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

Finishers

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!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

I'm Coming for You!!!

Am I really an exercise bully? I don't think so. I just invite people to join me on various athletic adventures and then use some of the following expressions to be convincing: come on, you know you want to, if I can do it you can too, it's only 150 miles, it will be tons of fun, you must not like me, and if all else fails I cry!

At least that is how it has been explained to me a couple of times. I don't believe it!!!

So, this past week, as I was coming down from my amazing adventure with my sisters and my awesome friend, I found myself lazing on the couch, well actually the hotel room bed, and then the couch. ALL WEEK!!! And you know what? It was kind of nice, especially this weekend. I was able to wake up in the morning and do whatever I felt like doing without regard to a training schedule. It was freeing!!! Until it wasn't...

On Saturday I woke up and finished making some soup and stew, made some deliveries and then went and bought a big kid bed for my guest bedroom. And then today, I spent my time with two of my friends, first at a barn sale with one friend, and then at an ice cream parlor and on the couch with the other. It was so nice to have that time with no agenda, and I want to make sure I'm better at making one of my weekend days exercise free, notice I did not say agenda free!

Now with all that being said, I also found myself planning out my 2018 exercise plan. A few weeks ago I announced that I will do another half ironman, and then I officially invited people to participate in a 2018 Rock & Roll MS ride in Memphis. Let's just say that although I spent my week in a lazy state, my mind was still exercising its' right to plan!

Don't be surprised if you are the recipient of my convincing ways in the near future...

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bavarian Breakaway - A Weekend of Fun!

I'm gonna win!!!
#BikeJoy
#BikeMS
#MS150
#Ohmybunion

All of these are random hashtags that can be seen on my, and my teammates, social media accounts
My team!!! Rockin their tie-dye
from this weekend. Why you may ask? Well most of my readers know why... My small but mighty team of 4 rode a collective total of 600 miles on our bicycles this weekend, to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis.

Not only did the four of us ride, we also had a small but mighty team of supporters who came along to be there to provide support, hugs, diet coke, laughs, stories, sweaters, more laughs and love along the way. Our cheering section showed up with their tie-dyed shirts and waved the figurative flag for team Ridin' for Myelin! It was fantastic to see the smiling faces as we approached rest stops at the top of hills, when our bikes were broken, or when we just needed a high five or a hug!

To add to all of that awesomeness, because of all of YOU supporters, to date, we have raised $6,510 to fund Multiple Sclerosis research!!! How cool is that?


Hay Bail Art
And then there were all of the new friends that we made along the way. The Bavarian Breakaway was hands down the friendliest of events I have ever participated in. The staff, volunteers and other riders were amazing, so much so, one volunteer loaned me his bike seat for the day when mine suddenly cracked. Our cheerleaders made friends with the volunteers, my team made friends with other riders, and people remembered us along the course. It might be that our team was comprised of the most hilarious and appealing members, or it could have been our antics along the way (almost causing collisions so that we could take photos of wild turkeys, stopping on the road to examine roadkill, taking aspirin breaks, or taking the alternate route that may have added additional miles to the ride)... Regardless, I will always remember the couple we spent a lot of time with at rest stops, and that solo dude who was riding what appeared to be a mountain bike on a sometimes demanding hilly course (to us flatlanders) who we were happy to have join us for dinner to celebrate the ride!

With all of that said, I think the one thing that made this weekend epic was that I got to spend it with many of the leading ladies in my life!

"I was driving down the road one day...
Someone hit a possum - BAM
The road was his end...
His end was the road...
So they say!!!"
PROOF!!!
There are so many stories to tell ranging in topic from the expletive forest, the hammock saddle, roadkill art, shortcut girl, beef jerky, pasta pizza, razor misuse, snoring, mohawks, heat activated beads, broken hotel doors, Christmas stores, and on...


But my most important takeaways from this weekend include: Comma splices still don't make sense, my sisters are both fiercely protective, my best buddy can endure tremendous pain, I will still need to rewrite paragraphs to avoid using the words affect and effect, hay bales are for a lot more than king of the farm games, roadkill can look artful, and I have the best supporters around.

The Finish Line!
And here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure... Enjoy!!!


Toasting with hohos...

Town sign.

Accidental selfie. 

A big ole thank you to my donors!

Another town selfie. 


Believe it... All for Janell and Sue's pleasure...

Only missing two in this photo.