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!

 

 

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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

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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.

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.