Monday, October 9, 2017

Copied from Facebook- my race recap: 

EXPO: As Jim & I walked the almost 4 miles to the expo, we saw some pretty amazing things. We took some awesome photos & talked to some complete strangers. I saw a "monster" promoting a local Chicago race. I had to get a silly picture... then my husband yelled out, "It's a Yeti!" as he's taking the photo. I was dumbfounded. "Why didn't I realize that, sooner?!" My Training group is called the Yetis! It was great! 

As I walked up to the expo, holding hands with Jim, I was overwhelmed. A bucket list race- that I never thought I'd do; with my death-defying husband; knowing our daughters were safe, still sleeping in our room; looking at the lake ahead; looking at the buildings to our left & thousands of people surrounding us... I was SO HAPPY to even BE there. Just getting here has been a journey. 
While I train to race; I try not to lose sight of what a great experience it all is. I try to remember to appreciate what I can do. 

Training for a marathon puts you in many situations. Race day is never predictable, however. Less than a mile into the race, a woman tripped in front of me. I almost stepped on her. Mile three, a woman asked if I was okay. "Yes." "You have something leaking on your back." Another runner hands me a paper towel. I look at my side & there is vomit or diarrhea on my right side. I am COVERED from my back to my abdomen in something sticky. I stop behind a bus area, take off my Hydraquiver & check my backside. Did I have the runner trots?!?! No-- from what I can gather: apparently someone threw their gel pack & hit me, or I leaned into it in the corral. It was on my strap & every time it swayed as I ran, it rubbed onto my arm. My arm carried it to my side. I was covered! I stopped at a water station. They dumped water on my shirt & we tried to wash it out. I went out again & felt the "gunk" hitting my arm from my strap. I stopped at the next water stop & they washed the strap to my harness. I took off again & realized I had I giant spot on the top of my hand. I stopped again to wash my hands. That was mile 3, 7 & 9. Good thing I wasn't racing.

I tried to stay between 10-10:30 miles because I wanted to see everything. I did! I saw the Chinese dragons. I saw the ROTC guys spinning their wooden rifles. I saw the cross- dressing guys blasting music & blowing kisses. 😳 I saw an Elvis impersonator. I saw school bands, bagpipes, drummers 🤘🏼, heard Salsa music, Gangem Style music & dancers, young kids asking for high-5's, PEOPLE (!!!). There was not a 1/10 of a mile without people cheering their heads off. I turned onto LaSalle (?) & the crowd's cheering was thunderous & loud (!!!) echoing off all the old buildings. I started crying. All of these complete strangers were cheering for other strangers! A woman saw me crying, reaches out to touch me & cheers me on! I started crying more! Then two other people tell me it's okay & that I'm doing great. This was not unique. I had numerous people calling to me when I got shin splints & stopped to stretch. Strangers were calling to "Mexico", "Australia" & all the other countries or groups with advertisements on their shirts. One man yelled out to me: "Good job, Pigtails!" I laughed. I gave a thumbs-up to the bands. I was amazed at a man using a folding chair as a crutch & had his arm around a police officer as he gimped to the finish. I saw numerous people cramping- like me. I saw people vomiting. I saw people whisked away as they collapsed. I saw a woman getting loaded onto a makeshift emergency 4 wheeler with an IV. --Yeah, slow is good for me. She was ahead of me but at least I would finish. 

I saw my family on the course-cheering- 💕 & a fellow INKnBURN alumni! She wasn't racing, she was spectating- saw me, called out my name & gave me a high-5. Unbelievable!!! I thought I'd be "alone" on the course, today- a "no name" blending into the 45,000 runners. I was wrong.
As I trotted along, I thought, "I'll stick to 1/2's. I'm done with marathons. They hurt." I know I'll forget & sign up, again. The crowds & experiences far out weigh the discomfort I felt. 
As I got home & assessed this past weekend, I was a mixed bag of emotions. 
Mommy Guilt: I took my kids out of their study/homework routines & they have to pay the Piper, today. I feel like I'm sending them into battle without a sword & telling them to "do your best." 
Disbelief: It's hard to believe it really happened & it's over. Lots of practice & training-- now it's "just done." 
Beating myself up: "You should have pushed the pace & sucked it up. Your finisher's time is a joke."
Self kindness: I was fighting an Achilles niggle. The last time I raced through it, I was down for a year! A slower pace would ensure I could participate & still live to tell the tale (& do my next race) in two weeks. "You made the right choice." 
Guilt: Time to pay the bills for a Chicago weekend for 4. 
Gratitude: My family came. They all showed up, together, on the course-- for the first time ever!!! I was SO happy to see them at mile 12! 
Happiness: Knowing the girls (& Jim) got to see a new place, seeing a "bigger picture", outside of our country homestead, makes me happy. They know there are "options" past our back yard. They don't have to "settle."
Gratitude: My body is an amazing thing. Even with a mommy pooch & poor biomechanics, it got me through 26.2 miles of concrete. I can be upset that I didn't go faster (which I kind of am); but, I am amazed that I am walking & getting on with daily obligations, today. I asked my body to do something the majority of people will never ask their bodies to do. It came through the best it could, on that day. 💕

I hugged Jim before I entered the park, on race day. I thanked him & told him how much I loved him. I cried a bit. -Athletes, only, were allowed to the start. (We were scanned for weapons & security was tight. I appreciated it.) It was a stark reality of being separated from your family. I knew it wasn't permanent; but it was a reminder. I thought if this is "it" & I never see him again, Life has been good to me & more than fair. To experience your body's potential after a near death experience makes you HIGHLY aware of how easily it could all go away, quickly-- & I never want that to happen, again. 

I felt guilty all day thinking about my kids not studying or getting all their homework done, this weekend. Both had tests or projects, today. They rolled with it & got it done. I was relieved.

4 hour marathon or 5 hour marathon--> Selfish? Irrelevant to life? A joke? It's all relative. I genuinely am grateful that I can do this at all & I really enjoyed our whirlwind trip. As I wrote ALL of this down, A friend tagged me on Facebook, letting me know that registration will be opening, this month, for next year's race. Chicago 2018, I will probably be back. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

I don't mean to keep sounding the "you almost died" alarm to Jim... but... GEEZ... I have little flash backs all of the time!

Today, Jim & I did a shortie 5K. "Shortie" is relative. "Slow" is relative. Jim couldn't participate in this race last year. It took everything for him to attend with me then sit. The year before that, he was bed ridden & I missed the race all together. Entering a race "on a whim" was unheard of for Jim. At one time running with someone was difficult for me. At one time running slower than my normal pace was a no-no for my ego & anyone who would see my race results, later.

Today, none of that matters when I'm out with Jim. People were flooding past us. All I could think was: "But we're DOING it!"

At one time the THOUGHT of food would make Jim gag. Today, seeing him talk about donuts after the race, order them, excitedly open the package then close his eyes as he bit into them & let out an "ummmmmm" sound---> it made my heart smile!

He would never have worn a costume to a race. At one time I wouldn't either! Now, here we were in front of God & country trotting around like SNL cheerleaders. He said he "did it for me." I appreciate that. I did it for him! To encourage someone to run, encourage them to be playful & enjoy the run, look around during the run, then stay with them for the run--> that's what makes a partnership work in running & life.

I don't take any of it for granted. I was around families & a supportive community. It was beautiful seeing people & chatting but nothing compared to seeing Jim accomplish the impossible--> running... & eating that donut.

I am a happy girl! 💕

Friday, September 29, 2017

This summer I've noticed some things. I forgot to take my phone to work a couple of times or I would put my phone or keys down & not remember where they were. This didn't happen often; but for me, it was unusual. I told my doctor I had been crying. She said it was probably just me taking care of a family, juggling a sick husband, work & training. It apparently wasn't a reason to order a hormonal test or a brain scan. 😊 I was certain things were "changing." This month I went to read my phone & had to adjust how far it was from my eyes, a first. I also had to adjust the angle of my phone. I made an eye dr appt- mostly because I had one pair of contacts left. The usual readings & tests took place. I wanted glasses since my prescription had changed significantly. (I have been in glasses since first grade. I peaked at a negative 9.5, at one point.) As I've gotten older, people naturally get far sighted. This has worked to my advantage. I am now a negative 7.5 AND no more astigmatism in my right eye! Woot! Woot! Imagine my surprise when the lady fitting me for glasses said bifocals. "What?! My eyes are getting better!" Hmmmm... I do remember her saying something when I read the fine, small print about readers. I presumed I DIDN'T need readers. Perhaps I read the line easily because she DID magnify it. 🤦🏻‍♀️

So, I sat- she'll shocked- as she told me my options. I agreed to bifocals. They are my back up. Contacts are still my first visual aid.

I also got my teeth checked, yesterday. I had 50% bone loss after my braces. A specialist gave me options, yesterday. I was sad. He was optimistic. He was also a runner. I noticed his Detroit marathon shirt under his scrubs. He emailed me stuff to do in Chicago next weekend. I am stoked.

Recap: I'm losing my eyes & my teeth! 🙀 Kidding... BUT... I AM fighting getting old(er) as long as I can.

I'm running & doing stuff I couldn't do at 18; I'm proud of that. I suspect, however, that I'll be getting frustrated with my limitations- emotionally,
mentally & visually.

No choice-- it's going to happen. I'll be going with the flow-- but fighting at the same time.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

This past weekend was wonderful. Can running a race change the world? Maybe not. Can wearing pink Cure my friend with cancer? No. Can wearing pink show another friend I'm glad she kicked cancer? Yes. -Some of my race registration goes for local screening & stays to help local females. I know there are volunteers & I know there are others that get paid. If I dwell too much on it, I could get pessimistic at the cost of the race (that affects me) & lose sight of people. I heard women stating how long they had been cancer free, this weekend. I was genuinely happy for all of them; but when I heard one woman say she was cancer free for one month, I choked. The fear, the hope, the fear, again... I remember feeling all of it, not too long ago. 

I run because I physically can. It makes me feel alive even when it sucks. I run because I couldn't. I run because I was told not to... I run for other people when they can't & I run because a small part of my running monetarily helps those around me. 

There are upcoming events. I don't expect that Everyone can run every event, every weekend, every month; but, most of these races have a charity that benefits. I WISH I could do them all. I, personally, love the idea of benefitting kids, women & the sick. 

Why the long windedness? It was a feel good weekend. There is another race approaching, soon. 

Racing for Recovery is in October. I did it last year with Jim. I scoffed, at first, at the cost of two entries, honestly; but, it was local, a friend was doing her first 5K, Jim was well enough & wanted to participate. How could I say no? 

Jim went through his own recovery. While his battle wasn't with street drugs, a life or death situation is just that- no matter what the cause. This race was significant. It was Jim's second 5K post illness. I ran with him. I ran with him instead of solo; because, at one time he couldn't. I ran with him; because at one time I was whining because I WAS running, solo. Now, here, finally, I was running with my partner. Speed would come with strength & endurance.

As I see the advertising of this year's rock theme, I smile. I have never battled addiction. I hear it is awful. I hope to help, locally, while doing something I love. I'll be Racing for Recovery.
School drop offs & a dr appt had me to Oak Openings later than usual. My body is still sore from this weekend so I opted for soft- SHADED- trails since it was 80. 😩 It is getting dangerous with fallen leaves covering the trails. No more single track for me until after Chicago. I kicked a root with my left foot & went flying. No face plants, though! 

OMGooodness! Guess who I found at Oak openings? The woman who pushed me into all of this!  The woman who didn't let me get in the last word. The woman who kept telling me I "could" when I kept telling her I "couldn't."She kept reinforcing positivity when my own mother& husband said I couldn't. I thought I couldn't. She knew otherwise. She doted on me, today, like I was a kid she hasn't seen in a long time. She commented, repeatedly at how far I've come & how many changes I've made as a runner. As a fellow runner, she "gets it." She knows the amount of work it takes to get to a start line, a new pace or a new mind set. 

After chatting for some time in the parking lot, we went our separate ways. She invited me to run with her; but we are still very different runners. I NEEDED the trails on my achy body. She wanted pavement. I couldn't physically bring myself to endure the pounding of pavement, today. She chats. I "don't" when running. I am not "mute;" but at a fast pace, or a technical trail, I can't talk. I don't believe I am faster than her, despite what she said, today. I still don't believe I could ever out run her... & part of me wants to keep it that way. In my mind, she will always be the BQ qualifier, the goal setter, the inspiration, the original encouragement. 

I took that encouragement... & ran with it. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

I'm a runner-nerd. I write, think & schedule running around a crazy family schedule. Anyone raising kids knows that to be an "individual" can be difficult when raising kids. I feel selfish at times when I'm out doing miles; but, I know this past time strengthens my entire family, so I continue. I'm no elite. I'm "old" -or should I say "a master"? I'm thick in the middle; but I'm a "progress." I constantly write about this progress & I usually get positive feedback.

This past week & weekend was no different. I wrote about my training lows, complained about the heat & rejoiced over training highs- however brief they were. I wrote about Mirna on Facebook. I was mad that someone verbally attacked her. I was sticking up for her when I was hit with an avalanche of feedback. This wasn't about running. It was a verbal attack on her physical appearance, her person, her abilities and efforts.

My Facebook comments connected to this video: "Dang! This just REALLY upsets me. It's hard enough being the only color in a white sport. It's hard for me having "no waist" in a sport where lean is pristine. She is TRYING. She's not sitting on her a$$. (I'm sorry to use such language but seriously!!!) Give credit where credit is due! She has done longer distances than I have! You don't think she wants to lose more weight-- if anything, to be better at the sport she loves? She doesn't need harsh condemnation. She's putting her money where her mouth is. She's a process & I guarantee getting leaner will happen. 
I related to her saying that she came from a family where exercise was "foreign" to her. This was my background as well. It's hard to start with that deficit but it does show that anyone can get results. Some are genetically gifted. Some of us are fighting an uphill battle-- but we ARE battling. 
Give her some damn credit! (Again- excuse my language but this REALLY pisses me off! Excuse me, again.) Praise the effort & the results will come."  

I was enraged. If a person would attack her, it wouldn't take much for them to attack me & the rest of us "trying."

Some of us already have the negative,  doubting voices in our head. Running proves that we can overcome just about anything! "Overcoming" is relative to ourselves. Our body is a gift & deserves respect any time it works! If there is ONE thing I learned from Jim's illness, it's this: when something attacks your body & it stops working, there is nothing you want more than to do "normal" things that you once took for granted- sitting up, moving without assistance, going to the bathroom by yourself, walking, BREATHING, eating... If you "work", then be grateful. If you can walk or run--> at whatever pace you have on any given day, your body deserves applause. Put on blinders & ear plugs to idiots & quiet the voice in your head. I would be cheering others' advancements, why not my own? Why am I criticizing my best effort at that time? I've learned that I need to be merciful with myself & my abilities. 

When I started running, I was racing at 10 min miles. I was told that wasn't running. "9 min miles was running." I hit 9 min miles then the SAME person said it wasn't running. "I heard 8 min miles was 'running'." I hit 8 min miles & 7 min miles. Silence from "the definer" - no praise. Then I realized the definition of running/jogging/trotting is all relative. The person that touts a 6 min mile is JOGGING (dirty runner word) compared to an elite. My 10 minute mile is what my trim, once sickly husband is aspiring to- and getting there. Considering being completely bed ridden, a person's body "working" & "participating" IS WORTH AN AWARD. "Running" isn't defined by PACE. It's defined by effort. My 5K, all out 7 min mile running, is nothing compared to elites. But a 7 min mile is gloriously incredible to ME! AND-- Guess what? I still do my long runs at +10 minutes. 

This past weekend, I did a long run on Saturday & a 5K on Sunday. I said I wasn't going to race. I hadn't been doing speed work & the weather was not favorable to a PR. As walkers lined up at the FRONT of the start line, I moved farther & farther ahead. They joked that I could go around them despite the announcer telling walkers to let the runners start ahead of them. I caught myself thinking I was "faster." I was irritated- not that they were participating- but irritated that they refused to follow instructions for the benefit of safety and logistics of the large crowd.  The gun went off & I felt good. My breathing was fast & I checked my pace on my Garmin. It said I was at a 5:57 pace! I KNEW I couldn't hold that for the entire race. I also knew it was hot (I had been standing in the sun waiting for the start) & I did NOT want to get hurt before Chicago. I tried to slow down for the next couple of miles. As I got home looking at numbers, I see that I hit a 5:14 pace! I have NEVER done that! I didn't stay there long. This wasn't a mile race. I would have two more miles after the first! While I was momentarily jubilant at seeing a 5 minute pace, I was scared. I slowed WAY down. Mile one was a  sub 8. Miles 2 & 3 were sub 8:30's; then, I finished at a 7:15 pace kick to the finish. At one time I would have been ecstatic with that performance. I found myself critiquing negatively at my final time. I focused on hitting a 5 minute pace-- however brief-- then reigning myself back in. There was a time I would have walked. I didn't. I WANTED to-- I didn't. Small triumphs are mental confidence boosters IF you give yourself credit. 

Sometimes we advocate for & applaud others, like Mirna, noted above. Sometimes we can destroy ourselves the way her attacker did. As enraged as I was, I realize I am just as guilty- to myself & others, albeit not verbally. We are all a work in progress. -Praise the effort & the results will come...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

On this day, 2 years ago, Jim was fighting what we thought was the flu. He refused to go to the doctor. I dragged him to an urgent care office, after I dropped the girls off at school. I thought it would be a visit, a prescription & home to bed. He had a seizure in the parking lot & never even made it into the building. He was taken to the hospital & induced into a coma. Eventually he was life flighted to Cleveland Clinic. As I reflect on where we were & what we went through for the next year and a half, I realized it wasn't just his survival story. It unfolded into a love story- between two people & within our family. I pride myself at being analytical. I almost choked the first time Jim uttered "that word." I refrained from getting too emotional for years. As Jim woke up then went through a year of rehab, this "guarded heart" became a "bleeding heart." 

Yesterday, as I reflected on this, I couldn't control my emotions. I was supposed to run with my running group. I started with them & was able to run 11 miles. I once had a strong ability to "shut it off," emotionally. I couldn't. I left my group & sobbed for hours. I "ugly cried" on the trail as I walked back to my van. I cried in my van. I cried on the way home and as soon as I saw Jim, I gave him a sweaty-gross bear hug & sobbed more. I cried in the shower & decided I should just try to take a nap & "stop" so I wouldn't freak my family out. "Is this menopause? What is WRONG with me?!" I haven't cried that long in a LONG time. I've cried more since his recovery than when he was sick... or more than I can EVER remember crying, really. -I know people that are sick have it bad. Jim was so physically fragile that the girls & I worked & went into protective overdrive. What is often over looked are care givers. This experience was awful for myself & the girls as well. I was physically drained & trying to be emotionally "off" so I wouldn't collapse. I had to focus on juggling work, the girls, care giving responsibilities & home life.  They were juggling school, their own fears & taking care of their father. Three lionesses protecting the lion king until he could get up on his own. He did.
Today is the two year anniversary of Jim's admittance to the hospital. It has been a life altering event. He is a survivor. I understand, now, why cancer survivors wear that badge so honorably. It takes a true warrior to fight with every ounce of breath & strength when it hurts & you're so tired.
I see families separating & it makes me terribly sad. Ours is stronger now than it has ever been & I am grateful.