Sunday, July 20, 2014

Coach

My BRF
Today I was given the opportunity to run a race as a coach. I have run with my Girls on the Run as a buddy but this time I was a coach for other runners. It was an opportunity I was going to make the most of ...
My BRF (best running friend) and I headed down to the race early. She was chosen to lead the 'back of the packers' the 3:30's. I know it sounds like an easy job but run/walking a race and keeping people moving forward is no easy task.
I headed to the GOTR tent to get my bib and meet the other Solemates. We headed to the start corrals together and soon the race began. I knew I was not going to get an "official' time so I just had it in my head that this was my long training run for the week....boy was I wrong.
The first mile had me running up on a girl that was already walking. She looked at me as I asked if she was ok and said, "This is harder than I thought" I told her that she had a long way to go and she just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other. We ran together a bit and soon she was off in front of me.
My Cousin and his wife
I just kept moving and grooving forward. I crossed the bridge at the Chicago River and as I crossed wacker, I looked up. I saw a man with a camera that looked familiar. I looked again as I got closer...it was my oldest cousin who I have not seen in about 4 years (maybe more!). They live out of state and there he was!  He called his wife over and you snapped a pic. Their oldest daughter was running the 1/2 and they were looking for her!  We hugged again and I was off and moving.
ABC& News Anchors
A few minutes later, I ran past the ABC7 tv studio and 2 reporters were out front. "Hey!  Can we take a picture with you?" "Sure" I replied. The female reporter looked at me and said, "Can I touch your tutu?" I laughed and we took our pictures and I took off again. As I continued running I noticed a young lasy all by herself on the side of the street with her shoe off...not a good sign. I slowed and asked if she was ok. She told me that her foot kept falling asleep. New laces and shoes that were too small were the problems I figured out after listening to her. We loosened her laces and started running together. She felt better as she was alone at the race and soon she was off ahead of me.
I ran for a while just handing out high fives and encouragement as I moved through the miles. At mile 5, one of the girls from my training group ran up next to me. We ran together for a while and chatted. We both realized that this was not going to be easy. It was humid and we were in it to finish. I lost her at the water but kept moving. She had told me where her husband and baby daughter were  going to be so I was on the lookout and soon I saw them. I told them she was right behind me....and soon, there she was...running right to her daughter!  It was so sweet to see them together and the boost she got from seeing them!
I left her and headed on forward to soon be joined by one of my fellow Solemates. We ran together and talked a little, getting to know each other but she was so much faster than me and I could not keep up so off she went.
I stopped to talk to a few girls that were starting to cramp and had not had enough sports drink. They made it to water and were determined to finish. I saw many struggling runners at miles 9-10. More and more people were beginning to walk.
At Mile 11 a man and woman came up beside me and we ran together for a bit. I told the man he was my hero and was so amazing. Why? He was pushing her wife in the wheelchair. She told me that she was a star runner until the recently she was diagnosed with a progressive form of MS. He was not a runner and started running to push her and allow her to continue her passion!  WOW!  And Boy was he Fast!  Soon he was in front of me and I was crying!
Coming off the Lakefront  path I got some water and as I looked up I saw a runner in front of me wobble and then fall down...out cold. First responders were there in seconds taking care of her but it was frightening.  As I headed up the final incline and towards the finish line the young woman in front of me tripped and fell on all 4's. I came up next to her and asked if she was ok and she looked at me with tears, "I'm fine" she whimpered and blood spilled from her hands and knees. I took off my water bottle and got out a paper towel and washed her off. She told me she was tired and worried that she was supposed to call her mom when she finished. I told her, "Momma is right here....she sent me" She laughed and we started running together. She told me she would be sure that she and her mom would pray for me, her angel. Well, alrighty then!  I love prayers!
And here it was...the finish line!  I could see it! The last band was cranking and one of the guys came over and handed me the tambourine. I played and danced to "Happy" as I worked towards the finish.
And then I was passed by another young man pushing his girlfriend. She held a sign that said "stronger together" on one side and "I Love him" on the other. As they closed in on the finish line, He stopped and she got out of the chair. She was wearing a large leg brace but she stood up and used the arm of the chair for balance as she walked across the finish line with her man. Again, I was in tears.
A wonderful young man put a medal on my neck, I took a finisher photo and I headed towards the GOTR tent. I was a mess of emotion.
When I reached the tent, I saw out Solemates coordinator and thanked her for the amazing experience. It was amazing!
I didn't get an official chip time. I didn't get a PR. But I got so much more than a medal. I got to help others. I got to encourage others. I got to give back and spread the message of GOTR. I got so much more than a race time. A funny thing happens when I stop caring about time...I find the pace of my heart. Peace.





Monday, July 14, 2014

TRI


Try something new, they said. Step out of your comfort zone, they said. I have always wanted to try a triathlon but with no bike, no helmet and no money to buy these things,  it was out of the question. Indoor triathlons with running on a treadmill did not appeal to me. So when a friend posted about an outdoor tri with no bike needed and it was FREE.....how could I say no?
The Park Ridge Trifecta was Sunday. I was nervous as Saturday I had a 10 mile training run so I didn't know if I would be able to complete the 3 parts of the tri. I told myself that I just wanted to finish and do my best so that was the goal....that and not drowning!
Saturday's training run was not a good one.  10 miles in the rain with a head full of thoughts and feet that felt like lead is not a good experience for any runner. I was feeling defeated so I was worried that I would not do well Sunday.
I woke up and the sun was shining. I took the dogs for a walk and was feeling good. I grabbed my bag, sure that I had forgotten something yet packed things I didn't need, and drove to the race. My 14 year old was with me as she was going to babysit for a friend of mine who was also doing the Trifecta.
Upon our arrival, my friend and I were the first ones there so we were allowed to choose our position as well as event order. We both chose to do the events in the true 'tri' order. Swim, bike, run.
We set up our things on the pool deck and got ready to start. I had gotten some good advice from experienced tri ladies so I felt a little better.
My race 'ticket'

I got in the pool and my lane mate asked if I had goggles. Yup, I had them...in my bag!  I got out and ran to get them on my face just in time!  The whistle blew and we started swimming.  30 minutes to complete as many laps as we could. It took me a while to get my rhythm  but once I did, I remembered how much I used to love swimming. I remembered how at home I used to feel in the water. About 1/2 way through the time, I started to get a little tired but I remembered what a friend had said, Think about Team Hoyt. That man swims putting a boat with his son.....and I was off and swimming again. I alternated between breaststroke and freestyle and soon the whistle blew and I was done! Time for the bike.
Spin bikes were placed on the pool deck so I did not have far to travel. I took off my tankini top as I had my sports bra underneath. I put on the GOTR tank top and pulled on my running shorts over wet bottoms. As I was bending to put on shoes, I was faced with the sight of a full frontal from a nearby older gentleman participant who was changing!! With my eyes burning from that sight, I headed to the spin bikes.
The towel and GOTR water bottle
as reminders of why I do this!

I put my water bottle and towel on the bike and asked for help as to how to work it and the seat height, etc.  Yup....never taken a spin class or been on a spin bike!  So the instructor took us all through a course of hills and valleys to simulate and real ride. We were up and down out of the saddle with speed changes and resistance changes. My feet came out of the clips a few times and I lost my balance a few times but I didn't fall off the bike! I just kept peddling for the 30 minutes logging 10 miles (or so the monitor said!). The whistle blew again and it was time for the run.
I put my towel and water bottle by my bag, pulled on my requisite tutu and left the pool deck for the run. This was the part I thought would be easiest for me. 3.1 miles? Big deal!  Piece of cake, or so I thought. The whistle sounded and I started slow....on foot in front of the other...forward was my pace. Running on tired legs, with a tired body was not so easy. I struggled to find my happy pace on my wobbly legs for the first mile. Once I got out of my own head and was moving forward, I knew I could do it. Running in wet bottoms is not fun but no big deal in the grand scheme of things!  It was hot and the sun strong but it was 'just' 3 miles. I could do it....I knew it. I finished the final 3.1 and went back to the pool deck.
I did it!  I finished all three events!  I didn't drown! I didn't hurt myself on the bike!  I didn't quit! I tried something new and did my best. I stepped outside my box, outside my comfort zone, and found a new part of me. I know that this was not an 'official' tri but it was real enough for me to know that someday I want to complete a 'real' tri.
We all need to do things that scare us once in a while. We all need to get out of the comfort zone and realize we are better, stronger, smarter, than we thought we were before. Sometimes we need a push and sometimes we need someone to hold our hand. This time I had both. And for that...and new adventures...I am forever grateful. Peace.


#tutulady finished GOTR strong!!!
#tritrilady



Moments




Life is a series of moments strung together to make days, weeks, months, years. As I have aged, I have realized that I need to be more awake and aware of these moments, slowing down long enough to savor each one. When my children were small I was so concerned with making it through each day alive, I often missed moments. I feel a great deal of guilt that I was in a hurry for my kids to get somewhere or do something or go to sleep or grow up. Now I want to slow down. I miss my children now that they are growing up and not with me each moment of every day. Time we spend together is precious. During the summer I get the chance to slow down and spend time with my kids.
I love summer for many reasons...longer days, slower pace, relaxed schedules...but what I love most is time with my kids. Summer is a time to reconnect, recharge and relax.  I string together moments with each of my kids making for memories to last me long into the cold days of winter. 
Some of the moments from my summer thus far:
  • Running a race and having a 19year old thank me for helping her finish.
  • Watching my son in a parade 
  • Floating on a raft with the whole family
  • Listening to my kids laugh together
  • watching a sunset while holding hands with my husband
  • Watching fireworks and listening to commentary from all the kids
  • Walking home in the dark with my 16yo holding her hand and listening to her talk about life
  • Sitting in the driveway with my girls and husband while we watched my son put on a fireworks show
  • long walks and running with my pups
  • watching my girls wishes float skyward towards the heavens in the night sky on Chinese Lantern
  • dinner at an outdoor cafe with my 18yo
  • laughing till my stomach hurts with my 16 and 14 year olds
There is a home on my daily dog walk route that has the most beautiful roses. I do 'stop and smell the roses' each time I pass knowing that soon those roses will be gone. The roses are a reminder that life is fleeting and each day I have to slow down and appreciate the moments. This summer slow down and enjoy moments. Life is not perfect but there are moments in each day that make it all worthwhile. String those moments and you have a life that is pretty darn amazing! Peace.

 


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dogs




An open letter to Pet Food, Pet Care, and Advertising companies in general.

It is time we stop glamorizing certain breeds of dogs and demonizing other breeds. Using 'pretty' toy breeds and other 'pretty' purebred dogs in ads only drives the need for puppies of these breeds. This, in turn, drives the puppy mill business. It also drives breeders to charge a hefty fee for these dogs. Pet store purchases as well as purchases from breeders often lead to owners who do not understand what they are getting into in having a pet. Puppies are cute when then are, in fact, puppies but they grow up fast and need care and training. Many families do not understand the demands of pet ownership and act on impulse when in a pet store. When that puppy starts to misbehave and chew and do what puppies do, families look to rehome these pets or deposit them at shelters. 
There are shelters full of wonderful, affectionate, adorable dogs that have been trained, screened and are ready for adoption. These dogs need to take center stage now as they are in need of homes. As the mom of 3 shelter dogs, I can say that they are the best choices my family has ever made. They chose us...we didn't choose them. As I have written before, I am sure who saved who. Saying goodbye to my first fur-ever friend was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The 2 that we have now are a lot of work, especially the puppy who is just over a year old. His training is constant but his love is as well.
 Pedigree Dog Food is leading the way by featuring success stories of adopted shelter dogs. With the help of celebrities like Miranda Lambert,  they are shining additional light on the need for adoptions. Shows like "Pitbulls and Parollees" have also shown the need for good homes for dogs that are abused and neglected. They show how loving and attentive these 'bully breeds'  and other dogs can be if given love and attention. 
Dogs are givers of unconditional love and affection however, dogs are not without commitment and work. They need attention, care and training. Dogs are not 'bad' by nature. They 'feed' on what pleases their owner. It is time to train better owners and empty the shelters by getting these dogs adopted. 
Create campaigns that feature these dogs and the gifts they have to offer. Showcase the dogs waiting for a loving family. Provide opportunities for families to meet these pets. Assist shelters in adoptions as well as training. 
All of this and more can only lead to more families with Fur-Ever family members giving and getting love.
Peace.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

kids



Kids...I have 5 of them. They are all different and all unique. There are people that cringe when I tell them I have 5. They make comments...some not so kid...about my children. When I tell them I have 4 girls and my youngest is my son, well that leads to "Oh so you finally got the boy and stopped." or "kept trying til you got that son, huh?" or any variation of that line.
No, we did not keep trying til we had a son. No, my oldest is not mine by birth but I hate the term STEP.
My oldest daughter, 26, is my daughter. She is my oldest daughter. Like I said, she is not mine by birth but she is mine all the same. I have known about  her and loved her since my very first date with her father. He and I talked about it and I told him what I wanted to name my first child. He told me that that name was taken and if we were to stay together, I would have to choose another name. I knew then that we would be together forever. 26 is my hero. She has been through more in her young life than any human should have to deal with all the while maintaining her strength and courage. She has seen loss, breakups, heartache as well as joy and happiness. It is my privilege to be a part of her life and watch her find a new part of herself. I am blessed to be chosen to be in her life and call her friend. I adore all those things that make her special and I love that she is starting to see those parts of herself as well.
Next is 18. She is my first born and has had her own agenda since she was conceived. She was born early, was not a textbook baby, and was the one to teach me how to be a mother. Over the years I have made many mistakes with her and our relationship has suffered because of it. However, we are both looking to change the future and make things better. She has taught me to be a mom from day one and continues to teach me. She makes me proud every day not only with her work ethic but with her passion for her friends and life. She is a gifted and talented writer...far and above my skill set. She is so beautiful but often fails to see or believe her own beauty. She challenges me and pushes me to be better and for that, I am grateful. For a while it was just her and me against the world and I think she misses that...and so do I. Time alone is precious and we are leaning to carve out time to be with each other. She is more like me than she cares to admit and for that, as well as many other reasons, I love her to pieces.
Third in line is 16, my curly girl. They really broke the mold with this child. She was not a typical pregnancy, was late to be born, and did not want to be born. Once she entered the world, I knew things were going to be different.  She is a beautiful girl both inside and out. Her compassion for people and animals never ceases to amaze me. She can find the one in a million in a crowded room that needs a friend and make them feel like the only person in the world at that moment. People tend to take advantage of her for that and it hurts my heart to see her sad.  She is a stunner to be sure but doesn't take advantage of that quality nor really embrace it...she is who she is and that has to be enough. She has deep faith, an old soul and reminds me of my humanness daily.
My baby girl is 14. She is the last of my girls. She makes a sailor blush with her vocabulary but can make even the most serious person laugh. She is silly and carefree...or so she would like people to believe! She is a fabulous actress. She has a sweet soul and a gentleness that not many people get to see. She rarely gives hugs but when she does....look out!  You have earned it and she will wrap you up in her embrace. Those hugs and that affection comes from a place deep inside. She is a fierce competitor and a fabulous teammate. She has taken full advantage of her status as youngest girl and often gets away with murder at home...and she knows it. She embodies her nickname of "Queenie" and wears it with pride.
Last but not least is the boy, 11. He is my gift from God and that is also what his name means. He was not planned and a complete surprise. A true miracle baby. Oh, and he knows it! He embraces his status as youngest and only boy. He has learned the fine art of smooth talking his sisters as well as annoying them (much to his own pleasure!). He is the first to give an opinion on a boy that the girls date and is most often correct in his character profile of these young men. His sisters do not like to listen to him but realize he is right more often than not.  He is not one to be 'categorized'. He is his own young man with strong opinions and an even stronger temper!  He is my baby boy and will always be my baby boy no matter how big he gets.
I am blessed to be given the honor of raising these children. I yell. I swear. I make mistakes. I am far from a perfect mom. I do my best. Some days they make me angry. Some days they mane me crazy. Some days they make me burst with pride. Some days my heart is so full of love for them I can't express it. Every day I am so happy that my greatest blessings call me mom. Peace.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

shells



Turtles...my favorite of all animals. I especially love sea turtles.  There is something about them that makes me smile. We share a kindred spirit I think.
Yesterday a friend posted the quote in the photo and it really struck a chord with me.
I have never felt at ease in my own shell. I have always tried to be something or someone else. I have always tried to do more and make everyone happy. It was not until recently, ok a few years ago, when I started coaching Girls on the Run that I had to be me. I had to set an example. I had to learn to be at ease in my own shell if I wanted the girls to do the same. Funny thing was that they were already comfortable with who they were. They made no excuses. They lived out loud and had fun and just wanted others to do the same. There were some times when the girls had a bad day here or there but for the most part they all knew that they were different and beautiful and talented...it was only a matter of time before society and the world would change the perception they had of themselves.
I realized that it was up to me to fill their toolbox with all that they would need to fend off these changes. It was up to me to make sure that the girls never lost the belief that they were strong and smart and talented. I grew up not knowing my knowing or owning my gifts and talents. I spent years trying to achieve someone else's vision of beauty.  I spent years being something I was not....being what others thought I should be.
It was not until my 40's that I learned the lessons my girls were learning. Be who you are. Be your own kind of amazing. Be you. I was learning with my girls. I was learning to be at ease in my own shell.
I wrote about envy and body image in a post a few years back and it was good to revisit it. I am so much more at ease in my own shell these days. I am happy with who I am, what I look like, and how I act. I am not perfect nor the most beautiful creature on the planet. But I have a strong shell that protects me. I have a soft inside that is filled with love. I am move forward at my own pace....slow.  I have a long neck that I stick out there for others. I am smart and always return home. I am a survivor and like the turtle, have longevity.
After years of being a chameleon, I have become a turtle.....at ease in my own shell.  Peace.


Monday, June 9, 2014

up




After my encounter yesterday with the woman at the bakery (see previous post), I got to thinking. I thought about what has happened to our society in recent years. Technology has taken over and we have lost a true human connection. We are all looking down and rarely looking up. We do not 'see' each other much any more.
We portray an image on social media that we want others to see. We hide our pain and bury the 'bad things' creating a 'beautiful' person online. The young people of this generation(and many adults) think that this is reality. That people are perfect and without flaw. They feel the pressure to post the perfect 'selfie',  create a viral video, and write a retweetable tweet.
They are too busy living a life to 'post' about rather than really living a life. My children gather together with friends and spend the time not 'being' with each other but texting and snapchatting others about the fun (or lack of) that they are having. Adults do the same thing. Look around any restaurant. Every other person is looking at their device, posting pics of the meal, checking in at the eatery, and texting others about their dining experience (or other things).
I know this because I am soooo guilty of this behavior. I am the first to snap a photo or 'check in' when I am out to eat. I post things in the morning before I start my day and then read posts and tweets throughout the day.
We are all in a hurry too. No one has the time for small talk anymore. We do not make pleasant conversation with cashiers. We do not take the time to express a kind thought to a server. There are times we forget to say thank you or make eye contact with others. We are in a hurry and angry when others delay us on our journey.
Had I been 'checking in', posting, tweeting, snapping .....I would have missed the moment. I would have missed a much needed connection. Had I been in too much of a hurry I would have missed the longing in the eyes of another human being. I would have missed the opportunity to ease the burden on another human being.
I do not want to miss those moments. I want to reconnect with my neighbors and with the people of the planet. This summer see. See the people around you. Look in their eyes and see who they are inside.   This summer, connect. Reconnect with reality this summer and.live. Really live. Not so that you can post about it but so that you create a memory. This summer....look UP!