Sunday, July 22, 2018

From Thinking to Doing

A Cloudy Day in Wisconsin

Last you heard from me on this blog I lived in Ohio. In the last year I left my people in Ohio to start a new adventure in Wisconsin. I love Wisconsin, I love my job, I love my life but I desperately miss my Ohio people.

So where to start? Well, I think it important to reflect on the last 9 months so you can understand my journey back to the blog. Last year I was training for the Chicago Marathon and I was travelling a ton leading up to the Marathon. I was fortunate to be in DC because my sister was willing to do a lot of my training with me. The week before the marathon I had very significant symptoms of a gallbladder attack and my doctor told me I was alright to go for it, run the marathon. As I was walking out the door to drive to Chicago for the marathon I received a phone call offering me this job in Wisconsin. Let's just say it was an interesting drive that started out with me saying there was NO way I was going to take the job, to half way through the drive calling my new supervisor to accept the position. I am not going to unpack all of that story here, but I do have to say I'm glad I came, but am sorry for some of the missteps I made along the way to get here.

Anyway, in regards to the marathon, I crossed the finish line to some of the best supporters. Unfortunately, it was a hot day, and although I got a medal and crossed the finish line before they shut it down, my time was still too slow to be an official finisher.

Then came Thanksgiving, about 9 day prior to starting my new job in Wisconsin gallbladder pain struck again, so bad that I went to the emergency room. They admitted me, kept me overnight and then sent me home to pack my house and head to Wisconsin. I got to Wisconsin, started my job, loved everything about where I was living, went to the emergency room TWICE for my pain and eventually found a doctor who advised me to have the darn thing removed. That is just what I did...

I felt great, until I didn't. Again, I don't want to unpack this whole story here, but let's just say I had a nice ambulance ride to the hospital, was admitted, and made myself at home with IVs and heart monitors all around. My godmother stayed with me until my sister showed up. My sister stayed in the hospital with me and then finally took me home. We decided to go house hunting with my realtor the day after I got out of the hospital and I was suddenly in contract for my charming little house.

So many little stories to tell along the way, but I basically spent four full months on the couch because I wasn't allowed to do any major activity. Many pounds gained, registered for an MS ride, and scared to do anything physical. I have had to fight with myself to exercise...

I remember when I was first getting involved in working out and how hard that was. It was like pulling teeth to get myself to do anything. I would think about everything... Who is watching, how far do I have to run, am I physically able to do this, is it safe, etc. And then suddenly I was just doing it. I wasn't thinking about it, but instead getting home, putting on my clothes and walking out the door because it felt so good.

I also remember when I was first diagnosed with MS and I wrote something about enjoying the sidelines. My sister called or texted to tell me she was concerned about me and that I needed to remember I could still run and do other physical activities. I remember this call and have stored it in my memory knowing I would recall the conversation when I needed it.

Here I am, needing it...
Over the past nine months I have shifted from a doer to a thinker...

I have unpacked that memory with my sister and realized that I have a choice, and I choose to return to my life as a doer. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

On Traveling and Training

It's hard... The end...

No seriously, traveling and training equals extremely tough combination, but somehow I'm managing. You know what else is tough? One hundred plus degree heat index is tough as well, but managing that is somehow easier for me. It simply means accept 20 minute per mile trots with random ultra-marathoners on the trail. So what is in this traveling thing that makes it so difficult? Work, unfamiliar trails, exhaustion, unfamiliar territory and then navigating it all.

I have found myself going back to my hotel, laying across my bed for a little bit and then strapping on my shoes to escape from technology for awhile.

I think what I am learning though is that when traveling, motivation is harder to find and self discipline is so much more important.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Please, Do NOT Call an Ambulance...

I have decided it has been too long. Now that I am several weeks into marathon training it is time to come back to the blog. I love being able to go back to my last marathon training cycle and read about the ups and downs, and quite honestly, I'm looking forward to being able to come back to this training cycle when I train for another marathon.

I have to say that this cycle has been trying for me as my abilities have changed over the years. It isn't better or worse, as I'm fairly certain the last marathon I trained for had trying times as well. I will say this is different because of how my participation in events and running clubs impact other people.

I am constantly saying to people who join new programs or try new things that regardless of their journey to that 'event', they belong there. I live by this and believe it is true. If you joining a new club, or trying something new, or trying something again, regardless of your abilities and skills you DO belong and should feel welcome. Here is the thing, the feeling welcome part is difficult because it is 50% your responsibility to feel welcome, and 50% other people's responsibility to help you feel welcome. This is where I am struggling these days...

My participation in races has been fairly sparse this year. I did the Pi day 5k, the Soldier Field 10 miler, the Pride 5k, and the Clintonville 4 on the 4th. Each of these races have special meaning for me:

  • Pi day 5k was done side by side with the two most important ladies in my life...
  • Soldier Field 10 miler was once again completed with the unwavering support and 'catch' from my big sister, who I greatly admire...
  • Pride 5k which I did with a friend I haven't raced with in YEARS...
  • Clintonville 4 on the 4th which is the first race I was willing to toe the line of alone, since I have been diagnosed with MS...

Although I am blessed to have had these four experiences, I find myself struggling with the sense of belonging at these events, and even at my running club, and I'm in the process of exploring where the responsibility lies. I also want to acknowledge that I will absolutely accept the responsibility if I find it is my own, but if I'm being honest with myself, I do believe it is a shared responsibility. You see, fellow runners, everyone should feel like they are welcome and belong. I know some people disagree, but I promise that I will embrace every person who wants to experience the thrill of a race, regardless of their ability.

Reflecting on my job during high school, it is hugely ironic that I spent a lot of time helping people with physical and developmental disabilities with recreational, and sporting activities. I spent time teaching swim lessons, coaching softball, coaching track, and simply hanging out on Navy Pier on a Friday night, bowling, gardening, you name it, we did it!!! The true irony though is that many of the people I worked with during recreational swimming or on Friday nights had Multiple Sclerosis. I've come full circle perhaps? What I learned from all of the amazing people I worked with during those days is that everyone should have the ability to participate in anything regardless of ability.

This is where my sense of belonging has been challenged in the running community. If you have ever seen me post run, you may have been worried about me... One notable moment that still grates at me was after the Pride 5k. The brilliance of this event is that it was designed to be one of acceptance of all individuals. I guess that some people forgot that at the end of the race. The day was 93 degrees, the race was at 6:00 in the evening and I was hot as hell. Like many people on the course I struggled the whole way, running down the hills and feeling like the only way up the hills was by way of crawling. I managed to finish the race, and was thankful that my friend was there for me at the finish line. She helped me stumble to a comfy place in the grass and went into 'find Sarah something cold mode'... And that she did...

Where the night gets frustrating for me was when I landed not so graciously in the grass and one of the women behind me started asking me if I was OK. I knew that I would be just fine in a little bit, and rather than tell my life story in the moment I simply said to the woman that this was typical and I just needed to cool off and I'd be fine. She scoffed... Another woman was kind and offered up her towel so I could cool down. The original woman said, 'this is typical? kind of dramatic don't you think?' At this point I was pissed... Seriously??? What happened to acceptance and decency. I didn't know how to respond and so I made some flippant comment about how I have MS, and I wish I didn't have it so that I wouldn't have dramatic conclusions to runs.

Since then I have been gun shy. It took everything in me to sign up for the 4 miler, knowing I would be doing the race alone... At my run club, which I typically love, I find myself feeling apologetic about my being there. And I sometimes feel as though my presence is bothersome to other people. Is this perceived? I truly hope so...

I honestly would rather this be my issue, but the only way I can figure that out is by continuing to show up and show people that I too belong. By doing that, I think I will begin to believe it again.

I just ask one thing folks... If you see me stumbling after a run, feel free to treat me like you would any other runner, but please do NOT call an ambulance...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Great Return

Picture from my first marathon!
It has been quite some time since I have opened up my computer to write a post, and it is officially time to get back to it. What I have learned during my three month hiatus is that I am much more consistent with my exercise routine when I am actively blogging. Now is the time to become more accountable again, accountable to myself!

So, where did we leave off back in November?

I just had the most fantastic Auntie Sarah Gobble Gobble Home Grown 5k. This event was fantastic, with just over 33 people participating or cheering on the crowd. It was so phenomenal that I have already set up the Facebook event for the 3rd annual event to be held Thanksgiving morning in 2017.

In addition, I have been working on becoming consistent with my Chicago Marathon training. Some would say the weather has been perfect for said training, and I can't dispute that fact. What I will say is that my attitude has waned a bit. My bestie and running buddy always has significant obligations that make it difficult for her to run the first few months of the year. My other running buddy has kiddos, which make her schedule fluctuate a bit.

Where am I now?

Well, what you likely read above is that I have been a slacker, and I'm trying to push the blame to my people, however, that shouldn't mean anything. What should really motivate me is showing up for myself, and myself alone. Of course, because I use the word should, that means I haven't been doing it as consistently as I would like.

Where the heck am I going then?

I'm at some crossroads, and I know for certain that I am going to take the journey down the road that leads to the Chicago marathon... Rather than running three days a week, whatever distance feels good, I'm headed straight to my pal Hal Higdon's training schedules to guide my efforts.

I have to say, some motivation for me has been watching my good friend Solitare train for her first 5k. It is so fun watching someone work toward achieving their new goal. With that said, Sue and I will be running Solitare's first 5k with her in March!!!

What all of this means is I will intentionally work towards the Chicago Marathon by setting weekly goals every Sunday night. The goals are intended to make me accountable and define what is to come. I will return to my weekly stories of my marathon journey, and invite you to come along for the ride!

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Second Annual - Auntie Sarah's Incredible Gobble Gobble Home Grown 5k

The Runners
For a second year in a row, my friends and family toed the line of our own personal turkey trot. The reason I started this 5k, one year ago, was to give everyone the ability to go to the same spot and get their exercise on Thanksgiving morning. It used to be that many of us participated in various 5ks around the Chicago area, but in large masses of people we didn't know, and were lucky if we actually ran into people we knew at the end. It also used to be that we all paid approximately fifty bucks a piece to participate in said races. I finally said NO MORE! Let's do something fun that wouldn't require huge entry fees, and would be all inclusive.

Last year there were approximately 15 of us who came out to walk, run or spectate. I thought that was hugely successful. What happened this year? We doubled in size and 34 of my family and friends came out to have fun on Thanksgiving morning.

Also, new this year, we had a food drive. It just so happens that all of us participating in our friend and family 5k are very fortunate. None of us need for anything, and so I asked folks to donate food, if they were willing. I collected a small lot of food, and have delivered it to a food pantry for distribution. Albeit a small donation, it was a much appreciated donation.

So, what did this race net participants? Hugs galore, friendly faces, donuts, muffins, coffee, water (on course), and the best homemade 'medals' a person could ask for (I'm biased, I made them all).

So, if you find yourself in the Chicago land area in 2017, please consider the third annual Aunti Sarah's Incredible Gobble Gobble Home Grown 5k.

Here are some pictures from the hugely successful day!
The Medals

Some Little People Finishing

Finish Line


Some Family!!!
The Turkey
The other Turkey

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What is Resilience?

This, my friends, is resilience...
I've lost my blogging way the past month, actually the past year. The events that have taken place since I've last blogged have been somewhat surprising. Most notably, unless your head is in the sand, you have heard, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, and I registered for my second marathon. And you know what? The world is still revolving.

Am I happy about all of the most current events? Nope, but this is what I posted to my parents:
To mom and dad: Thank you for raising me to be a thoughtful, kind hearted, loving person. The past 24 hours have knocked the wind out of my sails, more so than being diagnosed with ms. Because of you, I will practice resilience. Just pray that the affordable Care act is not fully obliterated. But that too will work itself out... To the best parents who have always given me the best, taught me the best, modeled the best, I love you and am thankful for the moral compass you instilled in me...
I want to sit with the most important word in that post to my parents: RESILIENCE!!! One of the things us athletes know is that set backs are part of the environment. The set backs are not what define us, but rather the response to the set backs. I was having a conversation with a friend in recent days about how I can get stuck from time to time, even run away, and that is not what I want to be known for. Go back and look at my post about the hard thing rule... Running away is not allowed. 

So how does our good friend google define resilience? The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. 

There are some things in life that shave away at the lining of our toughness, but that doesn't mean we should hold back. I have encountered a number of things that have thinned my toughness skin, but I refuse to give up, as I'd rather be a bit weak and ask for help, than so callused that I don't try anything new. 

With that being said, I'm freaked out by this marathon I signed up for, and I am guessing that I am going to hit speed bumps through the year of training, but what I do know is that every speed bump will color my journey, and resilience will be one of my hard thing rules...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Avoid the Crisis

I have yet to master the art form of asking for help. Instead it goes something like this...

I'm working on something and it gets hard, so I set it down. I realize I need to keep working on it and so I go and look at it for a little bit, decide I'll get a small chunk done but the attempt at the small chunk falls flat, so I walk away again, maybe even after setting my tools down harshly. I try to forget about it for awhile and lose some sleep but can't figure out why (or should I say, won't face why). The project continues to sit and all the tools and resources needed to get the job done slowly get put away, or more accurately lost. I eventually just forget that it was even something I was working on, until out of nowhere it is right in front of my face again, no warning and instead of being just something I was working on, it is now a crisis.

If only I had asked for help in the beginning, when it first presented itself as hard, right?

Thinking back on my early days of athleticism, I remember when I would 'train' for a sprint triathlon and would find myself 12 weeks out from the race. What would I do in those circumstances? I would dive into training that first week and go for one run, and a swim; forget the bike because it was too cold! And it was always hard, so I would sit back down on the couch and remind myself that I still had 11 weeks and I would be fine and say to myself, "I'll get started with the training next week". Next week would come and I would have the same conversation with myself recognizing I had 10 weeks, and so on and so forth. And then two weeks before the race, crisis mode would set in and I would 'cram' for the event.

While this training strategy works for some, it certainly doesn't work for me. If only I asked for help in the beginning, like a training buddy? Those days would have been so much easier. Now I have some solid training buddies so it makes things a lot easier...

But let's take a step back and look at why one might not ask for help. Is it because they tried, but didn't get it? Is it because they are scared of being found incompetent? Is it because they don't want the world to know they aren't strong?

I don't know the answer to any of these questions, but I do know they are questions to be explored because until I figure out the best way to ask, I will continue to create awkward personal crisis that could have been averted by just saying, hey I need some help!