These Times

matter      We are living in a really tough time.   No one has the answers but everyone has an opinion.  We are all experts in nothing.

It’s been a crazy time in the Brown house as well. We planned out construction to begin in early March.  We planned all the floors to be done, the living room, all the bedrooms and the kitchen. We planned for our roof to be done in April or May. We planned to have our fence put in when the weather was good enough to put the posts in the ground.  And then the outside of our house was planned to be painted. We had planned this at the end of the year last year and there was plenty of space between jobs to make sure they all got done and gave us some time to recover. But it was okay because everyone would be either in school or at work.  It would be a little painful for me but I’d lock myself in a room all day or go to a coffee shop and work if it was to loud.

The best laid plans. We all know that saying.

Well, now that everything is opening back up, all the contractors want to come at the same time. And the last thing I want to do is to be put at the end of their lists.

Shit show. My house is a giant shit show.   Geoffrey and the older boys went back to work. So that leaves me, 3 dogs, two kids and a giant construction site. We can’t go to a coffee shop. We can’t pack up and go to my fathers as his house is now on the market.  We are here in 1 or 2 rooms all….day….long. I keep telling myself I will be worth it. And I know it will be but….gah! I hope I make it to that time before cracking! But it WILL all be worth it.

On top of the covid pandemic that we are all experiencing, we now find ourselves in the middle of the biggest civil rights movement in history.  There is so much emotion, sadness and misunderstanding on all sides. It is really heartbreaking.  I truly believe the world could be a much better place if we could stop and just try to listen to everyone’s point of view.  But people won’t and we are stuck.

I worry. I worry all the time. I do not want to hurt people. In fact, I’ve stayed silent for so long because I was always afraid of saying the wrong thing. I was afraid of hurting people. I was afraid of losing people. I was scared. I am STILL scared. But I’m talking now and I will not stop.

I haven’t always tried. I was a shitty teenager that I’m ashamed of.  In my twenties and early thirties I was so consumed with my own drama and dancing on eggshells that I didn’t even pay much attention to anything outside of myself.  These days I’m trying. I’m in a place where I can open my heart and see all that I walked right by for so many years. I’m not giving myself any kudos, trust me. I offend people all the time. I hurt people I love without ever meaning to in any way.  But I’m trying. Every day I’m trying and I hope that makes the difference.

I always believed in civil rights.  I always thought I was doing the right thing. I’m pretty sure at some point I said “all lives matter” and believed it. I thought because I was nice and liked everyone that I was doing right and wasn’t racist. I wasn’t racist.  But I was not helping anything, either. What I was actually doing was shoving it off as “not my problem” because I was kind to everyone. So, I was supporting a broken system and therefore contributing to it. I was appalled at some of the events I’d seen in the past. Most people I knew were also appalled. I condemned it and wanted justice to be served. And I thought I was doing my part. I have black friends that I adore. I have friends of all colors, backgrounds, sexual orientations and religions. How could I be doing something wrong?

It took me until I was 42 to snap when I learned of a young man who was murdered while he was out for a run. Ahmaud Arbery was a young black man who was out on a run and was followed, hit by their car (which only came out today), cornered, shot and murdered by a retired police detective, his son and his friend.

He was out running. Running. To be healthy. A runner. But I go for runs all the time and don’t feel danger. Especially in the morning or day time. How can this be? And I saw the video and then I lost it.  HE WAS OUT RUNNING. I was angry. More than angry.  Elliot goes out for runs all the time and never once did I fear that he would not return home. I cannot imagine being scared when my son goes for a run.  I can’t.  I cried. My heart ached for Ahmaud’s mother. I was angry that he was murdered. I was angry these men were not arrested. I was opening my eyes. Finally.

Then George Floyd was murdered. I could not stomach the video. I read a quote which said that when George Floyd called for his mother all mothers were summoned. With tears in my eyes, YES.

No more. I will no longer be scared of people being angry with me.  If I have to lose people then I have to lose people. This matters. This matters and when I grow old If I cannot look my children and grand children in the eyes and say I stepped up when it mattered….then what good am I at all?

I’d like to make something really clear. I’m not against the police. I think MANY officers are good people. I have huge gratitude for those officers that put themselves on the line…that ran in to the twin towers….that protect lives every day.  This is not about being against police.  What I am against is this:

The violence.  The bad cops. The code that keeps other police from speaking out against it. The systematic prejudice that has existed for hundreds of years. The old boys club. The silence when bad things are done.  I know some awesome police. And I’ve known some bad ones.  My first job out of college was working for a company that wrote public safety software. Police, prisons, fire departments, etc.  My area was prison and police software. This meant that that I was constantly surrounded by current and former police officers and prison guards.  I saw things and heard things  that were not okay. I was twenty two years old and I was in my first real job.  I was incredibly naïve and thought everyone was good and that I would recognize the bad guys.  Well, without going in to detail a retired police officer was completely inappropriate to me.  When I returned to my office after the work trip my coworkers were talking about who I was working with down in Florida. They mentioned this cop and laughed about him being a dirty old cop. They knew. They knew the things he did and laughed about it. They knew and sent me, a 22 year old kid down there to spend a week working with him.  That was my first experience in reality. With how people can be and with the old boys club. That’s the first time I saw police protecting bad behavior.

I’m not anti-police. No way. In fact, the police at the two protests that I have been to have been wonderful. They are supportive of change and understand it.  I’m still shocked at the things I’m seeing today. A 75 year old man was knocked down in Buffalo while at a protest. Should the man have been arrested? Was he breaking the law? Was he a known pain in the ass activist? I do not know the answers to those questions and I do not care. He was 75 years old and probably 140 pounds. They have many, many other alternatives the to knock him down. And then lie about it on record.

Why is the “all lives matter” so offensive? It, in itself, is not offensive. ALL LIVES DO MATTER!!! Except that “All Lives Matter” was created in a way to wash over the issues we need to talk about. All lives matter. We all know that. But until we treat each other as all lives matter…they don’t. I’ve seen a very good meme shared explaining it talking about houses: P1: All houses matter. P2: Yes, but that house over there is on fire.  Do all houses still matter? P1: Yes, of course but that house right there needs our attention right now. And that’s it. The black community cannot do this alone. They are hurting and in danger and need our help.  White privilege does not mean that we haven’t had hard lives or been treated unfairly.  Not at all. It simply means that we are not judged simply for the color of our skin.  We can go for a run whenever we want and not worry about our safety.

I’ve been to two protests this week. The first protests I have ever been to. I was nervous. I was really nervous.   I had absolutely no idea what to expect.  I saw riots and violence. I also saw many peaceful protests. I could tell very quickly that they would be peaceful The organizers were incredibly well spoken, organized and ready to work for a peaceful change. I was so proud of my communities. THIS is what we need. I love my community and feel honored to share it with so many awesome people.

I haven’t lost many friends. I’ve had difficult conversations. I have people that stay silent. I have people that just avoid the topic with me. I don’t know how to handle it all either. All I know is that I need to be sure that no one is unsure of exactly how I feel.  I need to be able to tell my children that I tried in the ways I knew how. I need to tell them I did things wrong and listened and changed and helped to make the world a better place.  At the end of the day, I NEED to be able to say all of this. Black Lives Matter.

Finding Some Good in Strange Times

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I used to be so good about writing blogs.  I didn’t realize that the last time I wrote one was in November. I believe this is the longest I’ve gone and I can’t even remember how to start this!   I would definitely say that’s because I lost my motivation and fell out of love with endurance training. Well, the truth is that I fell out of love with it more than a year ago but I had commitments to keep. Those commitments, while mentally were some of the hardest I ever went through,  have been some amazing blessings in my life.  I already wrote about IM Lake Placid, Wineglass Marathon  and my very first ultra (NYRR 60K last November) and how much they mean to me for all different reasons.

This year I had only really planned two races: Mont Tremblant 70.3 and the Anchor Down 12 hour ultra in August. MT was cancelled, no news on AD yet.  I expect it will be cancelled but who knows?

The start of this pandemic was a tough time for me. I was pretty sick for a while. I had many of the Covid symptoms but I didn’t know what to do. At one point I got a lot better and then much worse a couple days later.  Sounds familiar, right? By this point I had been to the doctor twice and Abby and Kielin had gone in twice. We were all tested for strep and the flu- all negative. Luckily the kids cases were mild and they cleared up after a few days.  I finally had a video conference with the doctor and she said I needed to be tested. She sent me to Ithaca and the process was far easier than I expected. The test isn’t fun but it’s so quick that it’s really nothing to worry about.

A few days later I found out that my test was negative. Another few days later, after another doctor appointment,  I found out I had pneumonia. Coincidence, right? Who knows. It’s suspicious and I guess we might never know.  During those weeks I was forced to slow down and rest. I had a pretty big project going on at work but luckily I could curl up under blankets and work on it.

I consider myself pretty blessed to come out of that and feel as good as I do these days. I don’t know if I had coronavirus but I know I was sick and many people with the virus had terrible outcomes.  I slowly got back into running because….well, that’s what I do. I felt pretty lost.  I ran my miles every day and did my crossfit a few times a week.  I was easily angry. I did not understand WHY people would not listen to the people who devoted their lives to research and understand what we are dealing with.  I unfriended anyone who protested or supported them. I was sad and angry and scared.

Then a few things happened that changed the game. First, the virtual races started. Between the Ironman VR series and the virtual- several month long -races ( Across Tennessee and the New York one) I finally found some motivation.  Needing to average 5-6 miles a day got me moving.  I got back on my bike after many months. I suffered but I enjoyed it. I continued my crossfit and I started to find myself in a different place.

A short time ago the Ironman Foundation came out with their plan for a 24/7 Ride for Relief. The IMF was already doing some amazing things to support communities in this time such as turning unused race t-shirts (from all the cancelled races) in to masks and distributing them around the country. They planned a  week long charity ride where at least one cyclist would be riding at all times for a week straight.  Even many pro’s were joining!  I was IN IN IN. I immediately signed up for 6 slots and got my fundraising page together. I tagged my friends to join the ride and was ready to go!

Why do I love the IMF? Where do I begin.  Most know I joined the IMF to race Lake Placid Last year. Why? Because I was so blown away by how the race communities came out and supported us in the most amazing ways.  The volunteers were incredible. The aid stations were run by a lot of local groups and they were there with big parties helping us all day and night.  In Mont Tremblant, I will never forget the middle school band that played on the run course. All night. For us.  The volunteer who offered me the jacket off her back.  The volunteers running up to us in Lake Placid with pretzels, chips, gu, water, coke and it goes on and on.  And they would do anything to make us smile. To take us out of our dark patches. There was a woman at Syracuse 70.3 two years ago who was at least 8 months pregnant out in the 90+ degrees asking US if she could help us. Amazing, unbelievable people. And I wanted to give back and let them know what a difference they made.

Raising money for the IMF was a wonderful experience. The day before the race we had a group breakfast. Mike Reilly was there (the Voice of Ironman). Matt Russell (the Pro who WON the IM the next day!) was there.  The IMF members and our team was there. And we all shared our stories and we were all crying by the end.  I still keep in touch with so many of those people and I am grateful to know them.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been involved with several charities now.  I loved racing with their teams. I love all the good they do. There are so many that have these huge places in my heart. So many team members who I completely adore.  But with the IMF, it’s different. I truly feel like everyone there puts their heart and soul into giving back and doing good. That gets me.  It completely gets me.  When a community that we raced in has tough times or kids that need camps or a disaster, the IMF is there helping. Grants, supplies, service projects, partnering with other companies and organizations. And more, so much more.

So, when I saw the Ride for Relief?

You bet your ass I was in.

I was not sure how the fundraising would go. After last year and after everyone donated so much (talk about grateful and blown away!) helping me reach over $5,000 for my fundraising for Lake Placid, I was worried about asking in these times. So many are struggling right now.  But I figured I was really fortunate and if I put my money where my mouth was hopefully a few could help.   I can’t remember if I learned about the burpee challenge from the Facebook group or from a Webinar. I wasn’t sure how it would go but I wanted to try something different. Everyone knows I run and cycle a lot. So while the ride slots were great, I knew no one would see that as suffering.  So, even though a little nervous, I decided to give the burpee-thon a go. Well. Crap. I never knew how much my friends wanted to see me suffer!!! I am now at 1,100 burpees. The serious side of me is terrified. The sick side of me is SO excited and pushing for more!!!

All sides of me….especially the sappy sentimental side is beyond grateful at the support everyone has shown me and this foundation during this time.  Seriously, these are scary times and no one knows what’s to come. To give right now is incredible. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

My goal was to help and make a positive change. But this has changed me. I’m not sad like I was. I’m not finding myself angry.  I’m overwhelmed with the support I’ve received and I’m in awe of my team and all they are doing to give back. I’ve found motivation again. I’m excited!!!!  I’ve started to dream about Lake Placid again. Who knows what will happen but maybe I will get back there next year and maybe third times a charm?

On the Ride for Relief we have a zoom call where the cyclists meet those who rode before them and hand off to the next riders.  Well, I had no idea when I signed up for my slot on Tuesday that Tim O’Donnell rides after me. Tim is the top American Pro triathlete in the world.   You may remember him as the husband who tripped over the cord and unplugged his wife’s (Miranda Carfrea, another top pro triathlete) trainer and ended the race she was in. Well, I am beyond excited.  And, I hope we get to chat and I hope that I do not do anything in Meghan style, ie. falling off my bike. Indoors, which I have done before. Twice. In five minutes. 🙂  I certainly hope not but we all know that’s not impossible!

Who knows what will happen in the coming months and years.  All I know is that I’ve somehow found a way in this really tough time to surround myself (virtually and in my family here with me ) with amazing people who do really good things. People who I admire. People who make me want to be a better person.  I don’t know how but for whatever reason I’m surrounded by so many. And I’m forever grateful. Thank you. ❤

Thank you.

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I’ve tried a few times to sit down and write a blog about gratitude.  After all, it is Thanksgiving on Thursday. This year has been the biggest roller coaster year of my life from extreme highs and extreme lows.

So, I wanted to take some time to share my gratitude for what I have in my life.

  • I’m grateful for my children.  These five keep me up at night worrying and at times they make steam come out of my ears.  But they are the ones that make life worth living. Their accomplishments. Their joys. Their struggles. Their heartbreak. I wouldn’t miss any of it. I’m beyond blessed to call them mine.
  • This year I had one of the best days of my life marrying my best friend.  I’ve never met a kinder, sweeter, lovelier man. I’ve never met a man so hard on himself.  I’ve never met a man before who makes me light up just by walking in to the room. We laugh. We cry. We support. We annoy. We love. Dearly. This is how it is supposed to be. I’m blessed and unable to express what this love means. Forever grateful.
  • My parents.  I miss them more than I can ever express in words.  I cannot write this without tears. I miss them every damn day.  The gratitude I have for these two people who showed me unconditional love, support, kindness, humor and grace.  Everything I do I wonder to myself if it would make them proud. I sure hope so.  It will be so hard to not see my father this year. It’s been 8 months tomorrow since he left this earth. He is missed every day by all of us.  There’s no denying he lives on through everything we do.  Just yesterday I bought some Ferrarro Roche chocolates because Kielin was giggling the other day reminding me of how grampy hid these on us and we only found out about them when we saw him secretly chewing. I miss them and my fondness and gratitude grow every day for the foundation and love they gave all of us their entire lives.
  • My siblings. Heartache can bring people together or it can tear them apart.  I’m blessed that they each carry my parent’s grace, kindness and humor. We can laugh together and cry together and know that each other understands the pain.  We all have a bit of my mom’s sense of humor (somewhat dirty for a little Irish Catholic woman) and we share so many laughs often. There is never  doubt that they would be there when needed and that we will figure it all out.   I’ve written about this before but I always think about how my father was in the hospital down in Florida for many weeks. They all have families and live in the northeast.  Yet, between us, my father never spent a single day alone. That says a lot about who they are. The best.
  • My friends who became family. Old and new.  Unconditional Love. Constant support.  Laughs until our eyes burn from the tears and our weak abs ache.  Sad tears. Anger at jerks who did them wrong.  Memes.  Ass Faces. People who I know have my back no matter what. Tribe. 
  • My dogs. These 3. They wake me up several times a night. They have accidents. They break…no, destroy things.  And they comfort me and make me laugh every day. Their distinct personalities and love are amazing to watch.  They always make me smile no matter what is going on.  Kisses. A tummy scratch.  Or just then purposely brushing against you when they walk by.  I never realized three little souls could have such an impact on my life. On the lives of everyone in this house.
  • All the opportunities I had this year.  It may not have gone to plan but it sure was an adventure and I’m grateful for that. An Ironman, a marathon and my first Ultra.  Slower and more painful but I still got there. And I would never have gotten there without the support and love of my community. I don’t know how I landed where I did but I’m blessed and grateful and I will always try to pay it forward in any way I can.
  • Lastly, for good health, a good job, good food (often too much!), and a warm loving place to call home.  I cannot ask for more. 

 

So, you see, I have much to be thankful for.   Even the lows brought out some beautiful moments that I will never forget.

To my children. To my husband. My parents, wherever you are.  My siblings. My friends.  My community. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. No one person deserves this many blessings. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones. I hope you run a Turkey Trot, each too much and laugh until you cry.  You deserve nothing less.  God bless.

New York Road Runners 60K November 17th, 2019

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I know there are a lot of really upbeat, always motivating and really positive blogs out there.  They are great- I love and follow many of them.  And I know why people write them that way.  To me, though, I like to try to keep it real.  Marathons and Ironmans and ultras are hard. Period. There are good days and bad days. There are great moments and terrible moments- a lot of them- and they often occur in the same race. I think it’s important that people know the struggles and the obstacles we have to pull through to finish. People often say “You’re amazing” and things as such. I’m not.  And it matters to me that they see I struggle just like everyone else.

 

I don’t really know how to get my feelings out.  This year has been a very different year for me for racing and training.

 

After Lake Placid, I decided that my year wasn’t over and I wanted a new challenge.  I found the NYRR 60K and figured it was perfect for me. I have wanted to run an ultra but was nervous about the trails for my first as I’m clumsy and I tend to trip a lot.  This one wasn’t on a trail. This one was 9 loops of Central Park in New York City. This lit a fire in me. I have always wanted to run in New York City.  I have never been in Central Park before. I’ve driven by it but never been in it.  This race was perfect.

People thought I was crazy. “9 loops????” “Central Park is HILLY!”  “That sounds terrible!”.   But not to me. I couldn’t wait.

After Lake Placid I trained for the Wineglass Marathon. I didn’t have a full training cycle. I didn’t even have half a training cycle. But Geoffrey helped me get prepared to the best of my ability. Based on training and some faster runs we thought I had a 3:50-ish in me.  I didn’t care too much about a 3:50 though, I just wanted to break  4 hours for my first stand alone marathon in 3+ years.  I went out with the 4 hour pacer and stayed  right in front of them until the halfway mark where I stopped at the bathroom.  They went ahead and I lost a little steam.

When you run a marathon, you should see a somewhat steady increase in your heart rate across the race. My heat rate at Wineglass?  Flat. What does this mean? It means I pulled back my effort pretty good in the second half of the race. I don’t know why. My only conclusion was that I was afraid to bonk and fall apart.  I went very conservative and finished fine with a 4:05. Nothing great. Not good, not terrible. Fine. And I was happy enough.  Not impressed with myself but okay for this race.

 

I can honestly say that the 60K was the only race I was fully prepared for this year. I built off the marathon and really had some great training runs. Even more than that…I loved it.  Geoffrey started saying that I’m built for ultra’s and I started to think he is right.  For the first time in a long time, I was really enjoying nearly all of my training. I was maintaining steady paces and still feeling strong in high miles.  I was happy and I was excited.  Two weeks ago I had a 32 mile training run.  I ran 15 miles alone and then G and Aria joined me for the Red Baron Half Marathon.  I finished the 32 miles at a 10:18 pace and I was so thrilled. I even ran 2,100+ feet of elevation that day. This was the day after a 10 mile run and a big week of training. I felt so ready.  The two weeks of taper were incredibly stressful for several different reasons.  Some being a few large projects at work and the other being, well,…..teenagers.  Teenagers. Well, that’s a whole other blog post for another day. And most of you know that stress already.

Fast forward to this weekend. I was up full of beans at 5am Saturday morning. New York City day!!!!!! We were already packed so we pretty easily made it out the door by 7am (that’s kind of a miracle for us hahaha). We arrived at the city around 11. First thing we did was head over to the NYRR run center to pick up my bib. Man, that place is cool! A lot like the Adidas Boston run base but about ten times bigger.  It was a mixture of store, group classes, headquarters and museum. I would have loved to have more time there.

I got my bib and headed to out hotel to leave our car and bags.  We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in Midtown. A great location.  We spent the afternoon walking around Rockefeller Center, Times Square and all the sights around there.  We had reservations at a good Italian restaurant but when the kids saw the Hardrock Café and  loved it, we decided to eat there instead.  We saw the New Year’s ball, M&M World, Hershey World, the Broadway theaters and every other store/sight in between.

We headed back to the hotel to rest. Later we headed to Serendipity for dessert.  Serendipity is a famous little restaurant  known for it’s frozen hot chocolate and outrageous desserts.  It was so worth it. Unfortunately, by this time, I was getting the sore throat, headache and neck ache that hits me when I’m getting a cold. I ignored it.

We went back to the hotel and after I set all my gear out I was asleep by 9:00. I was out. I woke up at 5am and headed to the café in the hotel for coffee. I definitely wasn’t feeling hot and I was 100% ignoring it.  When I went in to get coffee there was a group of about 8 people in there sitting at a table. They were probably about 30 years old and they had about ten bottles of booze on the table.  They had been there all night. They were singing and laughing and having a grand old time. I smiled…I was most definitely not jealous but I did remember was it was like to be able to have nights like that in my twenties.  I grabbed my coffee and headed back to our room. I did not eat breakfast.  It’s the first time I didn’t eat breakfast before a race or long run. But I didn’t feel well ad couldn’t eat.  I knew I’d have to get food in me but I couldn’t yet.

I was struggling deciding what to wear because the weather was supposed to get up to 40 but at the beginning it was  below freezing with real feel in the teens. I brought everything I had and headed out.  I left everyone sleeping because it was too long and cold for them to be out there. I expected to see them sometime in the second half of the race.  I jumped in to the taxi and after passing all the super upscale stores on 5th ave we were there.

This race was sold out with 500 runners.  I really enjoyed how this was set up and all the volunteers were terrific.  The NYRR know how to do it, that is clear.   I was in awe of Central Park. I’ve heard so may stories through my life. It was beautiful! So clean and crews and police pretty much always in sight.

The first loop was a longer loop at 5.1 miles.  This loop I tried so hard to get my head right. I really enjoyed seeing everything and hearing all the chatting and excited runners.  I will say that I felt old. The average runner must have been 39 years old and I hear many conversations about being out too late the night before. Ha….so not my life. But everyone was really friendly and pleasant to chat to.

I was trying hard to ignore the fact that my body wasn’t happy. I kept telling myself “You know it takes several miles for you to warm up. Just give it time.” It was cold. Really cold.  On the first half of the loop I would sweat because we had a tail wind and I felt comfortable. When we turned around I froze my tail off in the headwind.   I kept reminding myself that it was supposed to get warmer soon, trying to keep my head right.   But man, my toes and fingers hurt.  I tried to turn on my music but my headphones would not work.  I realized that it was not my phone but that they seemed not to work when many others were around with the same kind. A Pairing issue I guess.

After the first lap I stopped for the bathroom and to get my food bag.  I grabbed a peanut butter and jelly Uncrustable to ate it. Okay, I thought, now I have energy. Soon, I would feel it.

On the second loop I started to panic. I felt lousy. I was struggling. My neck hurt. And the thing really getting in my head…I feel lousy and I still have 30+ miles to run. I started to get very, very down.  I completely panicked.  I was angry too. I trained damn hard and I wanted one damn race to go my way.  But that’s not how life goes. We all know that.  I continued to run, feeling very sorry for myself.  I was messing up my planned walk breaks now pretty badly. I was panicked and cold.  My first laps look slow but they weren’t.  A few bathroom stops. After lap 3, similar to lap two, I stopped to get my food bag. Except they misplaced it and couldn’t find it for a few minutes.  They found it and I took more fuel in. This was about mile 13.  I kept telling myself that after the next loop I would see my family.  So, out on another loop I went.

The loops were a blessing. I was able to look at one loop at a time instead of all the miles I had to go. Central Park was so beautiful and full of runners and cyclists and dogs and just so much to see that the loops were not at all an issue. A side from my body and mind not cooperating, I knew how lucky I was to be there. Every once in a while I would take in the buildings and excitement and it took me away from myself for a bit.  After I finished the next loop and hit mile 17 my family still was not there. Truthfully, I did not expect them to be. It was still early and not out plan. But I hope they would be.  This was the lowest point of the race for me. I felt terrible. Achy and headache and sore neck. I couldn’t take anything and risk kidney issues. I’m glad my family was not there because I think I would have asked them to take me home.  That was how poor I felt.  I decided that since they weren’t there I had to keep moving so, just one more loop wouldn’t kill me. I shuffled on slower and slower.

Then, around 18 miles came a something I desperately needed. Two years ago while on a training weekend at Lake Placid I met Eric. We were both in the Ironman Lake Placid training group and after running together for a bit realized we were both in that group.  He was so supportive and great to chat to.  We met up during the Ironman that year on the course. We stayed in touch and met again during the ironman this year.  He knew I was running this and mentioned he would be out getting some miles. Well, around my mile 18 there he is.  I could have cried I was so happy to see a familiar face.  He ran with me for probably about two miles and we chatted the entire time. My times dropped back down to 9:30’s. I was out of my own head for a while.  He split off to head home and I just couldn’t tell him how happy I was for his company.

Somewhere in here I got lapped a third time by Mike Wardian.  Mike is a world class Ultra runner.  One of the best. If you are going to get lapped…it feels a lot better if it is by him. But the third time he lapped me his speed was gone. He slowed down big time. He didn’t look good.   But he was on his last lap so I didn’t feel too bad for him.

After the next loop I was at twenty one miles. My family wasn’t there yet and I was cold. I was disappointed in how the race was going for me and really wanting to see G and the kids. But I knew they’d be there the next loop so on I went.  By this time I was leap frogging with so many familiar faces from earlier in the race.  I started running with a friendly man and we started chatting.  He ran a 3:40 at Berlin this year and he paced a 1:45 half marathon two weeks earlier. He was a vey good runner but struggling as I was.  We chatted for the entire loop and it was great.  He had so many cool experiences and it was really nice just to shuffle along and chat.  I’m grateful for his support as he truly helped lighten my burden.  At the end of this loop I saw some familiar faces…they were here!!!! I hugged everyone and smiled like I was having a great race. More on that later.  G said he would run the following loop with me. Just one more loop to complete on my own.  I caught back up to Dmitry and we shuffled on.  For the next 4 miles each of us slowed at parts but we always seemed to end up back together.

At the end of that loop G cam out and ran with me.  At the beginning of this race I learned that this is the only NYRR race where they allow pacers so we were good.  I was so happy to have him there.  Dmitry ran ahead of us for a while.  But then he fell back and told us to go on.  I was running. I was shocked at how slow I was running. But I was running.   I was in a better mood by this point.  There was end in sight.  It didn’t matter how bad I hurt. I talked to everyone who had supported us all day- there were so many.  I kept running.  I gave the cat on Cat Hill the finger. Side note: does anyone know why that cat is there?

I hugged the kids one more time and told them I would see them at the finish.  We shuffled on.  G kept telling me to pick up my feet.  By this time my feet hurt so damn bad.  I realized that Kinvara’s were probably not the right shoe for this distance, going forward.

G thought I was crazy for wanting to run this race. But he loved running in Central Park and he understood why I wanted to after he saw it.  We, after what seemed like the longest two miles of my life, finally got within sight of the finish. I made G say out loud that I never had to run again.  I smiled at that.   Then we got to the finish.

The finish was different. More low key just runners thankful it was done. And more than half the field still out there running with more loops to go.  We waited a couple minutes for Dmitry to finish and then headed off to the car to make our way home.

Getting in to that warm car was one of the best feelings in the world.

So, I guess this is the year of just surviving races.  Just not quitting. And that’s okay.  Two things I did do right: I stuck it out and I did not let the kids see me fall apart. I realized a long time ago that they worry about me in races. They enjoy it so much more if I’m happy. So, I decided to be happy in front of them. No matter what.  They both said that this year is the best I’ve looked in races.  They have no idea that it was only for them. But I will continue to do that for them.

I learned a lot yesterday.  I learned that ultra’s are a more relaxed environment because they need to be.  Because the times of the runners are so far apart and it’s SO hard so a relaxed environment helps everyone get through the distance. I learned that I have a lot to learn. Shoes, clothing, fueling….it’s all different and I think some changes there will help me a lot.  I learned that little things can change the game. Maybe I can’t control how my body is feeling that day but there are still ways to get through it.

I felt really down since the race. I just felt like it was another poor race by me this year and that I couldn’t do what I trained for and did so many other days.  I felt that I disappointed people I cared about.  I ended up having to take a sick day yesterday and still feel crappy in my head today but my legs feel completely fine.  I know I wasn’t at 100% but I was disappointed because I felt that this was MY race. Even though every one of us knows that is not how life works. I know that.  I just felt a little pathetic. I mean, how many times can you say “Oh, yay, I didn’t quit even though I was nowhere near what I wanted to do”. Not poor me. Just wondering if I just need to change things. Not set the bar high. Maybe I’m just not who I thought I was.

I’ve felt better after seeing a few things. Mike Warding bonked hard at 26 miles. That’s why he was running so slow (I mean, not MY slow but his slow haha) when I saw him the last time.  He had a big lead but bonked and ended up in third place.  I also saw that of the 30+ in my age group that started, 22 finished and I came in 6th.   So after seeing those, I did feel better.  I do not consider those to be excuses for the day but just maybe that I was a little too hard on myself.  I work hard so I was disappointed.  But that’s part of the game and if I cant handle that there were be those races…stretches and sometimes even longer like that then I shouldn’t be racing.  So I’m working on all of that.

My friend, Hope, asked for me to put some live feeds on Facebook and I agreed.  The supportive messages I saw popping up on my watch were wonderful and helped me so much. Thank you to everyone that sent me a message or commented.

I will say this. That race was excellent. I will definitely be back. It was well run and the support was great. There were a lot of people who stood out there cheering all day in the freezing cold.  I hugged a lot of them on my last loop. I don’t know if one should be hugging strangers in Central Park but I felt like I knew them after seeing them all day long 😊  The race itself is one to put on the list. It was the only cheap thing in NYC ($45) with awesome swag- a shirt, belt buckle and a backpack.  More importantly, it was just a great race.  I wish my report reflected that better because it was.  I’m definitely planning on being there again and next time I’m going to kick it’s butt.

I’m so grateful to my family. They always support my crazy adventures even though they can be long and cold and unpleasant.  I am the luckiest person in the world to have this wonderful family behind me.  And I’m incredibly grateful to Geoffrey for training me to get here.  Even on my worst day I was trained to be able to finish this.  Not everyone has access to that and I’m beyond grateful.

All in all, not a great day for my body. But I hung in there.  And if this is the year of not killing it but “not quitting” then so be it. There’s a lot to learn in that alone because that monster can be a really big one.

Wanting to Matter

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Everyone wants to matter. Everyone wants to be important.  Each person has his or her own interpretation of what that means but we still all want it.

 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. We all want to feel like we matter. What does that mean? For many that means feeling loved by one. Some by a few. Others desire the love of many.  For some it means a high profile career.  The “title” or climbing that ladder or being a rock star.  Or by providing a certain lifestyle for their family.  Some want to do it in big ways on the world stage while others want it from their families and or friends.  Some of us haven’t even figured it out at all yet. I believe that everyone wants it but it’s how that differs in each of us.

I don’t think we consciously know that’s what we are looking for all the time but we can often look back and see why we made the choices we did.

I’m not good at a lot. I’m pathetic at many of the normal day to day things that others so easily do without a second thought.  I will never be an organized person no matter how hard I try.  Even when I try extremely hard my organization is pitiful.  I’m forgetful, clumsy, scattered and always trying to pull things together.  I try to never let it affect others but it often does. I try to contain my mess of clothes and cords and shoes to my side of the bed. I try to be organized for the kids’ school. Their activities.  But even then it happens way more often than I’d like. Way more often.

When a slip up occurs I’m very hard on myself. If I can’t be a good mom or good wife then what’s the point? Those are the people that matter to me and I need to be better for them.  I really try, especially for them.  But when I’m cooking a pancake and my mind starts worrying about whether I sent the work email and then the next thing you know the smoke alarms are beeping.  This is my life.

I work from home so it’s pretty easy for me to throw laundry in when needed. I often offer to do it for others. Geoff does not have me do his laundry. I offer. And I offer. But,  for one, I lose socks. All. The. Time.  I cannot even figure this out. Where the hell do they go? I watch like a hawk but there is always at least one missing sock. Bedroom….washer….dryer…back to bedroom….yet, a damn sock is GONE! I seriously just don’t know. And when I have folded the clean clothes the piles looks more like a 4 year old folded them with a blindfold on. I don’t blame G for not wanting my “help”.

A side from getting in to shape I do think this is why I got in to endurance sports.  If I can’t do simple things well then maybe I can do hard things well. If my kids have to wear mismatching socks at least they can still know their mom is an Ironman? For my ever ending list of faults I do believe I have one saving quality that I can count on: I do not quit.  For good or bad, that’s what I have. tears

I want to. Most days.  I want to stay in my comfy clothes. I want to relax and not hurt during running speed work. But I do it and I keep doing it. And I set goals that are big – checking again and again to making sure I won’t quit. Testing myself I guess.

But here’s the thing. Those big goals? They only seem impressive until I hit it. Then I realize anyone could do it. And they can.  But not quitting is required and the longer and harder they get the easier quitting gets.  So I keep on trying and making sure I refuse to quit. There are many reasons for those goals, not just to test myself. I love the challenge. I love being exhausted from good, hard work.  I love trying new things that are hard.  I love that they bring out passion in me to be better. I love trying to show my kids that there are good ways to feel good and help others. Every day when I wat to quit I remind myself of all the reasons why I cannot.  But there’s an even bigger reason.

I LOVE chocolate.

😃 I’m kidding. I do love chocolate but we all know I’d eat it anyways.

I learned long ago that we can use our passions to give back.  I started to realize this: I will never win a big race. I’m not elite.  I’m inconsistent.  But I show up and I can do my best and use my passions to leave the world, hopefully, a little better.  Isn’t that why we are here? Isn’t that why we should be here? Oh, yay me, right?!?! Noooo. I’m the first to tell you that I have a very competitive streak in me.  And it kills me to be so lousy at crossfit.  I do always want to win. I do think about tripping the woman in my age group that just passed me (just kidding!!!). I do get a bad attitude when things go wrong (but often find ways to pull myself out of it).  But I can also give back. I can make other things and other people matter.  This is not yay me. This is just me finding a way to do what others do more simply.  I want the world to be better. I often feel really low about the world today and how terrible everyone is to each other. I know I’m not the only one who feels this.  All I can do is try to take actions and show our children what it means to make it better in SOME way.  The funny thing is that I’ve gained more from giving back then I ever realized was possible. People say it all the time but you don’t really know what that means until you experience it.  It’s seeing that mattering isn’t always about us but by how we make others feel. It’s seeing that being important is not by a title or a number of friends but by helping some that will never know your name or what you look like.

I can do more and I will.  There are ideas I have about not just raising funds but being more involved and bringing all of our kids to get involved as well. I’ve tried to make these things matter.  And by trying to make them matter then maybe my lack of laundry folding skills matter a little less.  Maybe the piles of clothes by my bed make me not such a slob if I can help raise the funds to give grants to scientists trying to save lives. Maybe the corner that isn’t dusted as often as it should be matters a little less because I was able to help a stranger finish a tough race. I don’t know. It probably doesn’t change a thing.  I’m still an unorganized slob. That’s the truth.

I want to matter too. There is nothing worse than feeling like you don’t matter.  I want to matter to my family and my loved ones.  I guess I don’t care if I’m known as scattered, unorganized and flaky as long as I’m also remembered as loving, supportive and one who would never, ever quit. Neve quitting at things that matter whether it be standing by my loved ones or finishing a terrible race where I committed to raising needed funds to help communities.  I’d be okay with that.  I’m going to try to keep working towards it.

I will still try to be better organized as well but…you know. Walmart sells socks so…we won’t go without.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting back in the ring

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Well, it’s early Thursday morning on race week.  I’m running Wineglass marathon on Sunday- my first stand alone marathon in 3.5 years. The last full marathon I ran was Boston in April 2016 where I ran a 3:42 and was extremely disappointed with my result. Sunday I’d be thrilled with a 3:58! Who knows. But you know what? I’m putting myself back in the ring. It’s not always easy but we have one life, we need to make the best of it. So, RUN the damn race! Get your ass kicked and live to tell the tale. Then? Go back and do it better with what you learned. 

 While the marathon is a race I’ve run many times, this is like a new beginning. First, I’ve only been training for about 6 weeks.  While I do have an endurance base, I have no speed base. Because Geoffrey was concerned about my recovering from Lake Placid, my speed work only started a few weeks ago. Yes, I said Geoffrey. My coach. 😊  I never had G coach me before because he’s a running coach, not a tri coach. I had an awesome tri coach for years who helped me achieve some awesome things (and probably wanted to hit his head on the wall in frustration at many other times).  But I’ve decided to head back to running for the next year and I just so happen to be married to a kick ass handsome coach. Am I concerned with my husband coaching me? No. Remember, he’s the one that told me to put on my big girl pants after crashing and arguing on the Keuka Century ride. He knows how to get me going. And even if I don’t like a workout and complain, he knows I will do it.

 Why does it feel so different now? Mentally it is a very different race.  In Ironman you shuffle along. Slowly. You stop at the aid stations and get cups of water, Gatorade, Coke, chicken broth. You eat snacks. Potato chips, pretzels, and anything else that looks good at the moment. You chat to the volunteers. Then you move on your way to the next aid station. In marathons you don’t stop. You drink on the run. Eat your Gu’s on the run. You don’t stop. Mentally they are totally different beasts.  In ironman, when you hit the wall, your entire body hits the wall. It’s complete exhaustion with nausea and hard to keep your shoulders up. It’s pretty damn rough. It’s not if it will hit you, but when. In the marathon it’s pain. But pain, if handled properly, that is manageable until the finish.

 What I was concerned about this cycle was training by heart rate. Now, G has several athletes who are training by HR and are KILLING it.  G reads and reads and reads and does all the work. He knows his stuff. So, I knew this would be a big change for me.  When I commit to something, I’m in. You know I’m going to give it my best shot and do what is asked of me.  HR training has not been easy. Instead of training at 8 minute miles I now train in zone 2 at 9+ minute miles. “Run slow to get faster”. I have sworn at that quote in my head many times. I don’t look at my pace. I’m constantly having to slow myself down.  This, of course, sets off my anxiety. I’m so slow! How will I run faster at the race! I’m getting slower and slower!   I often complain to G about it. But that’s because it is new. I still do what he says. Mostly. He says he tells me to keep it in zone 2 and I run 2.9999. What? I’m still keeping it where he said. 😃 Technicalities! G has five athletes running on Sunday. We have our own little epic team!

  So, I have a lot of anxiety heading in to Sunday. I just have no idea what to expect. I could run 8:40’s or I could run 9:40’s and I really have no idea which it will be. I know I have to do this HR training much longer to for it to really work. So then, what are my goals Sunday? I want to run a good race. I want to feel like a runner again. I want to build a foundation to help me step in to the next year of running on a positive, motivated, excited note. I want to enjoy this race with so many great people and smile. A lot.

  This year Meb Keflezighi will be at Wineglass. If you don’t know who Meb is then we cannot be friends. Just kidding. Meb is now a retired American marathoner. He won a silver Olympic medal and he won Boston the year after the bombings. He lifted the entire city and running community up after the bombings. You need a positive, inspiring  role model? Follow Meb.  Even before Boston, I loved him. He’s won several other marathons but that’s not what makes him so special. One year he was running new York and had several issues. I can’t recall exactly but I think he had a bad stomach which caused several stops. He was way back from the elites and continuing to run with the regular runners. Most elites do not do this- they drop out and save their body for another race. Meb? He decided to run with and encourage other runners. He ran with a man to the finish and they held hands crossing the finish line. He’s just an amazing person. Meb will be speaking at the spaghetti dinner the night before the race. I honestly don’t know if he is running. But wouldn’t it be cool if he did? Maybe…the 3:55 pacer?! Can’t you see Meb and Meg running down Market Street to the finish holding hands?!?! Okay, I’m getting carried away.  But a girl can dream. 😊

Seriously though, I adore Meb. I remember running Boston back in 2014. I was just heading on to Comm ave in to the hills and someone told us Meb won. I couldn’t believe it.  I remember running with a huge smile on my face. After the bombing and how awful it was, to have Meb win it, it was overwhelming. It still gives me chills. He helped Abby and Kielin as well. After what they saw at the finish line the year before…to know this amazing American man stepped up and ran his heart out to win it…well, they know him and I hope they get to meet him at some point.

On second thought, I don’t know that it would be a good idea to run with Meb. There’s a very strong chance he would see ugly tears. I’m not sure that would be the picture I would want to leave him with. Do you think he would be able to tell me to put on my big girl pants?!

 I’m really looking forward to the weekend. Wineglass is such a fun weekend around so many friends.  I practically lose my voice on Saturday from talking so much.  I’ve only ever run Wineglass half so this will be a new experience. With all the bad in the world, I’m very lucky to be here doing this and meet up with so many good people.  I’m lucky that my body is still allowing me to do this. I’m lucky to have a wonderful coach and husband behind me. I’m just lucky. Period. And I will remind myself of that many times along the way. 

 So, no matter what, it will be a great day. A new beginning of a new adventure.  Faster and stronger. I have many hopes for Sunday. I hope to make my coach and husband proud. I hope to make my kids proud. I hope to come out of the race happy.  I hope to keep a good attitude, no matter what. We can’t control what happens but we can control how we respond to it.  I know a lot of people who will be running their first full marathons and halfs on Sunday.  It’s scary. It’s brave.  But they are putting themselves in that ring and getting their asses kicked like the rest of us that toe the line. There is a whole lot of strength in that alone and I applaud them and wish them the best of luck. It will feel long and it will hurt. But that finish line? Totally worth it. Get it and don’t forget that it will be over before you know it. Be strong and be brave. When it hurts? Smile.  It will help. And we will all celebrate after. 

 

 Time to rest up, carb up and get ready to GO!

 

 

Be Brave Enough to Suck at Something new

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It’s been a while since my last blog post. For a while I was pretty good about writing every week or two. But I’m either in the mood to write or not. When I’m not…well, nothing comes out.

 

I’ve been looking forward to September for a while.  Getting back to normal life.  The past eight months have been nothing short of chaos. Some really good things and some life changing that brought me to my knees.

 

At the end of January I fell and broke some ribs. Shortly after that Geoffrey and I got engaged. Because my dad was not feeling well, we planned the wedding for July hoping he could come. Travelling down to Florida to be with my dad in early March and him passing March 27th.  I still can’t seem to think of him without tears. I miss him every damn day.  His popcorn habbit. His bad driving. His always being there.  He wasn’t a man of many words but he was always there. I have two very short voicemails from him that I listen to when I need to hear his voice. I miss him. 

   We still had the wedding to plan and, oh yeah….the Ironman to train for and to meet my fundraising commitment. A year earlier I was so blown away with the community at Lake Placid that I decided to go back and race for the Ironman Foundation to give back.  But this year, that put me in a tough situation. I had monetary goals to meet ($3,500) and no option of deferral.

 Our wedding was a wonderful day with all our loved ones with us. Those we lost were remembered in special ways. I’m beyond grateful for those that came to share it with us.

The Ironman was certainly not my best and hours off my previous but I did what I could with what I had and I finished.  I finished as the top fundraiser on the Lake Placid IMF team. I’m eternally grateful to all those who helped me achieve that amazing goal. Regardless of how I felt about that race….we did a whole lot of good for those who need it. You raised over $6,000 for these communities.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

 Just before school started we brought home a three month old Beagle mix puppy. He was rescued from a kill shelter in Alabama. He needed a home, and well, we have one. He has fit in wonderfully with Belle ad Lionel and he has stolen our hearts. We kept the name he was given, Wicket, even though we should change it to Smiley as he looks like he is always happy and smiling. He and Lionel get in to all sorts of trouble and when Lionel is hiding in shame, Wicket sits in the middle of the mess with a great big smile across his face showing me what he did 😊.

  So, yeah, some down time is necessary. I’ve been craving it. I’m training for Wineglass Marathon, my first stand alone  marathon in 3 years.  I really want to run under four hours. I know I have a chance but we all know that the day can bring anything.  So we will see.   This year I want to get stronger and get back the speed I lost during Ironman training.  I’d love to Boston Qualify again next year if I can get there. But good things take time. I know that. 

 I also know that I needed to change some things. I really needed some strength work. I started last year but I never continue it by myself. Especially in that creepy, dark, smelly basement where the monsters live. At least spiders.  I’m not getting any younger and I know strength will be a huge key in staying healthy and fit and reaching my goals. So, I decided to bite the bullet and throw myself out there in to something brand new. CrossFit.  I met with my friend and Crossfit beast, Kristina, and told her my plans. She was so encouraging so I decided to go for it.  I keep reminding myself of that quote “Be brave enough to suck at something new”. Well…this is so true for me. Because unless it is a running drill, I do suck. Haha. But I’ve been going for about a month and I’m really enjoying it.  We do have a lot of running drills mixed in to the strength stuff. What that usually means is that I’m first in from the run but then I’m left hanging on the bar dangling while everyone else runs in and does their pullups or whatever the drill is. They move on and I’m still there hanging. Or when someone asks me about my Ironmans seeming impressed but then you look at our barbells and they have 100+ pounds on theirs and mine is empty 😃  Did I mention how humbling this is? But…I am getting stronger and we all have to start somewhere.  The people are so supportive and it really is fun to be part of a group.  I have a feeling that while I will never be one of those who can do crazy lifting, I will stick to this.

 Our class last night was to run 5 miles.  I never get to run fast a side from shorter intervals so it was fun.  I’m having some tight back/hamstring issues which are a pain but even with that I was happy with my effort. I’m no where near the speed I was three years ago, but that’s what the next year is about. Getting that back. I have support an guidance to get there so all I need is to find the rest IN me. And I will give what I have.

 I thought I would love September and just being home, working, training and supporting my family in their activities. But I’m finding myself…well, down.  I cry a lot. I feel sad a lot. Pretty overwhelmed at times. Not by anything in particular but more the combination of everything.  This isn’t normally like me as I like my job, LOVE my family and pups and don’t sweat too much over the little things.  Jenn mentioned that I’m probably finally dealing with everything that went on the first half of this year and she is right….there was so much and it’s only now I’m able to process it. Unfortunately, I thought it would be relaxing but it isn’t. Not yet, anyways. I hope soon.

 I do have things I’m pretty excited for though.  Our family will be taking a REAL vacation over Christmas to Disney. That doesn’t feel real yet but in time it will. I love cheering for Abby at cross country and Kielin baseball. We’re going to visit Reilly this weekend for family weekend. And of course, we get to proudly watch Elliot’s shows.  I have Wineglass marathon coming in a couple weeks and my very first ultra (NYRR 60K) on November 17th. So I have SO much good to be excited about.  I need to get myself together a bit. Sleep more.  Eat better. Believe in myself and good things. The good, happy feelings will come. I believe that.

 Until then, I need to acknowledge my feelings, surround myself with good people and work hard.  And that’s exactly what I plan to do. 

Ironman Lake Placid 2019

I’ve struggled to find my thoughts about Ironman Lake Placid.  I came away from this race feeling pretty terrible about myself.  I came away not wanting to look at my bike and wanting nothing to do with running or swimming.

I have no right to feel this way.  Geoffrey was upset with me telling me that I was taking away from all those who were on the course for 15+ hours. He said I was taking away from the people who love me and who just want to be proud of me.  I struggled all week. I don’t want to take away from anyone. Those people who finished long after dark are forever my heroes. An Ironman is a ridiculously hard beast to train for- forget about the race itself.  In the second half of the run to head away from the finish line in the pitch black when everything hurts like never before, not even knowing if you can make the cutoffs??….It’s bloody awful. And those that do it?? That’s heart and courage beyond anything I could ever explain.  Those people forever earned the title and more in my book.

Those close few who I have opened up to have been wonderful. The don’t understand but they’ve let me vent and get my emotions out.  I didn’t think I’d ever write this blog.  I didn’t know how to get out a race report. I didn’t want to. But I decided to give myself one paragraph and then I need to close the book and move on. So here goes….

Coming in to this race for the past 3 months all I wanted to do was finish. I constantly pushed on asking “Can I finish?” I’ll be happy to finish.” I came in to this race undertrained. I came in to this race knowing I did not have the preparations to be at my best or even close. I would have deferred if not for the promises and commitments I made. So, with encouragement of many, I pushed on.  I knew full well that finishing 2+ hours later or not making a cutoff was a very real possibility.  The problem with me is that it doesn’t matter if I had a leg cut off. I would still be mad if I didn’t do as well as the past race. That’s stupid. That’s not gratitude- it’s arrogance. I did make two huge mistakes last week. It’s not worth going in to them because it doesn’t matter.   I’m not a professional and I’m certainly not going to Kona.  All that mattered was that I finished. And I did.  And there’s nothing more to say about that.  I wish I ran better. I wish I did better. I struggled. Especially on the second loop of the run. I was hurting pretty damn bad.  It wasn’t in the cards and the fact that 15% were DNF’s this year is a very loud “shut the hell up” to me. So I will.

I had a few goals for IM LP this year.   The only physical goal I met was to finish.  But I had other goals too and tried like hell to hit them:

I wanted to race with gratitude and grace. And despite how I felt after the race, I felt a mountain of gratitude during the race for where I was, all the thousands of wonderful volunteers who were out there, my loved ones near and far supporting me and all the wonderful friends and teammates sharing the course with me.  I tried to thank everyone and talk to as many people as I could.  I tried to encourage people I passed and cheer on those who passed me.

Two days before the race a friend from our town messaged me saying that she would be in T2 waiting for me. And she was. And I wasn’t in good shape but I asked her to just tell Geoffrey that I was okay. And she did. And she helped me get ready to head out on the run and she told me that my father was out there with me. And I needed to hear that.  Kristina, thank you.

I spent many Saturdays on the roads of Syracuse with Maura. Maura fought her way to Lake Placid and never let a single damn thing stop her. She is such a positive force in this world and I consider myself so lucky to know her.  Congratulations, Maura and thank you. You made every bit of this better and I’m so proud of you.

New friends and old who I had the honor of sharing the course with. David Conner, David Hensen, Brenna Kay, Wolfgang Dave Wiesemann, Eric Gibbs, Scott Cole, Tanya Carbone  all my IMF teammates and anyone else I missed.  Whether you biked the course on a fat bike, cheered me on when we crossed paths or simply shared a painful nod or thumbs up in passing, thank you. You lifted my spirits and I tried to give you all I had in the moments we saw each other. Your stories touched my heart and you will forever have my friendship and support in all you those dreams you chase. Your encouragement meant more than you will know. Thank you so very much to all of you and congratulations.

My other goal was to smile and hold it together no matter how bad I felt- especially in front of my family. I have not always been good at this and I wanted them to know how grateful I was that they were there.  Every damn time I saw them I smiled. I stopped. I hugged them.  And it worked because both Abby and Kielin said they enjoyed this race more than any other triathlon ever. They both said I looked better than I ever had. Kielin said he used to want it to be just be over but he really like it this time and he felt like crying when I crossed the finish line.   I didn’t realize how much this affected them in the past and I will make this a goal going forward always.

When I was out walking along the beach yesterday morning I realized why I had such sadness over this race.  It’s not that I’m just upset over my race. I was but it’s way, way more than that.  This race training started before everything happened this year. Before I got injured. Before Geoff and I got engaged. Before My father got sick. Before he passed away. Before we got married.  I realized yesterday that as long as I was still training and raising money in my father’s honor then he was still here.  But the race is over and it’s time to close the chapter.  It breaks my heart and it hurts like hell.  But life is good and there is so much more living to do.

So, before I move forward I want to thank all those who donated towards the Ironman Foundation. You raised so much money to help so many people.  You have my heartfelt gratitude. Communities that desperately need help are receiving it because of you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

To my family. My children and Geoffrey. I am beyond grateful you let me take us to these crazy races for vacation. You put up with my training and my tired grumpiness.  You are the best support and inspiration one could ever ask for. Ever. I will follow you on any dream you want to follow and I will be your biggest fan.

 

To Dad. To E. To Emily. To Regina. To Eileen and to Leslie. We did it. We never even looked at that bell not matter how late and how dark it got. I carried you all with me every step and we finished the race and became a 3X Ironman. A lot more painful and a lot slower but we got there and were NEVER giving up.

6 Days

Well, here we are. 6 days out from Ironman Lake placid.

 

I’m beyond excited and beyond nervous.  Until you’ve  been tapering for an Ironman you just have no idea just how crazy it makes you. Marathon tapering is one thing. It’s hard and it makes you…hungry. Marathon tapering made me cranky. You question yourself but at the same time, you know you can finish, even walking. Ironman tapering takes 15 hours of training a week and cuts it down in the last week to very little. “Rest time”.  It makes me giggly, crazy and ready to cry any minute. Your mind takes that extra free time and uses it to explain why, no matter how many ironmans you have completed, it is completely ridiculous and impossible to complete the 140.6 miles in 17 hours.  Tears flow easily. 

 

 Last year’s race was mixed with so many crazy highs and some really ugly lows. There are many reasons I’m going back this year.  I wanted to do better. I wanted to give back. I wanted to cross that finish line again. These challenges are part of who I am.  But here’s the biggest and scariest one: Last year, right around mile thirteen, where I couldn’t stop vomiting and dry heaving is the closest I’ve ever been to quitting.  I just wanted someone to put me out of my misery. For a half a second I agreed for help and then I turned it down thinking of the people and reasons I needed to keep going.

 I have never forgotten that moment. 

 

 Yesterday I was scrolling through the Facebook feeds and came across a post from a teammate from the Ironman Foundation who is also racing Lake Placid on Sunday.  He made a pancake in the shape of the M-dot but it was kind of sad looking (sorry David 😃 ).  His daughter asked, confused,  what it was and he said that’s what he’s going to look like at the end of the race. To quote his post: “ Her response very simply, just remember ‘don’t ever ever ring the bell’ “.

Well….if that did not start my tears flowing that I do not know what will. Just kidding….at the moment losing a sock makes me cry. But this had the waterworks flowing. What an amazing statement from a child.  If you don’t know the reference to ringing the bell, it refers to a popular commencement address given by Admiral William H. McRaven, a Navy Seal.  If you haven’t watched this, please do so. It’s about twenty minutes long and it’s worth every second. You can watch it here:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxBQLFLei70

 

 

It occurred to me yesterday that this is why I’m so nervous and excited for the race next week.  Last year at mile thirteen was the closest I have ever come to ringing the bell.  It was right in front of me and I almost did.  That terrifies me. Not pain, not being sick, not bike issues, not the weather, not doing something hard.  It was the fact that I almost rang the bell. I didn’t do it.  But it was the closest I ever was in any race.  So…of course I’m going back.  I need to know that I will never EVER ring it.  And if I have to go back 100 times to be sure, well, then I will. 

 

 

These kids, their understanding and how they make us see difficult things so simply amaze me.  Kielin keeps asking if I’m ready.  He keeps asking what I have packed on my bike in case I were to get a flat or hole. He keeps asking about my food and how I’m feeling. As much as he isn’t a fan of triathlons (maybe if there was a 4th discipline where you had to dribble a basketball for four hours he would be more excited 😃)…I think he gets it somewhere even if he doesn’t want to admit it. 😊

 

I’m doing all I can to raise as much money for the Ironman Foundation as I can.  I’m trying to think of some creative ideas to raise last minute money. When I watch the videos of all the good that is done for the children, veterans, areas of disaster, etc. it pushes me to try to do more.  I’m feeling, though, that I’m out of ideas.  I’d love a big way to end the fundraising and bring more to those communities. If you’ve got any ideas please feel free to reach out. I’m never trying to push people…just to help them see how much good can be done.  If you want to join in on some fun…throw a finishing time out there for me. A $10 donation gets you in the game. Winner gets a Lake Placid gift basket!

 

 

 I’m going to try to do my thing this week. Work and tie up loose ends before vacation. Pack pretty much everything in the house.  Get my mind and body ready. Stop eating ice cream. At least so much. But it’s just soooo amazing, right?? And this is why I have to keep racing Ironmans. 😊

 

I have lots of goals this weekend. Some I know I can hit and some I might not (finishing in daylight). Most importantly, I want to race with gratitude. I want to smile when I see my loved ones no matter how much it hurts. I want to remind myself how friggin lucky I am to be out there part of something so wonderful with people just trying to do something big and good. I want to represent the Ironman Foundation to the very best of my abilities. I want to carry and race for those loved ones I promised to carry including my dad.  

I want to meet the bell again, and I will at some point on Sunday, and this time to blow by it without a second glance.

 

Hopefully in a few days I will be dancing down that finish line and hear those words for a third time. It never gets old..the chills of thinking of that finish line. Never.

Hopefully in a few days I will be able to hug my family and friends running around that oval meeting my children and husband with tears of joy. Cheers of delight for those who already finished and standing there at that carpet until the others do. I have a lot of fears but so much more hope and excitement.  That’s what makes all of this so special.  6 days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.