Loving Myself

Change is hard. I mean, it’s really hard.  Most people don’t do it. I’m one of those people.  For me to change things I have to be at the point where I am so done that I almost just don’t care anymore.  And that’s a point that it takes a lot to get to.

Why?

It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable.  It’s scary.

Like many, I am not afraid of hard work. That is not an issue at all. My fear is letting people down.  What if I make changes and I can’t be there for my loved ones in the way I need to? What if I hurt them because of my changes?  That absolutely terrifies me.

It’s a hard road and there is no right or wrong. At least not that we can see when we stand at the two paths.  And romantically, taking the ‘road less travelled’ is the choice we encourage everyone to take. Is it always the right choice? I don’t know.

 I have so much gratitude for the things I have in my life. I adore my family with all my heart and would give the world for them. I have wonderful friends and communities and coworkers who I have shared beautiful comraderies with for so long.  I always remind myself of these things when things aren’t going well.

 I struggle with being grateful and knowing when it’s not enough and time for change. By being grateful I mean just sucking it up with whatever is not going well and trying to see the good. I still don’t have the answers but I do believe there is a point where sucking it up just doesn’t work anymore.  Does it do more harm to those that love us? In ways, I believe so.  Certainly when it gets to a certain point.

How do we balance all this? I don’t know.

I know what I love.  I love my children to the ends of the earth. I love my husband more than he will ever know. I love my extended family and my friends who have become family dearly. I love my dogs- those loyal little souls that ask for nothing but love.  I love surrounding myself with good people- they inspire me to be better every day. I love trying to give back and make the world a better place. This is my passion and what my heart desires to do.   I love physical and mental challenges.  They require hard work every damn day and putting myself out there even when I don’t know the outcome. That’s so damn scary.  To have you own demons in your head for seven lonely hours on the bike telling you that you will fail or how much you suck.  Or telling you on the run that you just aren’t good enough….it can be a cruel place.  But every time I cross that finish line it’s a big middle finger to them and it shuts them down for a little while.   I love every once in a while during a bike ride or run realizing the beauty that is surrounding me and it’s so overwhelming that I cry.  I love the doers. The people who dare to go after their dreams even when it is hard or scary. And I love the people who stand up for others even when it means standing alone.

  I can’t even figure out the past year.  I’ve gotten in to some bad habits, I know that.  There are so many excuses and some are pretty valid. Or not. But it gets to a point where I have to look at myself and honestly ask if I’m happy with where I am.  Like everyone else, I try to make some absurd changes that will never stick.  Give up all sweets. Anyone who knows me knows that will never happen. But I have gotten to a point where I’m going to fall apart unless I take some steps to take care of me.  And I have started. Maybe small changes but acknowledging them is a big thing to me.  I have always had a bad practice of just ignoring them. But it is time.  I need self-love. That can be a hard thing for me.  But how am I supposed to tell my daughter, who has been struggling terribly, that she has to love herself when I’m putting myself through things that clearly show I don’t?

 This isn’t easy and it never will be. But it’s not okay anymore to stay the same when everything I love is getting harder and harder.

There have been many moments over the past year where I have felt embarrassed and humiliated. I was upset and then angry. Was I angry at the person? Absolutely. And it was deserved. But I’ve also given him that power. People only have that power when we give it to them. This is a lot easier for me to write than to actually stop. I don’t even know how to take it away but I need to find a way. Not to make anything easier for anyone else or to approve or allow poor behavior, but for my own peace and self-care. It’s time to find ways.

I considered dropping out of Ironman Lake Placid.  I LOVE this race and everything about it.  I cannot wait to see friends I haven’t seen in a long time and I cannot wait to be part of something so much bigger than me.  Ironman is the thing I do for myself but lately something has to give.  I can’t change the things bringing me down and exhausting me.  It seems like I have no other choices. And honestly? I’m so hard on myself. I’m slow. I’m fat. I’m upset with myself I’ll never get back to where I was.

 Last night I thought of my daughter again all night. And all my kids.  They’ve been stepping up in huge ways lately. It makes me cry. They’ve seen me struggling and they’ve put in extra efforts to help.  And how can I tell my daughter that I’m quitting my dream with ALL that I have been telling her?  That makes me a giant hypocrite.   Maybe I will have a great race. Maybe I won’t. But it is a learning experience and a step towards my goals. My coach asked me to take the week off training and give myself some rest. Then, hopefully, I will have a great weekend of training and feel back in the game. I will give it all I can. And being slower than I was is okay. Doing the best I can with what I have is what matters. I know this, it’s just a hard pill to swallow. But quitting won’t get back there any sooner. And? I HAVE been through a lot. It should be only fair that I tell myself the same thing I tell everyone else: I’m human and part of being human is picking ourselves back up and making a comeback. I mean, that’s what life is about.

So, what can I do to help myself feel better and achieve my goals? Those things that I wrote about not being able to change. Can I really not change them?  I might not be able to wave a magic wand and everything is fixed overnight but I CAN take steps towards things that are healthy and will make me happy. One step at a time.  And, hopefully, the burden will grow lighter. 

I don’t have all the answers and writing this is just as much for myself trying to figure things out as for anyone else who is struggling.   But I do know that each thing I do to love myself is a step in the right direction.  So, with all the scariness and discomfort, I’m going to try my best to love myself. I hope you take steps to love yourself also. ❤

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

It’s ironic to me that today is international Women’s day.  Why? What does International Women’s day mean?

Here is what I pulled up from Google: March 8 marks annual day to globally celebrate all things women. International Women’s Day is meant to celebrate all the achievements of women across the world– all the contributions they’ve made to social, economic, cultural and political advancements.”

Here is what I feel on this International Women’s Day: Anxiety. Stress. Fear. Overwhelming exhaustion.

I’m tired of being Superwoman. Let’s get this straight, I’m no fucking Superwoman. But over the past year plus, I certainly feel that I, along with most other women, should be or need to be.  This is how it is and we have been getting on with it and doing our thing. The problem is that we cannot keep doing this. We just can’t.

I’m all about celebrating achievements- especially of women in our society. What I’m not okay with is the price we have to pay to make these achievements.

The cost is too high.  Women are constantly left to carry the brunt of whatever it is at the time changes. It can be a pandemic where not only are women left to care, clean, cook, homeschool, nurture, entertain, and support their families. But what about those full time jobs we have to pay the bills? What about the worry when our children are not handling well being without their peers every day? What about the worry when our loved ones are sick? What about when the pandemic triggers their own debilitating battles?

Yes, there are men who play this part also but the numbers show that over and over again it’s the superwoman that takes the brunt of it all.

 And we don’t say anything. Because that is what we do. That is what we have always done.  We carry it and do our thing all the while waking with more worries during the night, maybe do our jobs, that we need, with a little less energy than we normally have and probably making more mistakes.

 We miss our exercise more often which may seem minor to some but to those who rely on it for their calm and strength…it’s crushing.

And the guilt…. The guilt is just too much.  I should have helped her more.  I should have done better at on the work assignment. I should be cooking healthier. I should be sitting with my kids. My house is messy. I didn’t realize he has a test today.  His socks don’t match. I forgot to pay a bill. I should have been more strict. The dogs need longer walks. I should have shown more compassion. I pushed too hard. I need to be in there helping her. I need to be here working. I need to be more fit. I need some peace.

I need some fucking peace.  We need some peace.

Everything is so fucking hard. And it’s not poor me. I’m not writing this for a “poor me”. This is most women I’ve talked to. This is most families right now.

Women have, throughout history, carried their families. They picked up the pieces and just carried them. They’ve quietly worked and mothered as single parents. They’ve fought make sure their children have everything they need. They show up to jobs where they are paid less and promoted less.  They miss their kids shining moments while at work receiving comments and are referred to in ways that men in the same position would never ever be called or second guessed. Those men are treated with the respect that we ALL earned.

I’m proud it is International Women’s day and so proud of all the ways women have contributed to our society.  I’m proud of those achievements we will never forget.

I’m also proud of the mom’s just trying to get by in a pandemic. I’m proud of the mom’s dealing with crap and worry day in and day out.  I’m proud of all of you. I know what it is like to worry and to not feel good enough and to always feel like you are doing the wrong thing. I know what it is like to be put down or just not treated the same for being a woman. I know what it is like to just move forward  carrying what you can.   You’re doing good.  Better than good. And I hope that someday the price isn’t so high just to be a productive woman and mom in this world. 

Honor yourself today and all that you are, Superwoman.

Walking to the beat of a different Drummer

  There are a few things I want to write about.   The first is the 12 hour ultra that I ran on Saturday, November 7th.  I don’t want to forget that race- it was a good day. More importantly, I want you to know something.  I learned that I’m stronger than I knew.   And so are you. 

The other thing I want to talk about  is motivation for trying to be a good person or doing good things. Why do we make the choices we make? I don’t know about you but I’m trying to understand and explain my own.  Sorry if this is long today but it’s been a while.

  First, the race.

About six weeks before this race I had no plans on any more races for 2020. The vast majority were cancelled and so I considered my year done.  I received an email one afternoon saying that the upcoming Hamster Wheel was ON. My first reaction? “Oh, shit!”. I had completely forgotten about this race.  A friend posted it a long time ago and it looked fun and low key. I figured I would be coming off the Anchor Down ultra-so why not sign up?  Then I forgot about it until that email came in. I can’t remember if it was four or six weeks before the race….but it wasn’t long.  At that time I was basically starting over again.  My year was such a mess up until that point but, I was finally feeling better. I was finally starting to work with Coach Brett again.    I was coming back and I had a chance to be a part of  small, outdoor race where they had all precautions worked out.  So I sent that email to Brett. If you’ve ever had a coach you know the type I mean: “ Hey, so I have this race in a few weeks. I forgot about it. A 12 hour ultra. Do you think I could do it???” He was surprisingly okay with it.  It wouldn’t be surprising except at that point my longest run was 7 miles. Seven. Haha!!!

 Over the next few weeks we got my run up to eleven miles. So I was not trained for this race and had no idea what would happen. I also knew it was a privilege to be part of it so I was going to go and see how it went. I knew there would be a lot of walking and I was fine with that.  I was worried it was on a trail and I was worried about the weather.  The colder it was, the less time I would last. I’m just not made for the cold.  And trail running….well, clumsy people like me know how that goes. 

 But in a strange turn (not for 2020….just for a typical November)… The weather was beautiful.  I mean perfect….an absolute gift of a day.  And the trail? One of the nicest I ever ran. Pretty flat and easy- just one big hill on the 4 mile loop.   The hill was the only really rocky piece of the course and I was planning to walk the hill anyways so it wasn’t a problem.   The trail looked downhill both ways. I don’t know how but it did.  For someone whose head is her biggest problem this was also a win. 

 So heading in to the race, I had NO idea what to expect.  In my wild dreams I thought maybe I could get a distance PR.  The 60K last November had been my furthest at that point (and my only other ultra).  And I trained for that race and I remember how bad my feet hurt! So yeah….sure. Let’s plan to go further on 11 miles of training. Hahaha!  I thought I was insane. I mean, I could have gotten to 20 miles or less and been done. Who knew? While talking to Brett the night before he said that maybe I could do 40 miles in the 12 hours with a lot of walking…well, then I thought YES!  But I wasn’t supposed to have any goals for this race. If you don’t train you don’t get to have goals. Okay.

 I headed into the race in a great mood. Abby and my sisters were there for the day supporting me. The weather was amazing.  I was chatty which is always a good sign.  I started to run and felt AWESOME. I mean, it was pretty slow, but still. My mind wandered.  I tried to refocus. Let set some smaller goals. Let’s get a marathon done. 

Loop after loop went buy. Every lap my sisters were waiting for me with fuel, food, clothes and whatever I might need. They were AWESOME!!!  Around 20 miles my body felt great but my feet started to hurt. I changed in to my other pair of shoes and HOLY HELL….it felt like a miracle how good my feet felt.  WHO KNEW?!?! Well, I was ready.  I headed back off for another loop. I think it was around this time that I found my friend Mindy out there. We ran for a few miles together but SHE was the badass doing the 30 hour ultra.  I was happy to see her and chat with her husband, Eric.  I was happy to still be running.  I stopped at every loop to fuel and change what I needed. I walked the hill but I was pretty much still running.   I finished the marathon in  5:13.  I was pleased.  I kept on going and at 32 miles I stopped to finally sit down for dinner. I hit 50K at 6:24. A lot slower that last year but I was pretty surprised to be there feeling good.  I changed shoes again, ate dinner, used the Hypervolt on my legs (this thing is AMAZING) and headed back out.

 However, now it was after 5:00.  At 5:00 we were allowed to have our pacers with us.  I also knew I wanted to walk more now. Mostly walking now. Abby and Nancy headed out with me. 

The truth is…I probably could have run another loop but I really do not like being alone in the dark.  And it seemed that there were far fewer runners than there were earlier in the day. And in the dark the headlamps and vests, from far away, looked like star wars characters coming at me. Not good for my head.  I’m laughing as I write this because Kylo Ren…well, I was sure he was out there in those woods coming for me. I could totally see him standing there with his lightsaber.

 So we walked and enjoyed our loop.  It was fun!  On the next loop Jane and Sue walked with me.  This was definitely a quieter loop but still good.   It was somewhere around here I texted Brett saying I wanted to go for one more loop. In my head I though 45 miles would be awesome. One loop to 44 and then just jog another mile.   I switched shoes again and Sue and I headed out.  Not only did the temperature drop a lot now but I was extremely tired.  It was dark and there were a few times I almost walked diagonally off the path. More than a few times. Now I was really dragging and all we could do was keep moving.  We finally got to the hill. At the top of the hill the path was lit with lanterns to guide us the right way.  It was beautiful. But then I also realized there was no one else around in site. So if there was an animal…well. I was planning on tucking and rolling down the hill.  Sue’s legs still worked, she could run.  As we headed back to camp, I knew I was done. Not another mile, not another step.  The cold and exhaustion had set in and I pushed beyond what I thought I was capable of that day.  

 That being said, I had an absolute blast.  Being able to take part in something outside and being able to have fun, NOT be a mental case and come out of it further than I ever expected.

G made me acknowledge that I’m stronger than I know. My sisters said that if I didn’t act like a mental case at races (they didn’t use those words) then I COULD DO really well.  Me? I’m just grateful for being there, the amazing group that ran it and for my sisters and Abby supporting me and helping me through it!!!!  It was awesome. I cannot wait to go back next year.   It turned out to be a really great day for me in all aspects and I am grateful for it!

 As far as motivation for doing good things. Well, I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately.  I try to help people.  Not always. Not as much as I think I should.  Not as much as I should. Sometimes too much and I panic. But I try to give back. Lots of people do. For all the bad we hear about, there are just as many other people doing good things.  Amazing things. I often wonder what makes people choose the things they do. 

 It’s very simple when it comes to me. Maybe not, I don’t know.  I was a shitty kid and a shitty teenager.  I was lazy.  I had zero passion.  I don’t like who I was then.

In my twenties and early thirties I lived in so much chaos that everything was always out of order. Always.   I didn’t handle things, I picked up after everything fell apart. I danced on egg shells and cried a lot.

 We got a dog.  We had no business having a dog. The little girl gave me love I didn’t deserve.  I moved out with my kids and she stayed as I couldn’t bring her. I did love her very much.  But clearly not enough.  When my old house was being sold, I was told that she was being dropped off at a pound if I didn’t find a place for her. I refused to let that happen. I couldn’t take her yet but I was working towards it. In the meantime, my dear friend took her where she lived a year with her family.  They were wonderful to Bellie and I knew they were sad when she came back to live with us.

 When she came back to live with us we gave her the attention she deserved. We adored her and her little Cuban attitude. She was my side kick. I was worried about how Geoffrey would get along with her and I quickly realized that was so silly- he LOVED that silly dog. She finally had it the way she deserved. Love and attention every day.  She was so loving and loyal- especially to me.  I always apologized to her asking why she gave me that love I did not deserve. But she did. Always.  Losing her broke my heart. It broke all our hearts. This year has been a tough one and that feels just cruel on top of it all. But that’s life.  We knew her love and we know she is running and playing with my dad now. Oh yeah- she sure loved my dad. None of us know why lol. But she barked like crazy when he was around until he let her lay on his lap getting tummy rubs. No doubt they are doing that now.

 There are so many crappy things I’ve done or not done.  Said or not said. Hurt or just didn’t help.  I had good intentions often but you know what they say about good intentions. The road to hell is paved with them.

At some point I just didn’t want to be that person any more.  I wanted to be more like my mom.  She was always giving. We always saw her giving. We did not know the extent that she gave until after she passed away. I realized that we weren’t the only ones who lost someone special.  So many others did as well.  They didn’t know her but they knew her kindness. I wanted to be like her. I want to be like her.

   This this voice in me that is always ready to tell me how much I suck. Always. No matter what I do.  Did something big to help? My brain “Nah….you’re just showing off”.  Ran a great race? My brain: “You think so? 4 years ago you would have done it much faster.”  “You’re not a good person.” “ You think you’re an ironman? You are full of excuses”. “ You BQ’d? Well, the good runners all run sub 3:30”.  “Your house is a mess, you didn’t clean this, your laundry isn’t done. You are a slob”. It never stops. Never.  It’s part of the reason that, while I can be fast on the bike, I struggle so much with the 112 ride during that race. My head eats me alive out there. It’s also why I keep going back.  I have to go until it doesn’t win.  That hasn’t happened yet.

 I’ve put on weight during covid. My brain “You were already fat…now you look horrible…no one is going to think you’re an athlete”. It doesn’t matter what you see- I see someone very different.  “Why would they talk to YOU…you say stupid things and they are only being kind”. It goes on and on and on. It never stops.  I’m not trying to be “poor me” because I know so many have this same thing. Especially at 2am where I worry about money and something I said to someone and that I will forget something….and it goes on and on…. Some of you know.  I think a lot of you know.

So then, what is my point?

Simply put, doing good pushes the demons away.  Maybe just for a day or hour or minute, but it does.  It gives meaning when it’s hard to find it in a world full of hatred. Doing good makes me realize how much we are capable of. Doing good makes me see that there is so much more to do. And that it matters. Little things matter. Big things matter. Doing good just matters.  If I’m not doing good…the weight of everything becomes too much.  I feel lost.  And really sad.  I’ve had sadness in my life. I’ve lost people and had some tough experiences. But then I look at my life I see the incredible people I get to share it with. My husband is one of the best people I have ever met. He doesn’t think so but the good ones never do.  Our children. My parents.  My siblings and their families.  My friends who have become family.  My dogs. How did I find these beautiful souls? I do not deserve them.   I never did. But I love them and want them in my life. So, the way I see it, I owe this world big. I owe it every ounce of goodness I can muster. I owe it good choices and giving back and taking care of people and spreading love.  And then I owe it more.

 Doing good is a place to put my focus. It’s positivity. It’s showing our kids there is always a choice and doing good- even when things are hard- matters.  We have no idea the impact we make with any of our choices.  It isn’t about who likes us and who doesn’t. Some will like us and some will hate us. The faster we get okay with that, the better off we will be.  But being leaders in this world doesn’t always mean saying the uncomfortable thing or being a big stance or fighting those injustices.  It can mean that, of course. But it can also be choosing to help when others don’t.  Lending a hand. Buying  a meal.  Just a damn smile.   I don’t consider myself a leader but I do know I walk to the beat of a different drummer. My mom told me that when I was young.  But maybe my beat can be a good one. Maybe I don’t always have to hear it and cringe.  I’ve written enough, it’s time to go give the dogs a cuddle.  Let’s try to do good when we can.  It matters. 

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.