in the present." You need to pay attention to tree roots, terrain and obstacles. You are constantly making quick decisions so you don't trip and fall. It's a good way to momentarily "put down" emotionally heavy weights & responsibilities, then pick it all back up when you're done. I did.

I came home smelling of cold, fresh air. The smell of "wind" permeated my clothing, my hair, even my skin. My mood had softened but not left entirely. I got cleaned up, had lunch & finished high school to college transportation.

I texted my sister, made plans & told her I love her. I saw my husband & kids. I was quiet, tried not to cry but told them I loved them as I hugged them, individually. My husband loves me. My kids love me. My sister loves me. I'm content with that strong core. It's enough to tell them: "As you wish..."

Sunday, December 3, 2017

I didn't want to go to the race, tonight. It's the beginning of the month & I haven't finished billing. Jim worked, yesterday, & his legs were shot. We had a lot of excuses why it would be easier to stay home... but the good thing about paying ahead of time: not wanting to lose your money & you tend to go. :)  I knew we would have fun once we started. I knew we would see smiling faces; &, I knew they would be memories for myself & Jim. --I had SO much fun. We were trotting a slow pace. At the end, Jim sprinted from an 11 min mile to an 8:30! He was NOT going to shake me! I stayed right with him & we were laughing at the end. I know it's best not to pass him; so, I stay close. He is getting tired of not placing in his age group. I suspect he will be focusing on speed, now. I'm super excited!

I tell people that there used to be a time I would whine & belly ache that I was "doing this all alone." Now, Jim is out there with me. I stay with him on the course. Sometimes, I think about taking off; but, there are other races I get to truly race. I am glad when we finish, together-- always. We get to talk on the course & see the same things & talk about them, later. Knowing we're together beats any little trinket as an age group award; HOWEVER, if it's a gift certificate award... that may be a different set of rules. ;)

We saw people we knew, took photos, talked to fellow runners on the course & walked around afterwards.  It was fun telling people that I "dressed" Jim, today, & watch their reaction. Honestly, running with someone else in costume gives me more confidence to do so. I STILL get embarrassed showing up in a "loud" outfit. Wearing those silly outfits makes for such fun & happy memories, afterwards. It was a great date.

Now that we are back home, paper work is still on my desk & Jim's football game is on his DVR. I hear him calling to the football game on the tv as I type about our date. A  few hours, together, makes the daily grind bearable, again. Now, where was I...?

I've been resting. I've been giving myself permission to get caught up on stuff around the house or do "nothing." I've trotted low miles & explored/planned 2018's race schedule. I am looking at marathons, 1/2 marathons, Ultras, trail races, destination races & duathlons. Until the girls are independent, I'm thinking local races are in the cards, only.

Marathon training starts Jan 1st. Until then I've eaten candy from Halloween & cut back my miles. You guess what the outcome has been. 😳😮😫 No worries. It happens every year. Trails are dangerously covered, right now but they call me.

Today, however, Miracle on Main Street 5K, this afternoon, with Jim. I need to get work done before we head out. It will be a nice break, today.

Friday, November 24, 2017

As I reflect on yesterday, it wasn't just 5 miles. There were 2 water stations on the course. "It's only 5 miles. Who needs water for 5 miles?" The thought quickly came & left. "When did 5 become 'only'?"

We did Jim's pace. He is slower than he used to be before his illness. We categorize our life, now, "before Jim got sick" & "after Jim got better." Jim poured over his numbers, yesterday. His age group ranking, his overall ranking, total number of runners, fastest in his age group, etc. It can be torture, sometimes.

Jim ran a few seconds slower than, last year--BUT-- he is a good 20 pounds heavier and stronger than last year! The ease & feeling of overall strength he had when he crossed the finish line is also to be taken into consideration. Numbers don't tell the whole story. My time doesn't show I was running with Jim. My time doesn't show I was high-5'ing every police officer & saying thank you. My time doesn't say I was taking pictures & waving to little kids on the bus as I was in my Pocahontas outfit- running next to a "politically incorrect" costumed Pilgrim. I waited for people to say something. No one did until the finish. An older man approached Jim & said he liked his outfit "now, when everything has to be politically correct." Jim said, "It's okay. I married a little Indian" then points to me. "Oh, all right!" the old man says. -Ewwww! We weren't trying to be political; but, I guess we were expecting to "stir the pot." Most people didn't say anything. What could they say? Clearly Jim is "the white man" & I AM Indian. We ran together; &, we make it work.

Did we dress up to celebrate Thanksgiving? Some people will say so. I love the idea that I have some connection to the idea of a trail running, Disney Indian. Some pointed out to me that she was likely a child bride- unlike Disney portrays. I have no doubt that is true. I have not researched it. Little known shocker, though: it is still practiced, today. Child brides are common in places where girls don't have access to education. Where girls don't have access to education, what else "are" they but property and a tool to grow & sustain a family. This is why we feel so strongly about our daughters receiving an education. They may CHOOSE to someday marry... or not... but they will not NEED to be dependent on anyone in their life. (Clearly my pet peeve-- but I'm going off topic.)

Back to the subject of our first world Turkey Trot race: I didn't celebrate holidays growing up. Part of me feels like I'm breaking a law as I dress up for a race. I'm still not officially celebrating holidays; but, I'm not pretending they don't exist anymore. I'm not refusing to utter the holiday's name. And clearly, yesterday, I dressed as an Indian- associated with Thanksgiving traditions. I just wanted to be Pocahontas; and, if people wouldn't look at me weird, I'd do it more often. (I'm ready to bust this outfit out for a Disney race! 💕) Can you imagine me wearing this at Oak Openings on the Yellow/Scout Trail? 😂😆😂😆

I did my first, solo, Turkey Trot (not dressed in costume) 3 years ago. When Jim was sick & we were visiting Cleveland Clinic. I needed to run & didn't know the area. What better way to get a run in but follow the arrows & not be alone during a challenging time? Jim's Atheist step mom (her own words) was making a meal. She is kind & did not make me feel pressured to celebrate "anything" other than have a meal after Jim's doctor appointment. It was the first time I had been part of such a large meal. No prayer was said. No religion was discussed. I felt awkward but included. We came back into town the following year. This time Jim & I both dressed as Indians. We had so much fun & the group smiled at our outfits. -This year, the big meal was cancelled in Euclid. Jim & I had already paid for the race so we went, anyways. There were almost 9,000 runners! It was crazy & an adventure that I share with my little "white man." (Jim asked me to revise this as "my little, white Polack. -Living "dangerously" & politically incorrect.) I hope to participate in this every year, now. Why? My motive: It's running! It's a large group of festive runners; &, I'm not running solo, anymore. There will always be a race I can RACE... but there aren't many opportunities to dress up in costume with my now healthy hubby & have fun. Running fun?! Yep! Another "never thought that would be true" fact.

I am grateful.

I have been saying for the past 2 years, "I am grateful..." I do not use those words, lightly. When you've been through hell, watching your family suffer, you are grateful for breathing on your own, walking unassisted, eating, driving, working, healthy enough to do housework, etc.

I don't need "Thanksgiving" to remind me to be thankful; but, I understand the sentiment. I am giving thanks EVERY day.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Chiropractor appointment today: pushing, rotating & pulling of my neck, back, legs & hips into alignment. Yowzas! I was still feeling tight when I left the office but "better." Then on the drive home my SI joint (the "T" where your spine & hips connect) "clunked." It was a sound like an old car with a bad transmission "dropping" & "clunking" into a different gear. It was MOST UNLADYLIKE; but a great relief. I am absolutely pain free & loose as a goose, right now. 
I told Dr. Poitinger about my 1/2 marathon & he assessed that "opening up my speed" on my declines was probably a lot of pounding on my body. 
I used to hate hills. Now,😂
I absolutely love them! The declines are the absolute best! I can truly fly... but I have to visit my mechanic, after I land.