Running and Being a Kid…

Kassie Jackie Me

My mind works in mysterious ways.  I can jump between subjects in a conversation faster than my listener can keep up.  In my head, I have gone from one thing to another, and it makes perfect sense.  To the average listener (or my husband), I am sure what comes out of my mouth seems completely random.  That’s how my mind was working last night.

The two ladies pictured with me are my very best friends, Jackie and Kassi.  We grew up three houses from one another (Jack and Kass are sisters), and have been through all the ups and downs of life together the past 35 years.  Wow.  35 years.   That’s a long time to maintain a friendship – how very blessed we are!

When I began this running journey, Jackie decided to join me.  Together we pushed beyond what we thought were our limits.  Together we crossed the finish line of our first half marathon holding hands.  Once we began building mileage, and our love affair with running began to be noticed by others, Kassi took up running.  She quickly built her endurance and speed, and the threesome was begun.  Where we used to run the streets of Tell City as obnoxious teens, we were now running as fit and not-so-obnoxious moms.  Our favorite and most sacred run was our Wednesday Night Religion Run.  Kassi’s and Jackie’s kids had religion every Wednesday night, so they had a free hour to run.  We met at St. Paul Church, and managed four to six miles.  We have run in bitter cold and sleet; we have run in rain; we have run in blistering heat.  There wasn’t much we let get in the  way of our ritual run.  When I was asked to join the church choir, and I said I couldn’t because I run on Wednesday nights when they practice, I was asked why I couldn’t just run another night.  Sorry, Wednesday Night Religion Run is a priority, and God understands because the word ‘religion’ is in the name of that particular run.

Because of my knee issues and eventual surgery, I had not been able to run on Wednesdays since late March or early April.  I desperately missed my friends.  On those runs we have laughed at our own stupid jokes (we get each other’s humor), and we have cried because of some trial one of us was facing.  We have almost gotten hit by cars, and we have cheered for ourselves at the end of a great run.  We have walked when one of us is tired or hurting, and we have sprinted when Jackie commands us to finish strong.  We talk about our kids, our loves, our jobs, our poop, our snot, and other not-to-be-blogged-about topics.  Do you understand why I would miss these runs?  Why I did not want to give them up?  But I had to heal.  I couldn’t keep up.

I began running again about three weeks ago.  I started out running a slow mile.  The next week I ran two and then three miles.  Last week I ran four miles, and finally on Sunday I ran five miles.  After thinking I was going to be starting from scratch, being able to run five miles was an absolute thrill.  Tuesday I took off for a run after school, and it was my first pain-free run in nearly a year.  I could feel the runner in me emerging, and she was ready!  I texted Jackie and Kassi, and told them I was ready for Wednesday.   On Wednesday, October 23, I ran the Wednesday Night Religion Run with my friends.  It felt amazing, and by that I don’t so much mean the run; I mean just being with my friends and talking and laughing.  I know I am not completely healed, and will have to be careful to not push too hard, but I now have hope that my running life will resume, and I will once again be running the streets of our fair town with my friends.

Here’s where the random thoughts run amok….I was driving home from my run, all giddy and emotional, and I thought about Kass and Jack.  I thought about how we get to reminisce about our childhood.  We played outside all through junior high and high school.  We played hide and seek in our neighborhood until we graduated, and we rode bikes, and did a few things we shouldn’t have done (that’s on the not-to-be-blogged-about list).  In the summer we sat in Kassi’s and Jackie’s backyard with Sun-In in our hair (or lemon juice), playing Scrabble.  On snow days we played Monopoly and watched movies or found a vacant hill upon which to sled.   Jackie taught Kassi and me how to drive (I was apparently a better student because Kassi was always running into something).  Kassi and I ate popcorn and watched the Love Boat on Saturday nights.  We got all of the neighborhood kids together and played truth or dare, or we just sat outside and threw rocks at the bats by the street lights (which doesn’t seem very smart now).  Thinking about all of this on my drive home, led me to wonder what today’s kids will store in their memories.  How many teens do you see ‘playing’ outside?  They are so wrapped up in video games and computers that I wonder what memories they will share with their friends?  I find that sad.   We had such a fun neighborhood, and most of us are still friends today.   That’s where my thoughts stopped – just wondering about kids today.  I hope they are making worthwhile memories and taking advantage of their young, healthy bodies.   I hope their only memories aren’t of avatars and shooting and stealing cars on some stupid video game.  I hope they can sit down and have an actual conversation with their friends and not purely rely on text messages.

And you?  You’re not too old to continue making wonderful memories with your friends and family.  Get out and do something with them.  Go for a hike and enjoy the beautiful fall foliage.  Play kickball or shoot hoops.  Step away from the TV and computer and really live.  You only have one shot at life; make it memorable!

Peace and Love…

This photo has nothing to do with my blog, except that he is my gorgeous grandson, and I plan to make lots of memories with him!

This photo has nothing to do with my blog, except that he is my gorgeous grandson, and I plan to make lots of memories with him!

Getting My Mojo Back

It’s been three weeks and three days since surgery.  It seems much longer.  It’s been three weeks and four days since I really exercised, and I am beginning to really miss my workouts.  Tuesday I decided to go for a walk after a meeting at school.  I wanted to listen to my music, and see if I could walk a little quicker than I had been.  I put on my neglected workout clothes, plugged in my earbuds, turned on my running jams, and headed out on my favorite route.

My knee felt great!  I walked three miles, and for two of those miles I maintained a 15-minute pace.  That’s a pretty quick walking pace.  I was into my running playlist, evening singing along at times, and I didn’t really care who heard me.  I had my mojo back!  I was sweating and working hard!

As I trotted along, singing, I had some of my strange-and-uninteresting-very-random thoughts.  Have you ever wondered what  you would do if you knew no one would see you?  I am not talking about what you do in the privacy of your home (some things are better left in private), but when you’re out and about, and suddenly get the urge to do something childish.  That’s one of the things I was thinking about as I walked along (at my very super-fast pace).  Here is what I would have done if I really did not care what anyone thought (there were a lot of walkers, runners, and bikers out that day who might have reported a short crazy lady to the police had I given in and tried everything that crossed my mind).  I would have picked an orange flower from a bush along the path, and put it in my ponytail just for fun.  I would have stopped and danced to a couple of Zumba songs.  I would have continued to sing loudly, even when I passed people, just because I like the songs.  I would have asked the guy who was fishing if he was catching anything, and watched him for a bit.  I would have played on the swings for a few minutes.  Aren’t there little things that your inner child wants to do, but your boring adult self says are unacceptable – especially when you are by yourself?  Why can’t we sing out loud if the mood strikes us?  Why can’t we dance when the song is perfect?  Why do we have to be so adult all the time?

If you see me out walking or running, you might just hear my off-key voice singing some Pink song, or notice my hands are actually doing dance motions.  You might see me talking to some random stranger because something about her interests me.  Life is too short to be serious all the time.  We all work hard, try to make our communities better, provide leadership for our youth, and act like grown-ups at work.  We need to take some time to sing and dance.  We need to have fun without fear of what ‘they’ might say.  Who the heck is ‘they’ anyway?

Oh, and my knee?  It hurt like crazy the next day.  My mojo just came for a brief visit.  But it’ll be back!  Next week, I will attempt to run.  And I’m gonna sing when I do it!

This Damn Knee

I haven’t whined about my knee injury for some time, so it’s time.  Before I begin complaining, I will find the positive.  I am so very thankful that I can do everything but run.  I am still able to teach my Zumba classes, participate in Pilates and yoga, and remain pain-free most of the time.  I can go up and down my steps, walk without a limp, and rock the Spartacus Workout (I don’t really rock it, but it sounds good).  I can exercise, which is certainly something for which I am very grateful.

But I can’t run.  Running has become a part of who I am.  It is how I relieve stress; it is my time with friends; it is my time by myself to process my day.  Running makes me feel strong.  Running exhausts me and invigorates me.  It makes me proud and it makes me frustrated.  I miss it.  I have been in physical therapy for four weeks, and have made no progress.  I have had numerous Astym treatments, and though the treatments feel great, when I attempt to run, nothing has changed.  Gary, Addison, and I went to the track the other night.  I hadn’t tried to run in almost a week, so I wanted to see if I could go a little further.  I was determined to run a mile without stopping.  I did it, but the second half hurt.  By the end of the mile, I knew it was time to stop.  I walked a lap, and then tried to run again.  It hurt.  I can’t begin to tell you how angry it makes me.  In the depths of my soul, I just want to take off.  Because I have no pain in my knee when I arrive at the track, I feel as if I will be able to run.  Once I get beyond a lap or two, I can feel the discomfort; as I run a bit further, the discomfort becomes an ache, and further along, a pain.  Once the pain is more intense, I can feel myself limping along.  And I am so frustrated.  Considering that not so long ago, I considered a three-mile run a short run, knowing it’s now a lofty goal is irritating.  

My therapists also seem frustrated because nothing makes sense to them.  They don’t understand why I can do so many physical activities, but I can’t run to save my life.  They have been wonderful, but they can’t very well fix what no one can figure out.  I have even wondered if I am imagining the pain.  And then I try to run, and realize that nope, that is not my imagination.  Next week I will have an MRI – finally.  I hope it gives the doctor some answers.  If I need surgery, sign me up.  If I am never going to run again, lock me up.  Just tell me what’s wrong.  This pain began back around Christmas, so my patience has long since run low.  

My next race was to be the St. Louis Rock n Roll Half Marathon at the end of October.  When I had to drop out of the Derby Mini in April, I immediately set St. Louis as my goal.  I thought that since I had six months, it would be no problem.  Wrong.  I just don’t feel that I am going to be able to run over 13 miles by then.  I can already tell my endurance is waning.  To build it back up will take time.  I actually have moments when I want to say screw it.  I will just give up running and stick with other forms of exercise.  And then I drive down the streets and see my friends out running, and I want more than anything to be out there sweating beside them.  I miss running.  

So, my knee sucks.  But in the whole of life, I am still blessed.  I am healthy; I can exercise; my family is healthy; I have a fantastic new job awaiting me; and I have lots of family and friends who love me.  When I get frustrated because I cannot run, I need to remember those who can’t see, those who can’t hear, those battling disease, those who can’t walk, and all the others who have much larger struggles than not being able to run.  I am very blessed.  Are you?  

 

Some Random Thoughts…

WARNING:  Random thoughts and possibly some stream of consciousness writing ahead!  Typically when I sit down to write a blog, I have some sort of plan.  I teach my students to pre-write; you have to have a plan!   Well, today I don’t have a plan, just some thoughts.  Here it goes…

First, I want to address my friend, Emily’s blog.  She became aware of a website on which people can anonymously post anything they want, including insults about anyone.  They can post the names of others, without having to post their own names.  Wow.  What guts it takes to sit at a computer bashing people, without attaching one’s own name to the post.  Why would any person with a conscience participate in such a forum?  Their lives must be rather pathetic if they fill their time by tearing others down.  I have never liked people who constantly criticize others, and who cannot be happy when someone is successful.  You know the type:  She thinks she is really something since she got that job.  She thinks she is so great since she lost weight.  He thinks he is better than everyone since he got that promotion.  How can they afford that big house?  Blah, blah, blah.

 Having been the topic of gossip in this town, I know it hurts.  It is easy to say we don’t care what others think, but deep down, those comments sting.  No one is perfect; we have all said or done things we aren’t particularly proud of, but gossips love to take those weaknesses and build elaborate stories.   I cannot sit here and say that I have never participated in gossip; that isn’t true.  What I can say is that I do my best to avoid it.  I know in the past there were some pretty nasty stories about me floating around, and that people said they knew it was true.  It wasn’t.  Though it was a difficult time, I learned many lessons.  Unless I have seen something myself, or have spoken with the subject of the gossip, I don’t believe much of anything.  I try to look deeper, and know that there are always two sides to every story.  And I know that it usually isn’t really any of my business.  We are all curious, but spreading rumors, trashing others, and accepting gossip as gospel is wrong.  Give others a chance.  Everyone has a story; everyone has struggles; and everyone deserves your compassion.

Emily will learn that she has so many friends and supporters, and that those anonymous people who  post negativity likely have very few friends.  Who would want them as friends?  It is hard to not get caught up in the ‘talk’; we want to defend ourselves.  Recently, I have had someone telling our mutual friends a lie about something I said (she twisted my words to her benefit).  While my instinct is to be sure to tell everyone it is simply not true, I don’t want to lower myself to that level.  I would hope that those who know me know better, so I am taking the high road (and it’s hard!).  Will I ever trust that individual again?  Absolutely not.  Okay, enough of that.

Fitness…I am barely running, and it is not going well.  I began physical therapy this week.  I have only had one session, so I can’t really expect to feel a difference, though it would have been nice.  In an odd way, I rather enjoyed the therapy.  Despite the bruises on my leg, I can’t wait to go back for more.  As the therapist was assessing my knee issues, she could come up with no reason for my pain.  Absolutely nothing hurts except running.  I can do Zumba, Pilates, Yoga, jumping jacks, and box jumps.  I just cannot run without pain.  She pushed and prodded, and kept asking if it hurt.  Nope.  I believe she was puzzled.

The best thing about my visit was that the therapist told me to try running.  She wants to see if the therapy is working.  Always one to follow orders, I hit the track with our Biggest Loser team last night.  We did ten stair laps, then took off to run or walk two miles, each at our own pace.  My friend Breanne and I took off together.  My knee began to hurt by the time I’d run a half lap.  Crap.  I went ahead and ran a lap, and then walked.  We continued alternating walking and running, and my knee continued to hurt.  By the time Gary, Addison, and I arrived home, it really hurt.  I have this fear that running might no longer be in my future.  I am fortunate (and keep reminding myself of this) that I can do everything else.  I am still able to work out, and I can still teach my classes.  I have taken this ‘opportunity’ to try new classes, and have found that I like Pilates.  It is difficult, and I feel wimpy, but I will get stronger, and hopefully gain some balance.  One bright spot last night was when Addison ran.  We have been trying to get her interested in running for four years, and she is finally showing some interest.  I bought her some new neon yellow running shoes yesterday, and she tried them out last night.  She ran a mile at a 9:48 pace, which is excellent.  She wants to try some races, and I desperately want to run with her.

I have rambled long enough.  I will leave you with some things to think about today:

  • Rather than bring others down, lift them up!  Give at least three compliments today.  I bet you will feel better!
  • Don’t believe the gossip.  And if you know it’s true, don’t judge.  You don’t know their stories.
  • Get active!  If you focus on improving your own health, you won’t have time to worry about others’ lives.
  • Likewise, if you feel good about yourself, you will want others to have that same feeling.
  • DON’T EVER PARTICIPATE IN AN ANONYMOUS FORUM!  If you have something important to say, put your name with it.  Address the person directly rather than online.  This goes for Facebook, too.
  • Have an outstanding day!

Ironman 2012

On Sunday, my family had the privilege, and I do mean privilege, of witnessing our friend Chris Hollinden complete the Ironman Triathlon in Louisville, KY.  We had never been to an Ironman competition, and thought it would be fun to watch, and we wanted to support Chris in his effort.  Well, let me tell you, fun does not begin to describe the day.  And as hard as I try to put our experience in words, I can assure you, I will not be able to do it justice.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Ironman format, it begins with a 2.4 mile swim…in the OHIO RIVER!  Can you imagine?  I would be crying as soon as I hit the water.  After the swim, the competitors transition to the cycling portion – 112 miles of cycling.  Once they get their legs warmed up by cycling, and they have already been competing, oh, say six or seven hours, they have to…run a full marathon!  26.2 miles!  That is a grand whopping total of 140.6 miles for the day!  I don’t run that in a month. 

Our day started early; we left our house at 5:15 am.  The first wave of the race was to begin at 6:00 our time, but I really am not a morning person, and did not want to leave at 4:00.  We arrived at the riverfront in time to watch the swimmers come out of the river.  What a sight it was to see nearly 3000 athletes swimming in the river.  Since we couldn’t find the Hollindens, we texted back and forth so that we would all see Chris come through.  We positioned ourselves where we could see the swimmers running through to the transition area, and then take off on their bikes.  We were afraid we would miss Chris, but spotted him (or whom we thought was him), and then received a text that it was.  We were able to see him take off on his bike, and he saw us as he began that leg of his journey.

After he left the area, we met up with his wife Kelly, and his parents Tony and Rhonda.  We drove to Lagrange, Kentucky to the viewing spot for the cycling portion.  We were in awe.  These men and women came cycling through, smiles on their faces, waving to the crowds.  We all stood together anxiously awaiting Chris’s entrance into Lagrange.  Of course, we saw him for about ten seconds, but it was worth it to get to cheer him on.  The Hollinden clan stayed to watch him come back through Lagrange, but we headed back to Louisville to do some shopping (I can always work that in!).

After our shopping, it was time to travel back to the riverfront to watch the transition from bike to run.  At this point, I was just so impressed with these athletes.  To even want to attempt such an incredible event is just so admirable.  We stood watching as the athletes started the marathon leg of the Ironman.  Some were beginning to wear down; some were dropping out.  I must mention that by this point it was in the 90s.  And sunny.  I whined trying to run eight miles Saturday and it wasn’t even the hottest part of the day.  These people are beasts!  Once again, we were so fortunate to get to see Chris as he began his run.  He still looked so strong. 

At this point in the day, I decided I am a wimp.  I had, for the past couple years, felt pretty good about my so-called athletic ability.  I can run 13.1 miles – I was proud of that.  As we watched these amazing athletes who were completing 140.6 miles, 13.1 miles seemed like nothing.  Nothing at all.  13.1 miles?  That’s hardly a warm-up for these people.  Please note, that absolutely does not mean I have the ambition to ever in my life attempt an Ironman.  I would cry, vomit, and throw a tantrum – all in the first mile.  My daughter confirmed that I was a wimp as she pointed out every single woman who was in my age range and competing in the Ironman. 

After watching Chris take off for the marathon, we knew we had some time, so we hit Joe’s Crab Shack for our only meal of the day.  I felt rather guilty as I ate my fish and chips in the comfort of air conditioning.  Not too guilty, I guess, because I enjoyed every bite!  Once our bellies were full, we took off again.  We headed back up toward Fourth Street toward the finish line.  We arrived there at about 4:00, and many athletes were already coming through the finish.  We somehow ended up getting the perfect spot to watch the finish:  we were about 15 feet beyond the finish line right on the fence, so we could see everyone come through the finish.  Wow.  Let me attempt to describe this experience.

The first things I noticed were all of the wheelchairs lined up.  Seriously.  These athletes had just finished 140.6 miles, and their bodies were spent.  I would venture to guess that 20% of those who actually finished (many had long since dropped out – some literally), had to be wheeled through the finish area once they hit the line.  Many people just collapsed into waiting volunteers.  They had lines of volunteers on both sides just past the finish line, and they were instructed to immediately aid the finishers as they walked through the finish area.  Some runners would wave the volunteers off thinking they were fine, only to have their legs give out.  Others came through looking pretty good.  There were also those who headed to the nearest trash can to vomit.

There were those who came through raising their hands to God in gratitude, and those who sobbed, overcome by the emotion of the moment.  Some grabbed their loved ones for hugs, others grabbed the nearest volunteer.  A couple of people rolled across the finish line (I don’t really know the story behind that), and a volunteer told us one man immediately got down on one knee and presented an engagement ring to his girlfriend.  As you can imagine by now, emotions were running high and free.  I have watched the end of many races and have run three half marathons, yet I have never experienced anything so moving.  My daughter Addison kept laughing at me because I teared up every time someone crossed the finish line.  I watched as a young man went straight to his mother and they just hugged and cried.  Sniff sniff.  We stood there for almost three hours, and were in absolute awe the entire time.  What an amazing accomplishment for all who finished.  And then Chris came through!  He still looked strong, walking unaccompanied as if he did this on a regular basis.  We went to meet him at the end of the chute and were so impressed with his composure.  He was an Ironman!  He told us he felt pretty good, just hungry.  Gary and I laughed on the way home because after we had run a half marathon, we ate uncontrollably for a couple days.  I couldn’t imagine what these folks would consume in the coming days!

We got home at about 9:00 last night, and do you know what?  There were still athletes running the marathon.  They were 15 hours in, and still going at it.  The Ironman truly is a race in which time doesn’t matter in the least.  If one can complete this grueling triathlon, he or she is a winner – plain and simple.  As we watched the Olympics a few weeks ago, we kept hearing that the winner of the decathlon would be deemed the World’s Best Athlete.  I beg to differ.  The endurance, passion, and dedication shown by all we saw yesterday make them the World’s Greatest Athletes in my most humble opinion.  So, congratulations to all, especially to our Ironman – Chris Hollinden!  You inspire us all!

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Running a Mini

First, let me say that this is my second writing of this post.  I wrote over 2000 words, hit post, and it disappeared!  I had spent a lot of time on that one, so with any luck, this one will go through.  Anyway…here goes round two…

As I was lined up with 18,000 other runners awaiting the start of the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/Mini Marathon, I began to wonder how I could describe what it is like to run a mini marathon – 13.1 miles.  I know that a few short years ago, I would have wondered why any somewhat sane person would even want to run that far.  What fun could it possibly be to run that far?  Now that I have experienced it, I get it.

Even before the official race day, one can feel the energy building.  Gary and I arrived in Louisville Friday afternoon and checked into our hotel.  We immediately saw many other runners in our building.  We headed to the expo, and found that the city was filled with runners.  We were excited just to be a part of such a big race.  Race day morning we awoke before the crack of dawn, donned our running garb, and began the trek to the starting line.  The start of the race was 6:30 am our time.  I am never much for small talk the morning of any race.  My thoughts are on trivial things such as the weather and what exactly to wear, whether or not I will need my sunglasses, if my stomach is going to hold up, and did I pee enough before leaving the hotel room.  Gary has learned just to let me be.  Despite my obsession over, well, everything, I still took in all the runners around me.  The anticipation was building as we marched closer to the starting line.

Lining up in my designated corral, I kissed Gary and we wished one another a great run, and then I was on my own.  With 18,000 other people.  It was crowded!  I kept my crowd anxiety in check, and scanned the runners around me.  Runners come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and abilities, but we all had one thing in common – we all wanted to run our best race that day.  For some running their best race meant just enjoying time with friends and checking another race off their lists; for others it meant breaking a personal record; and for those elite runners, it meant winning.  There were people running for charities or in memory of loved ones.  Some were celebrating recent weight loss.  I even saw a few who were celebrating weddings.

Once the national anthem began the crowd quieted.  We were all enthralled by the emotion of the moment.  It was almost time.  Our time.  A time we had trained for for months.  The weather was perfect, the runners excited, and the crowd supportive.  The energy of all involved provided the boost I needed to start strong.  The gun finally sounded, and the fast runners were off.  Me, well I had to wait about five minutes for the not-so-fast runners to begin.  And so it began.  I embarked upon my journey.  I started off fast <for me>, but had decided I would just listen to my body and run fast if I could, and slow down if I needed to.

There are many things that inspire and encourage runners along the way.  The crowd support in Louisville is incredible.  Many spectators hold signs, and I try to read most of them as I run by.  My favorite sign of the day was ‘Your training lasted longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage’.  Another thing that kept me going was bible passages.  Many runners had scriptures on the back of their shirts, and I seemed to come upon them at just the right times.  One of my favorites, which I not only saw a few times during the race, but my friend Amy also sent me before the race, was ‘They that hope in the Lord shall renew their Strength, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint.’  Isaiah 40:31.  How inspiring that was just when I was feeling weak.  I do thank God every run.  I am so grateful to Him for the strength, endurance, and good health to complete every run.

Along with God, Elvis also provided some much-needed inspiration.  And not just one Elvis, but five.  I was just running along, when suddenly I spied the five Elvises running ahead.  They looked awesome!  I ran beside them for a few seconds just so I could say I ran with Elvis.  There were also some young ladies who wore small versions of the fancy derby hats, and two female spectators who had put a table on the sidewalk, complete with a tablecloth and a vase with flowers.  They were enjoying tea while watching the race.  There were small children cheering on parents, and senior citizens reminiscing about their youth.  There were also DJs and bands spaced out perfectly.  Nothing like a little music to put some pep in your step!

After running through Churchill Downs, which is amazing, the marathoners break right, and the mini marathoner head back toward downtown.  That’s when it started getting hard.  Really hard.  I was getting tired, and I was starting to hurt.  Thankfully, it was about that time that the police yelled at us to move over…the first of the marathoners was coming through!  These two men, presumably Kenyans, were running at about a 6 minute pace – they were flat-out flying!  It was just an extraordinary moment when as they passed us, everyone started clapping and cheering them on.  I still get teary just thinking about it.  The energy from that sight carried me a bit further.

It took some serious effort to run the last three miles.  I had to keep reminding myself to look up and hold my shoulders back.  I kept staring at the ground in front of me, which would cause me to slump.  Slumping isn’t good.  One cannot breathe properly when slumped over trying to drag her body along.  As we ran toward downtown, the crowds grew.  I hope they know how much their cheering helps the runners.  Whether it’s true or not (in my case it most certainly was not), someone yelling, “You’re looking strong!” makes a runner feel just a little stronger.

We finally turned right onto Main Street.  Only one half mile to go!  I was so tired, and I wanted it to be over.  At that point I no longer cared about my time; I just wanted it to end.  I pushed hard, and finally crossed the finish line.  I had done it!  And, of course, I immediately checked my watch – I had beaten last year’s time by over a minute!  I was excited, but I also had an overwhelming urge to puke.  Really.  I didn’t, but it was surely questionable.  I grabbed a water, got my token race photo taken, and bypassed the food.  No way could I have stomached a bagel or banana at that point.  And beer?  No way.  They had beer at the post-race party.  I don’t like beer on a good day, but just the thought of it after the race was nauseating.  Apparently I was in the minority because the beer line was terribly long.  Gross!

My race time was 2:04:11, which is an 9:29 pace.  Last year I ran a 9:37 pace.  I was beyond thrilled.  I placed 94 out of 602 in my age group – woo hoo!!!  I was 1534 out of 6939 total females, and 4074 out of 12,104 total runners.  Maybe 4000th isn’t anything to brag about, but I beat 8000 people!  Considering I am not an athlete, and I just started running three years ago, I think I rocked it!

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that someone accused him of boasting because he posted about his recent weight loss.  Really?  I’d hate to hear what they’d say about me.  Why shouldn’t we all be proud of our accomplishments?  I think he should announce his weight loss from his roof top!  He worked hard to reach a goal and to become healthier.  Yeah!   I believe that by sharing when we meet goals, whether it be weight loss, career goals, earning a diploma or degree, or running a race, we can inspire others to continue to reach for dreams and to tackle that which intimidates them.  I would much rather read about achievements than read complaints and harsh words about others.  We should take pride in living life to its fullest, and continuing to set goals even in later years.  We should celebrate with one another and be happy for our friends!  I am certainly happy for all who saw their dreams come true in Louisville!

I must also ‘boast’ on my husband, who continues to inspire me to lace up.  His goal in the mini marathon was to finish in less than three hours.  His time:  3:00:02!  He was not happy – at all – about those 2 seconds, but he did it!  He knocked three minutes off his previous half marathon time.  We were both happy with our performances, but gosh, we were sore and tired!  We treated ourselves to a steak lunch after checking out of our hotel, and then headed home to hold down the couch the rest of the day.  Today we managed to limp into church, and as the day went on, we began to loosen up.  Was it worth it? Absolutely.  I wish I could etch every special moment along the course into my mind so I could share it with my friends, but there are simply too many of those moments to try to remember.  There really is nothing like the camaraderie of running.

So what’s it like to run a mini?  It’s tiring.  It’s envigorating.  It’s exhausting.  It’s inspiring.  It’s painful.  It’s fulfilling.  It is life-changing.

Something Different

My posts are typically about running or some other random idea that pops in my head and I feel compelled to write about.  Today I want to do something different; something not so fun.  I want to share a poem that I composed last fall.  Oh, get up off the ground and quit laughing!  I realize I am hardly a poet, but after my nephew died, I was literally driving home from Walmart, and these words came to me.  How many people can say they feel inspired after going to Walmart?

Well, I got home, put away the goods, and grabbed the computer.  This poem just spilled out.  I don’t really know if it is any good or not, or if it will even make sense to anyone.  It is simply how I was feeling, and I needed to try to put it into words.  Here it goes…

That Moment…

Joyce Stath

It only takes a moment in time

for a heart to be broken, for a life to change.

The innocent ringing of the phone,

the call no one expects.

Ma’am…I’m so sorry…

Sir…I’m so sorry…

It’s your son, your daughter,

your father, your mother,

your husband, your wife.

Those words.

 Words we never forget.

Words that devastate.

At first, they seep ever so gently into our soul,

and then, they rip relentlessly into our very being.

It isn’t true.  It can’t possibly be so.  You’re mistaken.

But I just…

You’re wrong.  No!

Tears spill over, soft shudders become breathless sobs.

How….why?

What do I do?  Where should I go?

Dear God, why?

Not very uplifting, but did it remind you of anything?  As I wrote, I was thinking back to those phone calls, those words, that changed my life.  The first was the call telling my grandmother that my father had died.  I had spent the night with her, and was nearby when she received the news.  I will never forget her words to me, “Honey, lay across the bed and cry.  Your daddy just died.”  I also thought about the call from my sister telling me that her son had died.  The tone – weakness actually – in her voice still haunts me.  I, in turn, had to make that dreadful call to my niece that her brother had died.  Knowing she would never forget my words to her, I tried to carefully word the news, but really, is there a less painful way to tell someone a loved one has died?

We never know when we might receive a life-altering phone call.  Tell those you love that you love them.  Give them a hug when you say good-bye.  Take advantage of every breath that God blesses you with – and don’t sweat the small stuff!

Peace and Love…

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