There are only two ways to live your life. One as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle

storm

I don’t even know where to begin today. Lately my life is like a torpedo flying through the Bermuda triangle. I’ve been wanting to write a blog lately but as I try to spill my thoughts fifty incoherent sentences come vomiting out about twenty different topics.

 In twelve days I’m marrying the sweetest man I’ve ever met in my life. Every day I ask him if he’s sure he wants to marry me. I’m messy and flaky and, oh, so forgetful! He finally told me to stop doubting him. It was never him I doubted…but I’m trying. 

 In 34 days I will be toeing the line at Ironman Lake Placid.  To say I’ve lacked training this year is an understatement.  Compared to past years I’ve completed less than half of that training.  That terrifies me. But I’m working hard to do what I can. Over the weekend I ran 6 miles on Friday, cycled 96 miles on Saturday and ran 16 miles yesterday. It wasn’t easy. I’m slow but I’m still out there doing my thing. This year is not about anything except completing this race for the Ironman Foundation. Completing this race in memory of my dad. That still just doesn’t feel real. It still brings stinging tears. He was there at my race last year at Lake Placid.  I miss him terribly but I will carry him with me every step of the way. I will also be carrying the loved ones of some dear friends with me.  Yesterday when my run got really hard around 14 miles Geoffrey asked me why I’m doing this…reminding me that it’s not about MY pain or MY tired legs. Those are two things so many would gratefully carry. It’s about WHY I’m doing this. It’s about choosing to take the pain and to keep going, just doing it while helping people that need it.

  I constantly doubt myself.  Yesterday morning my body was so tired and fried I didn’t think there was ANY way  I could run 16 miles.  I did.  At an average 9:08 pace.   One step at a time, one mile at a time. Why can’t I just believe in myself, for, like a minute?????n I started to fall behind Geoffrey shortly in to our run. I was running about a 9:35 pace.  Then I decided that I did not ask him to wait to run so I could run a half mile behind him. I sucked it up and ran hard until I caught up to him. I decided I would try to stay with him until I had only a couple miles left and then I could slow down. Somewhere inside I knew that he wouldn’t let me fall behind again though.

  These things make me know that I’ve got the confidence somewhere inside me. I wouldn’t sign up for them if I thought I couldn’t do them, right? About 13 miles in yesterday I started to think that I AM strong. I AM the storm.  That goes and comes. But it’s in there, I think. Somewhere. I often read and post quotes, like the one in the picture at the beginning of this post, to gain strength from them.  Sometimes they do work. Oftentimes they do work. 

  Abby’s schedule is slowing down but Kielin’s is picking up. A side from his regular season baseball playoffs he recently made the all-star team. He doesn’t usually show a lot of emotion but this is something he wanted badly. When he made the team he said that he had always wanted to wear one of those white hats they wore and he was going to wear it every day. He now has several more practices and games and scrimmages all over Syracuse.  That means starting runs later in the afternoon or splitting the bike in two or getting up earlier. It doesn’t matter. He worked so hard for it, he believed in himself and he got it.  I’m proud to be there supporting him every step of the way. That will ALWAYS come first.

 I’ll be honest. I hate when Kielin pitches. He does great. But the pressure on these kids is tremendous.  Especially in these playoff games. He gets up there calm and collected and does his thing. I’m the one biting my fingernails. It’s not that I don’t believe in him- I very much do. It’s the pressure that I hate on top of him. He’s 9! But good or bad he handles it like he’s been doing it forever.  He did not get that from me, that’s for sure. One day he hit batter with a pitch. I was so upset for him and worried for the batter. The batter was okay and eventually walked to first base. Kielin walked over to him, apologized and shook his hand. That’s MY kid!!!! OMG! I was more proud in that moment that I can explain.

It’s amazing how much we can learn from our kids.  Maybe the world should stop and watch them. As much as we guide them…they seem to have the important things right before we teach them hate and anger.

 I love Kielin’s baseball games. One thing I do not love about them is the social piece. I’m not an overly social person when I do not know people. A lot of these mom’s have been friends for years and I definitely feel like the outsider. I’m a nice person. I try to be.  But when I first meet people I’m nervous and often awkward. I don’t really do small talk.  That makes it hard for me to make friends at events like kids’ baseball games.  I wish it wasn’t that way but it’s just how I am.  I often leave feeling bad about myself. I often feel like I have a sign over my head that says “weirdo”.  That’s probably accurate. But most of my friends did not come from these occasions. They are people who have seen me doing my thing and in more comfortable setting. You put me in something like running and I will chat to you until the sun goes down.  It’s just how I am I guess.  Geoff says I’m different that most mom’s. I know he means that in a good way but it’s hard to feel when you are the lone one there.  In the long run, though, it doesn’t matter. I try to be kind and real.  I have the best friends and family one can ask for.  I’m luckier than any one person deserves.

 Life is moving a mile a minute. Abby finishes school today and Kielin finishes tomorrow. Elliot graduates at the end of the week. Reilly is heading off to SUNY Geneseo in the fall to pursue a business degree.  Aria is off making a life for herself 90 minutes away.  Everything is changing. All good things. Scary things.  Exciting things. These kids are amazing but while life is so beautiful, the world is so cruel. I worry about them constantly and about what this life will throw at them.  But they are smart, wonderful kids and will take it in stride.  I’d just like to be able to protect them from the bad things but we all know that’s not how it works.  I just want the world to be a little gentler with my babies. Please.

 It broke my heart when Gabe Grunewald passed away earlier in the month. I admit that I never really followed her running. I first learned of her when she coached Chip Gaines through his first marathon last year.  I started then following her remarkable story. If you do not know who she was, look her up. She was diagnosed with a rare form of incurable cancer when she was in her 20’s.  She continued to run professionally for the past ten years with many amazing wins while dealing with many bouts of cancer. She ran through it all. She raised money and awareness for cancer research.  #Bravelikegabe became the slogan that was attached to everything she did and a guide for all who walk in her footsteps.  Gabe passed away June 11th but left so much inspiration. The two quotes I constantly saw on her page or posted to Instagram are ‘Being brave was not giving up on the things that make you feel alive’ and ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle’. Powerful messages  that put it all in perspective.   The little things can get me as they get everyone. Some days I just want to crawl in to bed and cry. But when I read about how Gabe lived such a hard life with such love and passion it makes me stop and find my gratitude for all I have. 

So, life is good. I mean, I’m marrying my best friend in the world soon. I FINALLY know what that means. To be marrying your best friend.  How can life not be good?  It’s chaos and exhausting and scary and exciting.  And wonderful.  And we are getting ready to have all the people we love the most here in just over a week. How can that NOT be wonderful? Everything else will work itself out.  

 Show up and never give up. One step at a time. One mile at a time.  Forget the doubts…even when they are screaming.  Find the little voice that has always been in there whispering that you can. Grab on to it.  It knows the way.

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Choose Joy

 

joy

 

I’ve had three races over the last three weekends.  That’s about the number of races I had each of the past two years.

Two years ago I loved racing. The bigger, the harder, the crazier…the better. But now?  I just feel mounds of anxiety. And I don’t know why. It’s not like I’m going to win. I don’t care about PR’s.  So, what’s my issue?  I’m not sure.

Two weeks ago I completed Ragnar Cape Cod. I was a fill in for a team who lost a member and until three days before I thought that I had 12-ish miles to run over 25 hours.  The entire team of 12 completes 200 miles from just south of Boston to the end of the Cape.  The team starts and someone is constantly running (even through the night) until we reach the finish line.  I read more closely and realized that I agreed to the Ragnar leg… a “hard” leg of 7.8 miles, a “hard” leg of 6.3 miles and a “very hard” leg (the Ragnar leg) of 12.6 miles. Um…okay. With a big training weekend before along with the Mountain Goat race (10 miles of hills) I was confidant I could do this.

I had a really fun weekend. I ran well, we had a great team and a really fun van of women who I’m happy to now call friends. You won’t often see me outside at 10:00 at night wearing a head lamp and a glowing purple vest dancing to P!nk.  That weekend I did. And I had fun. For just a few minutes I was able to let go- something I’m only usually able to do with those closest to me. I was grateful. 

That was also the latest I have ever run. I’ve never worn a head lamp before.  I’ve never worn a vest. I’ve never taken off running near 11pm.  I was nervous but there were so many teams out there that I was okay.  There were two little stretches where I was creeped out but I knew that there were people around so I just kept telling myself not to be a baby.  I also did something else I’ve never done before. I went live on Facebook for part of my run.  I’m not sure why I did but I figured I would give it a shot and it was pretty fun to feel people along with me. Later on that night we heard from our teammate Heidi that she was being held up because a person jumped out of the trees at a female runner and grabbed her.  Two other women running behind her took him down very quickly. I wish I knew who they were because they are truly badass! That freaked me out but knowing that everyone was helping each other out there made me feel better….and proud.

 We finished at the beach the next day with our entire team.  It was pretty awesome to see that these 12 women all of different abilities and backgrounds but each with her own obstacles came together and finished this thing. Everyone did her part. And it was great. 

 I can’t remember the conversation after the race but my friend Charlie, who brought me on the team, said something to the effect that I’m “badass and I like snacks but I also have the same fears and confidence issues as everyone else. And I can be in the deepest sleep but if someone mentions coffee I’m up and running to it”.  I don’t know about the badass part, as much as I want to be, but I’d agree with the rest of it. Spot on.

Last weekend was my biggest challenge so far this year. A reverse triathlon called the Rat Snake.  The Rat Snake is a reverse triathlon consisting of a 18K trail race with 1,400 feet of gain, a 31 mile bike with 2,500 feet of gain and most of it in the last 8 miles and a 26 yard swim(THIS I was excited for haha!).  I knew the trail run was going to be hard but I wasn’t too concerned with it. I was terrified about the bike. The website describes the bike as “Not for the faint of heart” and says that you very well “may cry”. Especially on the last nasty climb after having already climbed for 8 miles.

 I built this up so badly in my head that I was a wreck heading in to this race. When I get very nervous I go very slow. I can’t seem to help it. It’s a defense. I ran the trail run much slower than my ability.  But I chatted and met some really nice people.  Every time the bike leg came up those who had done it before said “yeah…it’s a bitch”. I was really hoping they’d say “It’s not as bad as you think” and no one did. Damn.

I realized on the trails that I’m not a trail runner. I don’t have the bounce and grace that trail runners have.  By the end of the first loop I was covered in dirt and had leaves sticking out of my shorts from a good wipeout I took.  No harm…just muddy and clumsy.   But still, the trail race was fun and so beautiful.

 Then came the bike. The first 15 miles I was such a head case that I wanted to call for someone to get me off the damn course. I was 100% I was not finishing this race and 1000% positive that I was NOT racing Lake Placid. But…I had no phone and I was at the race alone so I was SOL of being saved. I guess I just needed to save myself.  

At 15 miles I started to realize that I was doing okay and passing a lot of people.  At 20 miles I realized that I had less than 10 to go and you know what? I could walk the awful hills if I needed to.  At 25 miles? Get out of my way, I’m coming for you.

 I had my head in such a state that I forgot something very important: I’m  A GOOD CLIMBER.  Why did I forget this? Well, probably because I had not been outside on my bike a single time this year.  What I’m not good at is downhill. I passed everyone around me on the climbs and by the bottom of the hills I could hardly see them they went flying by me so fast.  I’m okay with that for my first outdoor ride.   I will be less of a baby on the down hills as I do more of them.

  I headed in to the huge climbs with the same group of people I had bee riding near for a while. Leapfrogging for many miles…I pass them on the way up and they passed me on the way down.   We slowly climbed the hills and encouraged each other. When we got to the huge final hill we kept saying okay…let’s make it to the big yellow sign before we get off and once we made it we’d say “let’s try for that little green sign”. It was great. And many were walking and we made it so close to the top of that hill. We got off and walked almost at the top.  We high fived and were really pleased with our hard work. We climbed back on our biked ready to coast downhill to the finish. We went down the hill and turned the corner. How wrong we were. There was a hill that looked straight up. I begged that our road turned off before this but no. This is what they were talking about when they said people cried.  My stomach dropped and I said every swear I knew. I even made a few up.  I saw at least 20 people pushing their bikes up the hill.  Not a single person riding.  I saw my friend Kat walking her bike up the hill. I thought to myself that if I rode it maybe I could finish with her.  Then my quads gave me a reality check and off the bike I got.  The hill as so steep that my bike cleats were slipping as I tried to walk up it.  But I finally got there. I got back on the bike and rode in to transition. 

I dropped my bike and helmet and ran in to the lake. I yelled at the kids in the boat to stop moving the buoy away from me, touched it and ran out of the water.  I was so happy to get to that finish line.  My friends who had finished cheered for me. I cleaned up my area, changed and went back to cheer for my friends who had not yet finished.  I grabbed some food, packed up my bags and bike and headed home. This time I decided to drive out the bike course to see it again and as I did I saw that several people were still on the hills. I encouraged everyone, offered water and told them how close they were.  And I was grateful to be done and to have held on to finish.

I don’t know why me head is getting me like this these days.  I don’t know why I can’t just be grateful to be there and know how lucky I am to have the ability…because I do know that I’m lucky.  I want to finish Lake Placid. I’m working hard and I believe that I can. I just need to figure out how to get my head in a better place. There will always be doubt and negative thoughts….but this constant tearing myself apart isn’t okay. Dreading the long rides, swims, runs…it’s just not okay. Why am I not enjoying the journey? Why am I not excited to feel the wind in my hair and the freedom of pedaling myself as slow or as fast as I want for hours?  WHY can’t I enjoy this???????  Why, as a 42 year old woman who has accomplished some cool things, can I not believe in myself for 1 second? 

 All that being said, I know this year has been extremely difficult. From losing my dad to breaking my ribs, there’s been a lot that’s completely knocked me off my ass. My world was thrown upside down and I still have days where it hurts so much I feel as though I’ve been punched in the gut.  But there are better days too and there is a lot of beautiful life to look forward to. And I’ve been the luckiest person in the world to have the parents I had and the family I have.  So I have no excuse. None.  I have the best kids, the most wonderful man, amazing family and friends who I hold dear. I also get to race this for the Ironman Foundation which is such a huge privilege.  And I have a body that will complete an ironman.

I have no reason to feel the way I do. 

I know that this is the pressure I put on myself.  I feel like I have to be a badass. It’s what the kids love. It’s who G loves. It’s what makes me good when I’m not so good at the little things like folding laundry.  And, somehow, somewhere the need to be “this person”…I lost my joy and my WHY. 

The other day I listened to Pinks new album and her song Circle Game just went straight to my heart. The lyrics….I just started to cry. I could not write my feelings more perfectly if I tried. These few lines sum up exactly where I’m at in life:

For all my hard talk, I’m still just a daddy’s girl
In this hard shell, there’s tiny cracks from a big world
And there’s still monsters in my closet and they want to come and play
There’s still sounds in the dark, I wish they’d go away
I know, I know, I know, I know, I’m a big girl now
I know, I know, I know, I know, I better work it out

I’ve got a little girl of my own and she looks at me
Like I’m a badass and you know that I wanna be
And now there’s monsters in her closet and they wanna come and play
And I start looking for my dad to come and make ’em go away
I know, I know, I know, I know that it’s my job now
I know, I know, I know, I know, I better work it out

 

So, my goal is joy.  Enjoying the journey and not just saying how blessed and lucky I am to be out there but FEELING IT. It won’t be easy. It won’t be pain free. There will probably be tears. There will probably be vomit haha. But there is no reason to not feel the joy along the way- not just after- because that’s what matters.  And I’m going to try my hardest to find it and hopefully, in the process, find a way to be a little more kind to myself. 

 

The good and the details

I find myself counting my blessings often these days. Every time I’m sad I remind myself to think of all the wonderful things in my life.  And I have so many.

My children…those of my blood and those who became mine though the heart.  There is no greater joy than seeing them happy, working hard, laughing, and living. There is no greater worry, also.  There is nothing worse than seeing their hearts ache and not being able to fix it.  It’s growing up and while I can’t fix it, I can give them comfort and safety that I knew from my parents.

For Geoffrey who has made my world a different place. Laughter, love, companionship and content.  I could ask no more than this.

My siblings. We’ve shared so much joy and so much heartache. And we have each others backs forever.

My friends who have become family.

My coworkers who are funny, helpful and so intelligent.  I enjoy these people and some of the remarkable projects we have shared through the years.  They epitomize what a team should be.

For being able to do these crazy things like Marathons and Ironman. For being able to be part of the organizations that do so much good such as the Ironman Foundation and the American Liver Foundation.  They gave me far more than I could ever give back but I’m proud and grateful for the opportunities.

For my dogs. They make me smile every day.  They are jerks and trouble and little storms of destruction but they have my heart. All they want is love…and usually my food. Again, they give far more than I could ever give them. Even when I’m in a crappy mood they just sit near (ON) me and look at me with those eyes. I adore them and would have my house full of littles if we could manage it.  But they are also messy. And did I mention they destroy everything? Two is good. 😊  Maybe three.

For my parents. While I still hurt every single day, I will never forget my unyielding gratitude for the time I shared with them, the gifts they gave me and the lessons they taught me.  I always feel my words just aren’t enough for the extraordinary people I got to call mom and dad.

I’ve been able to run some fun races lately and complete some good training.  My races and runs have been with my favorite people and  I found a lot of joy that I did not have for a long time. I’m starting to feel better about Lake Placid and if I can just stay steady I know I can do it.

I’m marrying my best friend in 8 weeks.  I wonder every day why he loves me like he does. How did I get so lucky?

I know I’ve shared the last few paragraphs many times. But I need to write is again….these are MY reminders to myself that while life is painful, it’s also SO good.  And it’s short.  We need to love and live while we have the chance.

I often find myself going to call my dad. About the new car issue. What we need to get the toilet fixed. About Kielin’s baseball game.  For his advice or to tell him about funny things the dogs did. And every time it’s like a brand new gut punch.  And that will go on for a long time. Forever, maybe.  I find it hard to concentrate these days.  Normally I love putting on headphones and writing code or debugging issues at work. Lately, though?  My mind struggles to focus. Too many thoughts swarming my mind.  But I’m trying. I’m showing up. It will all come back. And I’m doing okay. They kids are doing okay.  Everyone is doing okay. It’s hard but as always, the base was built for us in every way to live good, happy lives and we are all trying to follow in their foot steps while trying to figure out our own paths.

Last night at Kielin’s spring concert they sang a song that had me in tears. The song was For Good and I believe it is from the show Wicked:

 

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…

 

And that’s the best way I can think of to put it.  Life moves forward.  And I will carry them with me while living my best life.

This moves me into my other thought while thinking about living my best life and what I’m not doing well: Paying attention to details. Ugh.

 

I’m not very good at paying attention to details. That sentence is an understatement.   I’m sure some are laughing or rolling eyes at me right now.

I recently had two very clear instances recently where I should have paid better attention.

The first is that Kielin decided he wanted to sign up for an instrument. He chose the Viola.  I said SURE! I thought a viola was like a fiddle. Smaller and quieter than a violin. We are all signed up and ready to play!

I didn’t pay attention to the fact that a viola is bigger and louder.  Oh boy…..

The other instance I’m going to pay for not looking closely. My friend Charlie asked me to fill in a leg for her Ragnar team this weekend. I said sure as I have always wanted to try one.

I looked at the leg and saw 12 miles -very hard. I figured that I ran Mountain Goat so how hard could it be?  And I also figured that I would need to add in a couple more miles here or there for IM Lake Placid training.  When looking online two days ago I did not see any 12 mile full legs that were very hard. Then I saw something that made my stomach flip. I messaged Charlie asking what leg I had. She confirmed what had me laughing myself sick. My LAST leg was a very hard 12 miles. I have 26.4 miles total. Oh boy! Luckily I’ve really ramped up my training and feel good about this but nervous as well. I just keep reminding myself of all the snacks all weekend…totally worth 26.4 miles of running.

So, I guess living my best life means I need to pay attention better. I can’t even say with a straight face that I will because it’s just not in me. But I will work hard and do my best to live by example and teach my children to live with gratitude and happiness and humor too.   I wish them a life of adventure, love, working hard and so much laughter.

I wish it for you too.

Where did it go

It’s been a really tough year for a number of reasons.  I’m trying really hard not to do the “poor me” thing. I’m trying to keep showing up.  Lately it’s road block after road block. I keep saying “Okay, if I really start training consistently now I will be fine.” And then something else happens. Here’s the thing: Most of this is out of my control. They say if you want it you will make time, you will. The thing is, I’m trying.

I AM showing up. I am trying to put I the work.  My head is fighting me. My body is fighting me.  Life is fighting me right now.

 After a long day at the expo Saturday I got on the bike to ride for three hours and fifteen minutes.  By the second hour I felt terrible.  I kept wondering if it was walking around all day that caused it. I hung on for 2 ½ hours barely pushing watts at the end.  I ate and went to bed. A few hours later I woke up violently throwing up with the stomach bug the kids had earlier in the week. No run for me on Sunday.  In fact, I’m still feeling queasy and nauseous 5 days later. But I’ve been trying anyways.

 Mentally I have no motivation. No passion.  Right now I’m finding it hard to get up and do the long workouts (and the short ones) and the only reason I am is because I committed to it. I try to remember that this race is important as it is for the Ironman Foundation and it’s a big deal to race for such an important group. It means so much more to give back.  I still can’t find the passion.

 I think of my dad. I cry. I try to think of how hard he worked and how I will carry him with me. But I still can’t find the passion to bike or run or swim with any type of desire. Every workout is just counting minutes until I’m done. Until I can just get it over with.

 I think about all my amazing friends who will be at Lake Placid this year. I WANT to race with them. Badly. Yet, still, nowhere. Nothing.

This really isn’t me.  I’ve had my moments (many, especially at the side of the road on the bike haha) but I always loved this stuff.  But I can’t find it. And the training is getting bigger and longer and I’m scared I don’t have it in me and I will let everyone down. That’s a pretty terrible feeling.

I don’t want to let anyone down.  Not the team I committed to. Not anyone who looks to me for guidance or support. Not Geoffrey. I never want to disappoint my kids, ever. And myself.  I don’t want to let myself down because I won’t forgive myself.

But right now, I’m struggling. 

All I can do is keep showing up. There’s a lot I can’t control.  I hope every day that at some point the joy and fun will come back.

Until then, I’m trying to control what I can and keep showing up.

How do I do this?

55529943_2349574221727609_2477052461605453824_oI don’t even know where to begin.  I have so much to say and to write it would take days.

 

I was never a writer growing up.  I wrote code…not blogs. When I was a junior at Boston College the head of our Computer Science department was tired of CS majors not knowing how to communicate. This led to the department requiring us to write papers along with each coding assignment. While painful at the time it forced me to learn to write which I’m very grateful for now. Writing has become a cathartic necessity in my life.  If I can help or inspire someone else along the way then I will keep putting it out there.

 

I sat down to write about my dad this morning. The day after the funeral is the hardest day.  Everyone goes back to life and I want to scream that this can’t be it. Stop and give him a few more days….please.  But that’s not how it goes.  As much as we grab on….life goes on.

  I’m exhausted and I don’t want to re-write his eulogy. My brother, sisters and I spent hours and hours writing his eulogy.  My brother did a wonderful job delivering it at the funeral yesterday.  I wasn’t going to cry. I had read it at least 25 times and I was prepared not to cry.  Then my brother gave an introduction I was not prepared to hear.  I cried the hardest I have cried all week.   My dad went in to the emergency room in Jupiter, Florida on March 8th.  He was air flighted to Massachusetts General Hospital on March 25th.   He passed away March 27th, less than a week ago.  The introduction that my brother shared was that although my dad was in the hospital for several weeks, many states away, he never spent a single day alone.  All six of us were down there at some point and one of us was always there.  My brother shared his gratitude for that in his introduction. I cried. I cried because of my gratitude as well.  I cried because it was the LEAST we could do for the man that gave us everything.  I cried because he deserved that and much, much more.  That funny quote about siblings “I will give you a kidney but you cannot use my phone charger” is so very true for us. We will bicker over little things but when it matters there is no question. No one hesitated, no one faltered.  Everyone offered to put aside their crazy hectic lives and just go and be there whenever needed, at any time. I cried because I felt that gratitude also. The gratitude knowing that it doesn’t matter what is going on.  My sisters and brother will be there when needed. Period.  In this day and age when too many are about “not fighting other people’s battles” this is so rare. They have my gratitude, friendship and love. Always. They also know, I hope, that I will be there when it matters.  

  It’s just too hard to write out every feeling and every story about my dad that I want to share. There are too many and I don’t know how to get them out.   I thought that maybe I’d just share one or two in my blogs going forward.

I have so many memories from the past week. I’m not sure what will just turn in to a blur and what will stay in my mind. However, there is one moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life.  My dad’s 11 grandsons were the pallbearers at his funeral and burial.  From 9 years old to 27 years old.  One of the most beautiful, telling moments I have ever seen was of these 11 boys carrying their grandfather’s casket out of church. Tears running down their cheeks.  I have no words for the beauty, respect, sadness and love at that moment.  That moment was worth a thousand words and I will never, ever forget it.

 

DadKbaseball

This hit my kids really hard.  For a long time my dad was the man in their life. We lived with him for a couple years and his presence meant the world to them. From the day they were born he was the constant in their life always there supporting them- from swim meets to baseball games to school concerts and science fairs.  He was always there and they knew it.  Kielin was the only grandchild who had not heard the eulogy before the funeral.  At 9 years old I’m not sure how often he actually pays attention to anything adults say. But yesterday during the eulogy he giggled multiple times at “grampy time”, driving around the goats and grampy’s bad driving. 7809_10200854153372632_756599592_n

  While extremely quiet and sad, Abby did share two stories that not only brought tears but fits of laughter to us both.  The first is when Abby and my dad drove up to New Hampshire to my sister’s house in the mountains.  At that age Abby was quite the talker. In fact, she never stopped.  Apparently grampy had all the talking he could handle on a 3 hour car drive.  He gave Abby a very important job for the rest of the trip. He asked that she count all the signs until they made their way to North Conway. Abby did her job diligently. And quietly. And she didn’t realize what her “job” really was until recently.

  The other story I was aware of and I realize that it may come across a little harsh but found it too funny not to share.  Abby not only talked a lot but as she talked and became more and more excited she also came closer and closer to you until she was about an inch in front of your face.  All. The. Time.  When we went out to a restaurant Kielin always sat in the booth with me as he needed the help. That meant Abby and my dad sat together. That meant Abby in his face. A lot.  One day my dad took a knife ( just a butter knife!!) and put it on the seat in the booth between them. He said “That’s your side and this is my side. Don’t cross the knife.”  And he did that every time we went out for years then on! “Stay on your side of the knife”. It worked 😊

  So many people said to me that he held on until he knew I was okay. I truly believe that.  He was so truly happy that Geoffrey and I were engaged in January.  We were able to spend a week with him in February and he was able to really spend more than a day or two with Geoffrey. I knew that he saw how kind, giving and supportive G is. I knew he saw how wonderful this man is to me. I knew he was sure that I would be okay.   We planned our wedding in July hoping my dad would be there.  The hardest part is knowing he won’t. Everyone says he will be there and I know that. But I had this hope of him and Kielin holding my hands. Just in a different way now, I guess. 

  During the past few weeks I just can’t express what having Geoffrey in my life means.  I picked up and flew to Florida and he just said “Go”. He helped me find flights. He took care of the kids and I never once had to worry about them being cared for. He held me and supported me and picked up all the pieces where they fell. He stood quietly by my side and was my comfort and strength. He also met about 200 family members and friends in about 24 hours and is still asking me names trying to remember them all.  He has been my rock and my strength and my dad was right.  I will be okay. 

  When my mom passed away, almost 10 years ago, my dad went from Dad to my friend and confidant. For each of us.  He was a force and someone not to mess with. Even getting yelled at by him in the hospital three weeks ago put me in to tears (I wanted him to stand and he wouldn’t without PT being present). Yet in the last 10 years he was the warmth comfort that my mom had always been.  He knew we needed it and so he did it. Again, for each of us.  He did his absolute best to not only be dad and grandpa but also carry on our mom’s roles and traditions as well. 270081_2172615311429_2815216_n

  I have written often about the liver transplant my father received 17 years ago. Until the day he died his liver was strong.  I don’t know how to express my gratitude to the donor and his care givers at Mass General  for the years of life he was gifted. There aren’t words to express gratitude to the family of the donor giving life in their time of grief. How do you put that in to words?  And the doctors… They are extraordinary.   I’d like to find a way to thank them one day as they work tirelessly saving lives in the hardest circumstances.  While down in Florida all my dad wanted to do was come home. He was desperate to be home. Back in Boston with his team of doctors at Mass General. Back in the city he loved where his loved ones could all visit him.   We were finally, through enormous efforts of my sisters, able to get him up to Boston last Monday.  He was so happy to be home. He just kept saying how wonderful everyone at Mess General was as soon as he got there. Speaking on the phone that day, he was the best he sounded in all his weeks being in the hospital. He was home.  While he passed later that night because of a pulmonary embolism, we knew that he was home and to him, that meant everything.  He came home.

I haven’t trained all week except for a run with Geoffrey on Sunday. He pushed me out the door and I’m grateful for that as I was able to feel the warm sun on my face.  I’m extremely concerned that I will not be able to finish Lake Placid Ironman at the end of July. Maybe it just doesn’t matter. But I committed and that always mattered to my dad.  You keep your commitments.  So, I will continue on and do my best, no matter what happens.  Not in spite of everything that has happened but because of it. My dad was a man of excellence. While I don’t know that I could ever reach his level in anything, I do know that I can give the same effort and heart. I will do that and carry him with me. Hopefully, all the way to the finish line.

Death brings out the best and worst in people.  You definitely learn who your friends are in times like this.  I was really sad that some people did not show up to the wake or funeral.  I know each of us felt that way about certain people in our lives and I think it’s pretty normal.  I mean, I feel like my dad and I put our heart and soul in to supporting some groups that meant a lot to us and when not a single person showed up from those “families” I was heartbroken. To me, he deserved that respect.

  Instead of being upset I’m just going to learn.  Because the support was overwhelming.  To much good to let anything else tinge that. We did not know what to expect at the wake and to have standing room only for hours was just the ultimate tribute to this extraordinary man and I just don’t have the words. People came from childhood friends, current friends, coworkers- ours and his, to people that we grew up with and haven’t seen in 20 years. Coming to pay respects or those from far away sending love in ways of flowers, donations, meals, texts, phone calls, etc.  So many people supported us…so many people I never expected and I am (we are) eternally thankful to everyone.

 So, it’s just no worth being upset over those who let you down. Just learn.  Learn who the ones are who care and going forward I will know where to put my time and effort.  And there are so, so many. 

So, I thank you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there for me and my family.  It truly means the world to me.  And be ready for more stories. Many more. 56220357_2349573825060982_5424691974298927104_o.jpg

Keep Showing Up

I started to write a blog several times but I can’t seem to find the words lately. To say this season has not gone as planned is an understatement.  I’ve been lucky in years past. While I certainly had my share of bang ups and mishaps, I, for the most part, never stopped any training. This year was not the same. I’ve been losing training all over the place due to injury and, well, life.  I never really completely stopped training except for the first week when I broke my ribs.  I just re-routed.  I spent a lot of time on the bike when my hip and ribs were not in good shape. I spent a lot of time running when I was travelling.  Not much time swimming anywhere in there.  I’m back at it now so hopefully I will keep some consistency with it for the next few months.

I’m pretty used to a big training schedule. I’m pretty used to doing what I need to get it done. I work hard.  Wake up at 4:30? Okay.  Cycle all day Saturday? Done.   So when I can’t train – or train to the level that I want-  I start to panic.  Part of it is the fear of not being ready for the event and the other part is the fear of losing control.   Here’s my admission: I’m a clumsy, messy, flaky control freak. I bet that’s not really a surprise to anyone who really knows me.

In the past years I toed the line at a lot of different races.  Eleven marathons. Four half Ironmans. Two full Ironmans.  I don’t even know the number of other shorter races of all kinds. Some went amazing like my 3:35 marathon at Lehigh Valley. Some went not so great like my tire issues at IM Lake Placid.  Some went horrible like the Boston marathon bombings.  But they all went.  And there are many, many memories and lessons from all of them.  I went through my list of races from the past years:

 

April 2013- Boston Marathon. DNF due to the bombings

May 2013- Pittsburgh marathon- 4:27

October 2013- Bay state Marathon 4:05

April 2014- Boston Marathon 3:58

October 2014- Marine Corps Marathon 3:50

January 2015- Disney Marathon 3:40:52

April 2015- Boston Marathon   3:42

June 2015- Derry Marathon, Ireland, 3:51

September 2015- Lehigh Valley Marathon 3:35

April 2016- Boston Marathon 3:44

August 2016- Timberman half ironman 6:05

September 2016 – Lehigh Valley Marathon – dropped out at 13 miles

June 2017 – Patriot 70.3 Half Ironman 5:41

July 217 Musselman Double Mussel Sprint Saturday, half Ironman Sunday 6:00

August 2017- Ironman Mont Tremblant 14:29

July 2018-Syracuse 70.3 Half Ironman 6:12

July 2018- Ironman Lake Placid 14:39

 

What’s funny to me now is that my finishing times often do not match my memories of the races. I mean, yes, I was thrilled that I qualified for Boston. That was one of my best races. I put my heart in to training for that and after many very close misses I finally held on and did it. That’s why that matters so much. Because I never quit even when I wanted to and I held on. The clearest memory from that day is hugging my sister at the finish line, crying, exhausted and relieved. But  I don’t, in most cases, consider a victory or failure with how well I did timewise.  My fastest half ironman was Patriot 70.3 back in 2017. But that was by far my least favorite half I raced. The race was, well, boring.  It felt like just another training day.  Ironman Mont Tremblant was a great day. And not so good. The swim was straight out 1.2 miles and straight back. Yikes. But I can’t even remember most of the swim.  I hardly remember any of the long, slow bike. What do I remember? I remember seeing the kids at 13 miles of the run feeling overjoyed and telling them I would see them at the finish. I remember seeing Geoffrey for the first time that day at about mile three on the run and having tears of happiness.  I remember feeling absolutely awful about mile twenty one of the marathon but then seeing Peter coming towards me wearing his “cape” (heat blanket). I thought nothing could make me feel better in that moment but then Peter came flying towards me on the out and back as superman (literally, arms out doing airplane ) and I burst out laughing.  And that moment helped and I won’t forget it.

Then there was the century ride where I fell three times on the same hill. Then I was so mad at Geoffrey for leaving me (he had no idea I got stuck back there) that I caused an argument (which is now hysterical). We went back and forth on the bikes leap frogging arguing. I was so dead set on proving a point that I skipped the water stop at 50 miles in 90+ degree heat to get ahead of him. That was not one of my smartest moments.  At one point he told me to “put on my big girl pants” – the now famous moment where I think everyone decided that he was, indeed, the man for me.  And the moment where G put the wrong size tube on his tire and the whole thing popped when filled. He sat there looking stunned before throwing it across the field. I remember laughing silly on our way home recalling the stories to Peter.

I don’t remember the terrible rain and winds at Ironman Lake Placid last year on the bike. I mean, I remember them…but they aren’t my emotions about the race. I know I had a horrible time from my bike flats through the first loop of the run.  But those aren’t my feelings about the race either.  I remember the high of finishing the swim and knew it was my best swim ever. I remember hugging G on the run and him giving me his watch. I remember as soon as we said goodbye that my friend, Eric,  who I had met on the course a few weeks earlier just happened to be running by. I remember being overwhelmed by the community supporting the race. I remember the joy of getting to turn right to enter the finishing circle and I remember hugging and giving high five’s to my loved ones as I ran around the circle.  I remember being jealous that G was eating fries and pizza and my nausea wouldn’t allow me to get anything down.  I remember waking up at 3am and eating half the pizza that was on the counter.

I don’t remember the bike crash at all 3 weeks before Mont Tremblant. I do remember the ambulance and my sister and brother in law showing up to drive me home.  I remember deciding that no matter how bad it was that I was going out to run the next day. I was bloody, bruised and sore but I ran 16 miles.  I remember finishing that 16 miles not knowing how I got through it.

I remember missing my BQ at Disney by less than a minute and the text from my coach saying that I would not let 52 seconds break me.

I remember my all-time favorite race, Timberman half ironman. The first race where I wasn’t sure I could finish because I had never swam or biked that far all together in a day. It was the first long race where something could go wrong that was completely out of my control – flat tire or something worse- but none of that happened that day. I remember being almost near the finish of the bike thinking to myself “Hell yeah, I’m doing a full ironman!”.  I remember kissing G on the run course. I remember being about a half mile from the finish line and crying because I could hear the music and announcer and knew I would get there and finish.

I love that these are the things I remember and cherish.  There were so many ups and downs and we never knew what was going to happen. We worked our asses off to get there and we showed up. We always showed up. And the training days and races were all epic in their own way.

This all reminded me of a blog that Peter wrote. It’s probably my favorite blog he ever wrote. You can read it here:

http://www.crushingpavement.com/2017/07/we-refuse-to-surrender.html?fbclid=IwAR1_l4Zan0EbH6VscRnPM8HOvLpogqVv_SPsB_2sMtVVuoF534JYubFrMs0

 

I don’t love this blog because it’s dedicated to us. I love it because it reminds me that we were brave. We were strong. We fought through bad days, horrible days, aches, pains, and sometimes even blood. We were scared. At least I was, no doubt. We did it anyways. We hoped for that “great day” but had no idea what kind of day it would be.  We put our goggles on, tied our shoes and filled our water bottles.  We crawled in to bed beaten down at the end of a long day only to get up the next day and do it again.

Why? Why do I insist on putting myself through this?  I don’t know. I can say that I crave it. I crave the challenge. I crave feeling strong.  I need this strength in my life to handle everything else.  Even at the hospital last week while visiting my dad my sister sent me out to run a few times because it was clear I needed it.  I need it.  I crave being better.

I have a lot of fear in life. I worry about everything from my loved ones to money to training to cleaning and everything in between. But all of these things I’ve done, they help. They remind me that I always showed up. I never backed down. If I failed, I came back. Good days, bad days, big scary races or whatever it may have been. I showed up.  And that’s the key to it all. To races, to life, to good things. Keep showing up. Keep being brave. Fight through the bad, enjoy the good. Love fiercely because we could lose it all tomorrow. Remind ourselves that it will pass.  And when it’s said and done it probably (hopefully) won’t be the race times, money or possessions that we remember and cherish. It will be the moments. The funny ones. The sad ones. The ones where we bonded with another soul.  The moments where our children look at us with pride. The moments where we look at them with pride. The smiles, the tears, the love.

Just keep showing up. Always.

Walking Disaster

struggle

 

I haven’t been writing that much lately because I haven’t had much positive to say. I’ve been struggling with some hip issues, roof issues, holiday craziness, etc. But I have been training steadily for about a month it was going well.

I feel…… old. I feel like a walking disaster that couldn’t stay out of harm’s way if it were lit up with green, flashing, fluorescent lights.  I feel like it’s  always “Meghan AGAIN. What THIS time?”.  I’m on a yoyo between thinking my body is amazing and wondering if it is giving out.   Some of my recent runs and bike rides have been excellent. Other days, well,  it hurts to tie my shoes.

Friday morning I was walking Kielin to school and brought along the dogs. We dropped Kielin off at school and were on our .25 mile walk home. A woman walking a little dog was walking towards us. I knew Belle and Lionel would get excited so I stepped to the side of the sidewalk to let her pass.  As usual, they started jumping towards the little dog.  They pulled me and I slipped on the ice and my feet came out from under me. Because I was holding their leashes and they were pulling the other way, I had no way to break my fall.  I landed on my left side directly on my elbow.  The second I hit the pavement I heard the cracks. So did the other woman walking the little dog.  I knew immediately I had broken ribs.

There I am laying on the ice covered sidewalk, crying.  There were a few people that came over. I had let go of the leashes when I fell and I was immediately worried about the dogs. In between sobs I kept telling the woman that the dogs are friendly, just jumpy.  Belle was yapping at the little dog and Lionel seemed to sense danger. So what did he do? He came over and sat on TOP of me to protect me. So it’s 15 degrees out, I’m laying on the ground, crying, my 45 pound black lab sitting on top of me and several people there trying to pull him off.  They did, they tried to call 911 but I refused.  We eventually got home.

Long-er story short, Geoffrey came home from work and we spent the rest of the day in the ER.  Friday and Saturday were rough days taking a lot of pain medicine and trying to find comfort.  I kept telling people I was taking Zoloft and Valium.  SMH.  No one said anything. Either they weren’t surprised or they knew what I meant.  I was taking Vicodin and Zofran.  I can’t even take pain killers without throwing up- the Zofran was stopping that. But still…I suspect some think I needed the Zoloft and Valium haha.

Sunday morning I tried to sit up and felt and heard a big pop. Immediately after that I started to get the most horrible, painful muscle spasms in my rib cage. I can’t explain how painful they are.  It’s a surge of pain that’s squeezing already cracked bone and it brings me to my knees every time. I wound up back in the doctors Monday  where they told me I most likely tore cartilage. No scans or anything to confirm, just that I presented classic symptoms of the pop and spasms.

So, needless to say, it’s been a long painful five days.

I tried to write a blog last night but halfway through I decided it was too whiney and negative and deleted it. Actually, it wasn’t too far off  the above paragraphs. Oops. BUT…….

What I also realized last night was that I’m getting a little better every day since Monday.  I decided to grab on to that.  Even in times of struggle there are positives.  I do not have to be happy right now but I can still show gratitude for what I do have:

I’m grateful for a man who has taken care of me, our family and our dogs in every way since I’ve been hurt. He’s cleaned, cooked, shoveled, fed….you name it, he’s done it.  Without me asking or saying a word. All he has said is “What can I do to help you?”  even though I know he’s exhausted.  He’s love me in ways I never knew were possible.

I’m grateful for kids that, on normal days are “kids”, but when things are a little harder they volunteer, ask and help with no questions asked.  I’m grateful that they’ve cared so much how I was feeling and for a little boy that snuck in to my room at 5am  and laid at the foot of my bed just to make sure I was okay.

I’m grateful for a family that will drop everything to make sure I got the help I needed. There is always an ear to listen when I needed to cry and flowers that showed up to brighten my day.

I’m grateful for friends who make me laugh. Even when it hurts like hell and I had tears running down my face…the laughter mattered. And for amazing, wonderful  friends who let me vent over and over and over again. Who are so compassionate and kind even when I’m sick of listening to myself.

I’m grateful that I’m feeling better every day. I can walk around easily and do a lot of things now that I could not do two days ago.

I’m grateful that this happened in January and not July. I’m grateful that I still have time to train for Lake Placid. I’ve been asking and asking when I can get back to training and no one will give me an answer. Even then, I know I will do what I can and I will get there. Maybe not in the way I planned but I will get there.

I’m grateful that my loved ones are healthy and able to do the things they want and love.

I’m grateful for a happy family, a warm, loving home, good food and to live in a community that we love.

I’m grateful for a job with the best coworkers who work hard and laugh a lot.

I’m grateful for dogs who are a pain in the ass but just when you’re ready to scream they come over for a cuddle.

When I read this list…I smile. Yeah, things aren’t perfect. Nothing is perfect. It if were, we wouldn’t appreciate when it was good. But I have a damn good life and I’ve worked hard to build it. A few hard weeks is not going to ruin that.

This is just a little roadblock. I will look back on this at the end of July and smile remembering the road this year took and that I was stronger than those struggles.

 

Now, if I could just get those spasms to stop…all would be okay 🙂