The Nature of Reality


It has been nine days since the Disney half marathon. Like clockwork, 8-10 days after every race I’ve run, I end up revisiting all that I have planned when it comes to races and training schedules and goals for what’s coming up.┬áThis time around is no different.

The reason I like to do this is that it forces me to be completely honest with myself (and any potential running partners) about where I am and where I’d like to be. Sometimes I’m overzealous, which can then backfire, so I’m trying to be as straightforward as possible. It just so happens that this time around is a bit painful to admit.

You see, this winter has not been kind to me (or anyone, really), and my running and training have both suffered from it. This is absolutely my own fault, I am aware, and that hurts. However, at this point there’s no reason to keep beating myself up about it (and I’ll make sure to come back and read that line the next time I’m feeling down).

This is the time when I have to be realistic. I had a goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon on April 6. My training is not where it should be to run that. It just isn’t. It sucks, but it’s ok. Grand plans in October end up distant dreams by March. It happens, and has happened before more than once. Pretty sure Ange and I swore off winter races during the Disney races (and then promptly agreed to another the day we both got home….because of course we did).

I feel like I can attribute a lot of my nonchalance about knocking this goal down to the Disney weekend. I had a lot of stress going into that one, and a lot of concern about having a horrible race and disappointing my running partner (despite countless reassurances that it would be fine). And then? It really was fine! Even though we stopped multiple times for pictures and walked a bunch and crossed the finish line at least an hour slower than either of us had ever done so before.

It was all ok.

Not running a sub-2 in four and a half weeks will be ok. Making sure I enjoy this race as well as stay healthy enough to keep running and be set for Ragnar is ok. Getting back into a habit (come on, warmer weather and Daylight Saving Time!) and enjoying the process is ok.

Completely scrapping my training plan and building a new one is ok. Actually, it’s better than ok. I’ll admit it. I love building training plans (calendars are where my Type A-ness is most readily apparent). Following them may be something I have struggled with for the last year, but man, building them certainly makes me happy.

It really will all be ok.

We Can Learn to Love Again

I’ve started this post quite a few times over the last week, but I’m still tongue-tied. Still hurting for people I’ve never met.

There are so many blog posts out there where people so very eloquently express, moreso than I could, just what the running community is feeling. This is OUR sport, and how DARE someone mess with that.

Friday was incredibly rough for me. It’s tough to face down the reality that a simple matter of geography could very easily have changed “them” to “us.” I’d have been at that race had I lived in Boston. GCB would have been called in to deal with that, had we lived in Boston.

That would have been us, had we lived in Boston.

All I could do Friday when I got home was cry into his shirt. It’s another jolt, forcing me to stare straight into the face of mortality, and the mostly unspoken and truly terrifying possibility of him not coming home to me.

And then? I feel overwhelmingly guilty. Guilty that I’m looking at this selfishly. Guilty that I’m not taking advantage of the fact that my city isn’t being attacked, that my legs are still there, that I can run whenever I want, yet I’m not doing so.

Last year in the midst of all the “I hate running yet I’m still training for junk” feelings, I recommitted to running more times than I can count. Promises to myself that I would dedicate my time, my energy, and my focus to getting better, being healthier, getting READY for those races ahead of me.

And look how well that worked out.

I feel like this time is different. This time I’m committing to remembering why I love this. To running for those who can’t. To doing this because I WANT to, because I can. To teaching myself, learning to love this again.

Training for Tough Mudder starts this week. There is no choice but to train for this one. It will not be possible to walk the last third because I didn’t train hard enough.

But I won’t take this for granted. I get to do this because I can, because I love it.

Because no one will keep runners from running.

Boston strong.

Run, Baby, Run

This morning I woke up to GCB’s alarm. This in and of itself isn’t so odd, but what is odd is that today was the GO! St Louis marathon.

That I didn’t run.

After he left for work, I got out of bed, walked across the living room, and opened the blinds. I stood there watching hundreds of people running in a race that just last year I was singing and chanting and in some points skipping my way through.

It’s the first half marathon in St Louis that I’ve missed since October. Of 2011.

The feeling was bittersweet.

You see, running and I have had a very tumultuous relationship for the past little while. Remember last August? I do. I HATED running at that point. And I hated that I hated it so much.

I’ve been a runner for the better part of my life. Hating it felt odd, alien.

A couple weeks ago I set out to take a walk through Forest Park. I haven’t really done a whole lot in the way of physical activity since the marathon, and it was one of the (rare) beautiful days we had earlier this “spring.” Once I got out there I realized I couldn’t just walk. I was tingling with the anticipation I normally got before a run I wanted to do.

WANTING to run again is one of the most beautiful feelings.

So I did what I normally do, turned on some music and went to set my watch timer, and was stopped dead in my tracks.

My watch still carries my marathon time.

I couldn’t erase it. That time, though maybe not what I intended on it being, means something to me. It means bull-headedness determination. It means doing something greater than I’ve ever done. It means dealing with an abhorrence of something that’s always been my solace and somehow pushing through it anyway. It means being so damn stubborn that quitting was just not an option, even if it meant hobbling eight miles through various Disney parks. I am more proud of that time now than I was the first month after I finished that race.

So I left the time where it was. And I ran.

Just because I felt like it.

I’d like to say that muscle memory and still being in decent shape helped me have an awesome run, but, well, people fall quite a bit when instead of working out, after work habits include eating columns of Oreos, watching too much TV, and gratuitous napping. It was a short run, punctuated by walking and side stitches and that pesky little voice in the back of my head that yells “DUDE, they’re watching you stop.”

And it was the most glorious run ever. Because I MISSED it. Because it reminded me of what I loved.

Because it reminded me that mile splits and sub-8 minute mile goals and being better than anyone out there is not the point. The point is to feel free, content, relaxed.

I don’t think I’ll time anymore runs.

The stress, anxiety, flashbacks to those horrible feelings are not worth it.

It’s finally spring. My running shoes are bright pink. Bright pink seems like a perfect color to paint this city with.

New apartment, new running locations (like the steps under the Arch), new attitude.

Feels good.

Thanks, Days 21 and 22

Day 21, Today I am thankful for new holiday traditions. I’m thankful for the time off to spend with GCB picking out an ornament for OUR tree this year. This year’s ornament is a little Sully and Boo figurine from Monsters Inc. I am thankful for being able to have the time to pick up some presents for our nieces and nephew, to set up the tree (yes, it’s before Thanksgiving, but we both had the time off), and to, for me at least, bask in just how incredible spending the holidays with him will be. I’m grateful to have presents already wrapped and under the tree, to have grand plans for the ones I have left to get.

Day 22, Today I am thankful for, phew, SO VERY MUCH. I’m a big ball of happy lately. In the past, this time of year was really difficult, for various reasons, but this year? Oh man. I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday on this absolute high, and that just seems to have carried over into this morning. It’s left me on the edge of these crazy, happy tears, which I know sounds ridiculous, but seriously, things are so good, and I haven’t ever been this happy.

I have THE most incredible family, one that has supported me nonstop. They might be crazy at times, but hell, aren’t we all crazy? My sisters, my brother, my in-laws (and pseudo-but-might-as-well-be-in-laws) are all amazing. Even though we don’t always see eye to eye, these are some of the most important people in my life. My aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents….there are so many of us, but seriously, we have more fun when we’re together than I think a lot of families do. I’m so lucky to be so close to them. My niece and nephews are the cutest kids on the face of the planet. And then my parents. Oh man. I’m lucky I still have them around. I’m lucky that I get to see them as often as I do. I’m BEYOND lucky to have a mom who has always been my support system, always wanted the best for me, always been in my corner. She’s pretty incredible.

I’m damn grateful for GCB’s family, for how accepting and welcoming they’ve been of me. I love that we get to spend today with his family, that they’re close enough to see on a regular basis.

My friends are for real second to none. Real life friends, online friends, old friends, new friends. I am so blessed to have maintained friendships from years and years ago, blessed to have been able to cultivate new friendships even past college when making friends isn’t as easy.

And most of all I’m grateful that I have GCB. To spend my days with, my nights with. To have him for holidays and birthdays, good days and bad days. To have him as my best friend and my favorite person. I’m grateful to feel so loved, every single day. To have someone who accepts and loves me for exactly who I am, someone who encourages me and motivates me and is my biggest cheerleader. Guys, I absolutely hit the jackpot when I found him. For that I am SO grateful.

And as an added bonus, plus all of this?

Mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes.

Happy Thanksgiving, you guys! I hope your days and holiday seasons are blessed and filled with as much joy as possible.

Thanks, Days 19 and 20

Day 19, Today I am thankful for two-day work weeks.

Day 20, Today I am thankful for GCB. Over the past few weeks, it seems like I’m watching relationships all over the place fall apart. And over the past few weeks, it has become even more clear how grateful I am to have him.

This is one of those topics that I could sit here and wax so nauseatingly poetic on, but I won’t. What I will say is that I’ve gotten to a point where I couldn’t even imagine my life without him.

My stomach light will always need his stomach light.

Thanks, Days 16-18

Day 16, Today I’m thankful for having friends in St Louis. At one point, I had very few friends here, but now that times have changed, now that people have moved back, it seems there are friends everywhere! That’s a pretty awesome feeling.

Day 17, Today I’m thankful for lazy, lazy Saturdays.

Day 18, Today I’m thankful for a Sunday where I haven’t made any plans, where I can actually wait for a few hours to go running until it warms up to the 60s. It’s going to be a beautiful day to run. At this point, I’ve got a 15 miles scheduled. Lying in bed last night, I realized that my scheduled 15-miler? Is actually 16 miles. I could reroute something, but meh, whatever. I’ll have to run that far soon enough anyway. I’m crazy apprehensive about running this far. Oh well, I’ll only have another 10 miles after that in January. Yikes!

Thanks, Days 14 and 15

Day 14, Today I am grateful for modern medicine. GCB has been sick this week, and I’m incredibly grateful for drugs (thank you acetaminophen and naproxen) that help bring his fever down and stop his aches. He has been adorably pitiful and has kept me up a few nights–to the point of waking up in the middle of the night, whining, “I JUST. CAN’T. SLEEP anymore,” then promptly rolling over and falling back to sleep–but it’s all been worth it to see and hear him feel better.

Day 15, Today I am grateful to be alive. I know that seems like both a cop-out as well as a repeat of the one I did on my birthday, but lately it’s been so very apparent that this whole living thing is awesome. I found out a few days ago that a former coworker of mine passed away recently. He was 31.

Thirty-one is young (despite what I tell GCB about his upcoming 30th birthday). Too young. Far too young to be found unresponsive on a cold Saturday morning in Michigan.

His death hasn’t come as quite the shock that Kelly’s did a couple years ago, but it’s still weird. One day they’re here, next day they’re not. Quick as that.

And yet I’m still here.

I’ve been thinking a lot about him, and thankfully there aren’t the questions this time that there were with Kelly. I’m not worrying if there was anything I could possibly have done to make the outcome different.

It’s odd. When Kelly died I found this FIRE in me to get out and live every single day to be fuller than ever. This time that intensity isn’t there. What IS there is a desire to not take for granted what I do have, even if those days and those moments aren’t necessarily parade-worthy.

Though my accidentally-slept-through-lifting-session-being-replaced-by-PB&J tonight is still somehow really awesome.

You love PB&J, don’t lie.

So I’m going to just enjoy it. I’m going to mentally prepare myself to run 15 miles on Sunday (!!!!!) and watch Project Runway All-Stars and eat my PB&J. And then when GCB gets home, I’m going to kiss him and hold onto him maybe a little longer than I would normally. Because I’m still here. And he’s still here.

And that, my friends, is so much to be grateful for.