Sunday, December 18, 2011

Back to the Basics

When I first started running seriously a year and a half ago, I did so with the intention of getting myself triathlon ready.  I enjoy running so much because it has enhanced my life and will forever be a five day a week activity for me not only because of the health benefits but also because it keeps me sane. I do have to  admit that I also think I love running simply because I have semi-irrational fears and I am lazy. OK, so I know how ridiculous this sounds considering I ran a marathon but stick with me here...

Running is simple; buy some running shoes that work, put them on and put one foot in front of the other.

Cycling and swimming? Not quite as simple, in my mind at least.

If I want to go out for a ride there are so many steps involved (this is where lazy comes into play). First of all I have to have a functioning bike and if you know me, I like to fix my bike myself which often involves duct tape and butter knives, rather than multi-tools and grip tape. Also, I have to have the proper shoes, helmet, bike shorts, a good bike jersey, spare tube, riding gloves, bike pump, camel back and coordination. I have a fear of riding on the road so I have to have a car that will carry my bike to a trail. AND because I have the best pup in the world, who very much loves field trips, it helps to have a bike trailer (which I have successfully procured).

Hopefully, you can see where I am going with this...

If I want to go for a good swim I need a pool or lake, swimming suit, goggles, swim cap, towel and a workout in mind. This also involves a drive to a gym or lake and because safety is important I prefer going with a buddy or when a life guard is on duty. Oh and did I mention a wet-suit is a must for open water swims? OK, so not a must but because I like the buoyancy and the warmth I think they are the way to go!

I love the idea of multi-sport events but I am not a fan  of all of the coordination. I sometimes wonder if my lack of success with multi-sport training was in part due to my inability to have all of the correct pieces in the right place at the right time. I have successfully completed a number of sprint triathlons but feel as though I have the capacity for more.

Well, because I made a commitment to myself I believe it is now time to take the leap and get back to a little multi-sporting (not sure that is a word but it works) this winter and see how it goes. I was able to train for a 50 mile ride AND a marathon this past year so I think it is time to give it a tri (go ahead, roll your eyes)!!!

So, this is just building on my goals from last week. I am going to become a faster runner, run the Chicago Marathon and find a triathlon for the summer! Think I can do it? I do...

I am now taking triathlon suggestions. If you know of any good (cheap) events in the midwest in June, let me know!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Setting New Goals!

I had many people send me comments regarding my post last week. Thank you for your thoughts and comments!!! I want to let you all know that although I talked about failure last week I was not saying that I am a failure; I was simply acknowledging that I am not going to achieve a goal I set for myself. Although I find the positive in everything I can tell you that failing to achieve my mileage goal for November and December is a huge bummer! On the other hand I actually am happy that I recognized my limitations due to a nagging injury that seems to be pretty close to healed; I am also happy because I feel like I have been brought back to the basics regarding why I fell in love with running in the first place.

Running provides me an outlet to relax and unwind. It reminds me to live my life in a carefree, youthful way. Some people have told me that I have become obsessed with running and I prefer to call it a passion (thank you Chris for that one). The reality is that if something allows you to enjoy your life more thoroughly you should embrace it!

I am extremely glad that I was introduced to the quote I used last week because it is so true. In life we fail at things. We fail at our jobs, our running goals, we simply fail; we have to fail to learn to appreciate what we have. There is nothing wrong with failure as long as we try again!

Rather than wallow in my failure I am going to set some new running goals for myself! I am not setting any mileage goals because I need to focus on my body, instead I am setting some time goals for myself. First I am going to try and run with the 12 minute pace group at MIT this year. Today I ran with the 12 minute pacers at the Holiday Run in Westerville and it felt great! Why not try it out and see what happens? Second, I am going to start doing some speed work with one of my MIT buddies on Wednesday nights. I ran one of my fastest sustained five mile runs this week and I figure I should capitalize on the momentum. Third, I am going to shoot for a sub 11:30 5k pace at all of my future 5k races, unless of course I am sharing the joy of running with a new running friend who simply wants to cross the finish line. Come run with me!

Because running makes me feel like a little kid I figured I'd post a cover of Bob Dylan's 'Forever Young'. Who knew Swell Season covered this goodie:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

I have been focusing on running for about a year and a half. Pre-running days I was a 'triathlete' who didn't ever really run except for the few weeks leading up to the triathlon and I always somehow managed to finish. I always knew, as a triathlete, that at some point I would get a flat tire on the course, hurt myself on the run or get in over my head during a difficult swim. I did triathlons for years with no incident until 2010. I was participating in the south shore sprint triathlon in Chicago with my sister and a couple of other friends. I was on track for having quite possibly the best event of my life and I blew a flat tire. I did not have the equipment on the course to change my tire so had to helplessly wait for the SAG vehicle to pick me up and then stand at the finish line watching my friends successfully complete the race.

Since I have been running (which you all know is my favorite sport) I have set many goals for myself and have achieved them all. My first goal was to finish a half marathon last year, then PR a 5k, a 10k on a trail, another half marathon and then the full marathon. I asked my friends to encourage me to continue running after the marathon, what I didn't know was that I was not going to need their encouragement. I fell in love with the sport and can not imagine my life without it, or can I?

Because I do best with some type of goal in mind and there were not any events that I was particularly excited about post marathon (with the exception of the Buckeye Classic and the Columbus Turkey Trot) I instead set my sights on a distance goal for November and December. I was simply tying myself over until I start training for my next marathon. I boldly started telling people I was going to run 250 miles during these two months. It seemed attainable at the time. I had just watched my friend finish his first marathon and the excitement around that event reminded me that an average of 4 miles a day (or more accurately 35 miles a week) is a piece of cake!

Well my piece of cake isn't tasting so good right now. I was struggling with getting the mileage needed to attain this goal. I am not sure if my body was simply not ready for the pre-marathon mileage again or if I was just psyching myself out. In November I ran 100 miles and peaked at 27 miles a week. This was NEVER going to allow me to achieve my goal. This week I have only run 13 miles (hopefully this will change today) due to the strangest ankle problem that pops up about once a year. I have no clue what this problem is, what causes it or how to treat it except by resting. I am learning again what life is like without running and I can tell you it is not fun!

So what an I am saying? For the first time since I started really running I am not going to achieve a goal that I set for myself. I am simply going to fail. I am grappling for reasons why, so much so that I have been blaming it on mercury retrograde, the change in the weather, etc. The reality is we all fail sometimes, I am simply proud of the fact that I tried! I need to remember the quote someone once shared with me: "Try again. Fail again. Fail better." -Samuel Beckett

Yes I had to go there, I just can't help myself. Rather than posting a picture or a song about failure I am going to leave you with a cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing":

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Run for My Life!

I had the good fortune of seeing many wonderful people this past weekend. It was amazing to hear all of the good will people offered me as it was the first time many of these folks had seen me since I ran the marathon. I was also blessed with a few emails from friends who have decided to pick up running and have told me they are inspired by me and my persistence.

Here is what I have to say regarding all of the amazing thoughts that people have shared with me over the last weekend. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

In all honesty I do not feel like an inspiration I do what I do because I want to improve my quality of life; I want to live. What do I mean you may ask? Well, I want to have a long life of many hikes, camping trips, music festivals, road trips, visits with my friends/family, and the list goes on... I realize that I have very little control over when I am going to die but as long as I am alive I am going to live my life to the very fullest, which includes logging an hour or more of running a day to keep me somewhat healthy (actually I should say sane). Who knows, maybe running will prolong my life and allow me to jump out of the airplane when I am 80 (ask me about this if you are interested), hike the AT when I am 85, ski St. Mary's glacier when I am 90...

The real point is I am going to take advantage of every moment, embrace every opportunity and enjoy life.

I was listening to my good friend Michael Franti as I was driving back from Chicago on Sunday and some of his lyrics really struck cord with me:

So if you love somebody better tell them so
'Cause you never ever, ever know when they gonna go

I love music because we all get to interpret the lyrics as we see fit. I believe this song, "Life in the City", is about taking advantage of every opportunity, in a somewhat backwards kind of way. Regardless running provides me the tools of taking advantage of every opportunity.

For your listening pleasure:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Addicted? Perhaps.

I was supposed to run tonight after babysitting the cutest little man in Columbus, but due to timing I have been forced to relax instead. Getting back into running after a marathon varies from person to person. Some folks jump in immediately and are able to heal quickly, while others may take a few weeks or even a few months to fully recover from a marathon.

Over the last week I have been trying to build my mileage back up to pre-marathon weekly mileage. I have not been fully successful but I am getting there! I have started writing a training plan but have become more inspired by running for the sake of running rather than having a true plan. Don't get me wrong, I am trying to achieve 250 miles for November and December (I am likely to fail as I will probably only hit 110 miles in November) and that is a plan, however I like to just go out and see where my feet take me.

Tonight as I sit in my 'grampa' chair, listening to music, reading and writing I have discovered that the simple act of running has turned into a need, some might even say an addiction, based on the constant shaking of my foot and the plotting of my run between work, dinner plans with one friend and movie or euchre plans with other friends tomorrow night. I feel as though my day is incomplete without running.

Here is a short little poem about running (yes this means my subject matter for the week was weak):

Some days I wake up and look at the sun
Immediately I wonder, when I can run
Other days I wake up and look at the rain
Instead of being discouraged I get ready to train

When I wake up and feel uninspired
I turn on loud music until I feel fired (up)
Dukie has a tendency to wake me up early
I put on my shoes instead of getting burly

No matter the day no matter the weather
Running will always make me feel better

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Humbled by Running

I realized today that there are a number of words I use on a semi-daily basis that I don't even know the true meaning of (wow ending sentences in prepositions, today is not a good writing day). Because I am a word of the dayer I feel like I have a somewhat adequate and intelligent vocabulary but when I realize I don't know the literal definition of, say, the word humble I need to educate myself so I don't sound ridiculous! solved this problem and provided me with a definition of humble (I should mention that I might still sound ridiculous even though I looked up the definition, but I'm OK with that.). Here is what I learned:

Humbled means:
not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble althoughsuccessful.
having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience,etc.: In the presence of so many world-famous writers I feltvery humble.
low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly: ofhumble origin; a humble home.
courteously respectful: In my humble opinion you are wrong.
low in height, level, etc.; small in size: a humble member ofthe galaxy.

to lower in condition, importance, or dignity; abase.
to destroy the independence, power, or will of.
to make meek: to humble one's heart.

So I realized this weekend sometimes the things we love the most (running) are also the things that humble us the most. Take my Buckeye Classic 10k for example. As you all know I LOVE running. It brings me peace and serenity during even the most difficult days, but that 10k kicked my butt and sort of made me wonder if I can even call myself a runner. Now before you continue reading you must know that I ran a FREAKING marathon just one month ago. Humbled? Yep, I'd say so...

As I sit here recovering from a 10k I can't help but think I need to remember the activity that made me feel less significant, lowered my condition and made me feel meek is also the thing that holds me up. I am the type of person who used to be beat down when something proves more challenging than I initially anticipated but I have also realized that sticking to those same activities can provide me the stability needed to conquer my fears, insecurities, etc. So as I sit here wondering if I am actually a runner, I recognize I need to strap on my running shoes and continue to lean on and trust what kicked my butt on Sunday rather than abandon it because eventually it will make me an even greater person. I am going to embrace and welcome running back into my life, even after Sunday, because my potential with running is that much greater than my potential without it!

Take that Buckeye Classic 10k!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lessons From the Sidelines

Experiencing a marathon from the sidelines is very different than running one yourself. I had the pleasure of spectating my second marathon ever yesterday in Elyria, Ohio. Because I am a very reflective person I stood on the sidelines of my favorite person's marathon reflecting on his success and how I can learn from his success.

For starters, nothing in life is easy; neither is crossing the finish line of a marathon. The result we get when we cross the finish line is very reflective of the work we put in to getting there. Sound dramatic? Perhaps, but the reality is  that statement is so very true. Think about it, if your goal is learning to play puff the magic dragon on your guitar by Christmas but you only pick up your guitar to tune it from time to time, you should not expect to play puff the magic dragon any time soon!

So as I was watching this incredible individual achieve his goal all I could think is we all need to try harder, play harder, practice harder and believe in ourselves and the people around us. This week, and yes it has only begun, I have learned a lot about trust and commitment... If you want to achieve a goal you need to commit to it, do the work and trust the process!

Damn it, I am going to learn how to play Puff the Magic Dragon by Christmas!!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pre Marathon Jitters to Post Marathon Blues

Some of the runners I love (my sister is missing)
If you love a runner, you will understand what I am about to talk about here. The people I am closest too have told me that I have had particularly cranky days leading up to the marathon AND I was told that I have lost a bit of my optimism over the last couple of weeks. I think I can, almost, safely say that I am in a better place today but I still feel it is necessary to address the topic!

Pre-marathon can be a particularly hard time for a runner. I think I mentioned this challenge in my post Truth About Tapering post. First of all, runners have to decrease their mileage pre-marathon and on top of it fuel their body properly. The decrease in mileage for some of us can drive us crazy, not to mention feeling like a sloth as the carbo-loading ensues. It is necessary though. I was particularly lucky to be spending time with the coolest kiddos the weekend before my marathon but any time I was not with them I may have been found shaking my leg and participating in particularly annoying active listening (I was told today that I do this when I am frustrated) with a lot of 'uh hmms' and 'yeps'. The people who practice patience with a runner while tapering are quite possibly the most amazing people. I was the type of person that, even though I may have been a little cranky, wanted to be around people to decompress the entire time. Others may retreat into themselves. Neither tactic is bad so long as the people around the runner understand it is not because of them but instead about the pressure, nerves, anxiety, etc. leading up to the race.

On the other hand, after the marathon is over a runner may struggle with any number of emotions. Again runners are not supposed to run for about a week after the marathon, especially if you are a newbie like me. Well, I did not follow that rule and may have injured myself as a result (I am better now though). Even though a huge accomplishment may have been realized there could be thoughts of 'how do I fill my time now', 'what is next', 'I hate running', 'is there anything more extraordinary or did I already reach my peak'. I had some of these thoughts with the exception of 'I hate running', and as someone put it best today, I lost my optimism. Post-Marathon depression is a real thing! I read one article, although I felt as though it was over dramatic,  that equated post marathon depression to post partum (sp?) depression. If I could find the article again I would link it here, maybe it was just a dream. Regardless after accomplishing a significant goal there can be moments of elation (which I know I felt for a few days) that can quickly fade and turn to sadness when the return to running is less stellar than expected. Again, the people who stick with the runner during this time are the most amazing people. If your runner is suffering after their marathon remind them that it can take weeks, even months, to fully heal. Remind them that they accomplished something extraordinary and should be proud. Tell them to sign up for their next marathon, and if they don't snap out of it appropriately tell them to go and see a freaking therapist; no one should stay in that state for too long!!!

So again, I find this post leaning towards the lens of extreme gratitude. It is because of the people who know and love me that I was allowed to be cranky, super un-optimistic and in some instances a baby! They are the people who have reminded me to stick with it because at some point it will all get better. AND guess what? It did! Today I had my first extraordinary post marathon run!!!

So for all you people who love a runner, national hug a runner day is coming up. November 20th is the day that you need to grab your favorite runner in a bear hug and tell them you love them!!! Being a person that loves a runner can be a challenge but you are a good person for keeping that person close to you!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Self Reflection

I am sitting here thinking about what I got myself into signing up for this lil' marathon I am going to run in four days. Many of you have been following me since the beginning of this journey, while others are newer to the scene but none are less important than the other.

If you know me at all, you know I spend a lot of time self reflecting and as I was sitting on my couch relaxing for the last five minutes I figured it would be nice to catch some of this self reflection (or perhaps I should call it a reflection on my journey) on my blog. I try not to get to personal on here because let's face it, this is about my journey to becoming an athlete NOT about my personal life beyond running/cycling/swimming; and I would kind of like to keep it that way. On the other hand there are a number of things I have learned about myself that I feel are tied into this amazing journey that I know is going to continue beyond the finish line on Sunday.

Here are my lessons:

Finding the Unexpected

I have learned that the things I love most are the things that have come in the most unexpected moments or are the things that I had to work at to find success. Take running for example; it is not something that came easy to me. I used to fret over one mile runs and now I get excited about anything less than 13 miles because, let's face it, 13 miles or less is considered a short run in my sick little mind. I never expected that I would fall in love with running especially because I wasn't looking for the love of running; what I was looking for was a jumping off point for my future goal of completing a half iron man. What does this mean in the long run? It means I am going to embrace running and continue on this journey; I am going to embrace the moment and love the moment. I am also going to continue to hold close the unexpected joys that have fallen into my life!

Training properly

People have varying ideas regarding proper training plans for endurance sports. My training plans, historically, have consisted of me having 'oh shit' moments when I recognize the event is four weeks away and I have only logged 10 miles on my bike, 1 mile in the pool and 4 miles on foot over the last YEAR!!! This year I approached training for the marathon very differently. I joined a group, read the schedule, followed the schedule and most importantly listened to my body. I know people who don't need training plans and have the personal discipline to achieve their goals on their own. I congratulate them and, in some regards, have a little training envy of them. The lesson though is that, although I am freaked out about the marathon, I also know I have put in the miles (hundreds of them) and have been holding myself accountable for achieving my dream.

Loving Yourself

I am a very happy person generally; I am also realistic. I would say that I spend most of my days smiling and exuding positivity but being happy and loving yourself are very different things. When you embark on a journey not knowing what might transpire, you are truly taking a risk. Self reflection is a risk and every time I run I am self reflecting. What I have found in every mile logged is that I have a deeper love for myself. I think the risk was worth it because it allows me the ability to love things/others without limit.

So to be truly honest I have not figured out why I took the time to write this blog today except to remind myself to hold on to and not be scared of the things that have enhanced my life.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Truth About Tapering

First I have to say tapering sucks!!!

I have promised honesty while on this journey and I would be a big ole liar if I said I enjoy this low mileage stuff leading up to the marathon. A number of factors have impacted my training this week but one of the biggest factors is my brain. I have read the most recent article in Runner's World Magazine about tapering and it provided great recommendations on tapering properly; they are the experts, why oh why don't I believe them.

As I sit here watching some terrible movie on the Lifetime network (the number 3 reason for getting rid of cable at my house) my mind continuously drifts to the impending marathon. Here are some of my thoughts:

- If I don't run big mileage this week, how can I be sure I can finish 26.2 miles?
- If most of my runs were challenging and demotivating last week will I still have the positive attitude to complete 26.2?
- One of the motivational people in my life ran her marathon today, will I have the same success?
- Thank god I was not like the girls in this lifetime movie while in high school (or ever for that matter)!!!
- Will I have the discipline to take care of my mind, body and soul this week, including getting enough sleep?

Tapering, for me, is a lot more than just cutting back on mileage; this week was also meant to be a time for healing both physically and mentally.

I honestly thought this was going to be a time where I would be pumped up and excited but instead am frightened and nervous. What I have learned this week is that tapering can challenge any semi-confident runner!!!

Again, I have to thank my supporters for providing me an outlet. Without many of you I would be lost, especially those who have listened to me without limit and encouraged me along the way. I know that the support, especially from my daily confidants will get me across the finish line. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sharing the Joy

In ten days I will be running my first of many anticipated marathons. I am ecstatic, although suffering a little from a troubling run today. As I was driving to Chicago last night I was thinking about all of my running friends and feeling the joy of having so many wonderful people in my life. I have a feeling that I am going to be so self absorbed, once I cross the finish line next week, that I will forget it is also the starting line for expressing gratitude for all of the people who have been/will be cheering me on through Facebook, on my blog and along the sidelines of the marathon.

One of the most powerful things I have learned through this journey is that sometimes hearing about a friend's accomplishment is as awesome as having an accomplishment of my own. I have owned, throughout this journey, that I am a slow runner, and though this may make me feel inadequate at times, I am extremely proud to watch my friends achieve new PRs, fastest splits on a speed workout or fastest miles ever.

If we were to flash back just two years you would see a person who is planning to run her first 10k with two of her closest friends. After we ran the Human Race on OSU campus the three of us talked about the half marathon we were going to run in May while toasting, over beer and pizza, the first 10ks for two of us (one from the crowd already finished a marathon). My friends, again, came to Columbus in May and we all ran 13.1 miles. My friends finished more than a half an hour before me but as I ran across the finish line they were the first people to throw their arms around me to share the common accomplishment of finishing a half marathon!

After we finished the half marathon 2010
Yesterday I was driving home to Chicago, patiently awaiting a call from one of the most supportive people I know. You see, every time I finish a run I tuck away the joy, sadness or excitement and call my friend to share the accomplishment of the day. Yesterday I was taking the day off from running because of some knee pain and needed to live vicariously through someone; I NEEDED to feel the joy of running. When the call came and the excitement was shared I felt as though I had the best run of my life because my friend chose to share the joy of his run with me.

Without people calling, posting on Facebook or texting me about their amazing accomplishments I may not have the same desire that I have today to continue on with the amazing life I have created for myself. Knowing that I have people to share the joy of running/cycling/swimming encourages me to continue on this journey and own it as my destination.

This blog was intended to remind people to share the joy with those around you whether it is their accomplishment or your own. What you can gain from your friends accomplishments can often be more powerful than your own.

The following pictures are of some of the people who have been there along the way:

Me, my sister and our friend (Chicago Triathlon 2009 I think)

Me and my running buddy (Cbus 10 miler 2011)
I look forward to having more captured memories in the future with old and new friends!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Different View of Hospitality

I truly enjoy the opportunity to practice self reflection which, I realize, can take many forms. Some people meditate, others chant, some pray and I run. Today, while at church, I recognized that running has been the greatest form of hospitality I have given myself. My church, which I lovingly call the hippy church, has been focused on hospitality this month which has been interesting on many levels. I view hospitality so very differently that many. I practice hospitality as most humans do by opening my front door and welcoming anyone to join me in conversation, for a place to crash for a night (or five) or to sit around the dining table with me.

On the other hand I view spending time with supportive people and always being myself as a way of providing me a form of hospitality; I am talking about the people I can talk to without limit, the people who I can be comfortably silent with, fall asleep with while watching a movie in my home (rather than trying to stay awake to entertain), people I can spend time and people I can run with.

By allowing myself to embrace athleticism I have found something that I consider one of the fundamental pillars that hold up the structure of my 'self'. I have opened a door to something that I viewed as a limiting but in return found something that is limitless. As I reflect on the fears I talked about last week I recognize the true power in the hospitality I have provided myself through running. Sharing those fears with all of you and listening to what some of my readers have shared with me allowed me to understand what might impact me in the future or hold me back as I begin to strive toward future goals.

I guess what I am saying, although with little eloquence, is that I have never really thought about the necessity of offering myself some of my own hospitality, perhaps because I am already doing it. I think I have running, in part, to thank for that.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Biggest Fear

Last week I disclosed that fears often hold me back from achieving my dreams. I also expressed my interest in tackling my dreams without regard to fear. I am going to start talking about and expressing my biggest fear now so as to rally as much support as possible! In one month from today I will be celebrating my completion of the marathon. I am guessing I will still be on cloud nine two days after the marathon but my fear is that I will forget to encapsulate the amazing accomplishment and lose my drive.

This song kind of mirrors my fear of losing running:

Being a person who struggled with finding the 'right' thing I recognize that losing running, because of the pure joy it provides me, is my biggest fear. I find hilarity in the fact that I have already decided I am going to run another marathon (or two) next year seeing as a 10k was only in my sights for the first time two years ago; however I am the queen of the exercise sabbatical. This is the year that I am going to retire exercise sabbaticals with the support of my readers and friends. I need to shed myself of the fear that I am not 'meant' to be a runner.

I am sitting here listening to Home by Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros. Without going into too many details I can say there are certain people, places, animals and things that I can substitute for 'you' in the song that make me feel at home; running is one of those things! Please tell me to read my blog if you see me slipping...

Here is the song for your listening pleasure:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mind Games

I lived in Boulder Colorado for four years while I was studying at the University of Colorado at Boulder. During my time in Colorado I fell in love with the mountains, skiing, hiking, the dry air, moderate winters and gloriously sunny summers. I never went 'home' to Chicago over the summers but instead stayed in Colorado so I could take summer classes and be around my nephews at the time. I always had the desire to be an athlete while living in Boulder but never the drive.

About six months ago I started planning a vacation to Colorado centered around a 50 mile bike ride in the foothills of Boulder and of course to visit my brother. What really happened amazed me. I started my journey driving out to Colorado from Columbus Ohio, logging some decent runs along the way. I had extreme trepidation as I began pondering the 20 mile training run that was scheduled for September 10, 2011, just one day prior to the Buffalo classic.

My brother informed me that he took Friday off from work so that he could ride Vail Pass with my cousin and a friend who came to town for the Buffalo Classic. I am not going to lie, I was less than pleased because I had this 20 mile run looming on Saturday and the 50 mile ride on Sunday; all I wanted to do was log some hikes, go site seeing and be around some people I don't see very often but love dearly. Seriously, why would I ride 9 miles uphill at what is extreme altitude when I have other events/training goals? I simply said that I wasn't going to do it...

3 miles up Vail Pass
As I began planning my week I decided that I would run on Wednesday to try and get acclimated to the altitude and then attempt my 20 miles on Thursday so I could spend as much time with my people as possible. What happened next amazed me! Wednesday I ran around a lake a couple of times logging 5 very easy miles. On Thursday morning I woke up with a pit in my stomach, got dressed, left my friends house and headed to the South Platt trail in Denver. I started running and I just kept going, I seriously felt like Forrest Gump (this is where you are supposed to laugh)! At about 9 miles south of my starting point I turned around and headed back to Denver. I ran as if I were at Columbus altitude. I admittedly had to walk up a lot of hills so as not to destroy my knees, I also had to walk mile 17 and 18 because I ran out of water but the reality is I finished 18 miles at altitude. I felt untouchable, grateful, accomplished, proud; you name it, that was how I felt.

On Friday morning, as we were loading the car for Vail Pass and other mountain adventures I told my cousin to throw my bike in the car, I put on my cycling gear and much to my surprise decided to attempt Vail Pass. I did not 'summit' the pass but I did something I never knew possible. I rode 4 miles uphill and never blinked an eye. I decided to turn around, not because I was particularly tired or thought I couldn't do it but instead because I wanted to save my body for the remainder of the trip.

Getting ready for the 50 mile ride
On Sunday I headed out from my Alma Mater to ride 50 miles. Not only did I finish the ride but I completed the ride with a smile on my face, riding up the same hill I found every excuse to drive up when I lived in Boulder. I fell once, saw some interesting cycling outfits along the way, encountered people who were encouraging (and less so) and enjoyed outstanding views of the Rockies!

I was recently talking with a friend about how we wish we had discovered our love for running many years ago because we would have a better base at this point and we couldn't imagine the type of mileage we may have logged at this point in our lives. Reflecting back some years and relating it to this week has been especially telling. I realize that if I always let my mind win I may not have had these experiences. My mind has limited me in the past using excuses such as the human body is not meant to run a marathon (while deep down I want to run a marathon), riding on highway 36 in Boulder is stupid and dangerous (well it is dangerous but I still did it), running at altitude for this flatlander is not wise (but I had one of the most rewarding experiences of my life), riding Vail Pass is only for the elite (I did make it 4 miles up, which may not seem like much but is something I would have never tried in the past).

Picture from the hike
The point is in the text somewhere but to summarize, I have discovered that my mind has limited me in the past and I believe that limit was fear. I have to say though, I am happy and grateful for how this journey took shape in my life. I used to live with a fear that I could not run the three miles, could not cross the finish line, could not accomplish lofty goals but this week has made me realize anything is possible. I will no longer live in fear or allow my mind games to set my limits, only my dreams will define my limits!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Giving the Gift Of...

I have received many gifts in my lifetime. I remember my first cabbage patch doll, the trumpet my dad brought home from work after Christmas, the scooter I received for my first communion, the scarves people have made for me and the list goes on.

I also remember the gifts of time. There is nothing I value more than the time I spend with people. I believe my parents instilled in me the importance of time. When I hated reading in sixth grade, my mom would sit with me and read, page by page, the Call of the Wild. This was a gift!

Over the last few years I have deeply embraced cycling, swimming and running. Running has definitely become my favorite sport and I have been trying to figure out why. For me it was the most challenging to embrace but has probably been the most rewarding. I honestly can't remember how I was initially introduced to running. It must have been the exercise bully, otherwise known as my oldest sister.

I was recently talking to a friend of mine who is a new cyclist. During this conversation I was telling her that I would rather learn from someone who is clumsy and passionate than someone who is great at or knowledgeable about said topic but totally disengaged. The reason we were even talking about learning opportunities was because I was bubbling with joy over my new found love of running. My cyclist friend told me that she would come to me, even though I am slow and newish to running, if she ever wanted to become a runner. I had to think about this for awhile and now realize this was the biggest complement someone could give me.

If you have had a conversation with me about running recently, you know that I can be found saying, dramatically, "I love giving the gift of running!!!" The truth is that when you spend time with someone and share your enthusiasm or passion for your new hobby, ideology, sport and the list goes on, you are giving the gift of...

For the record, I am not devaluing any of the material gifts that have been given to me over time but instead acknowledging shared passion and enthusiasm as valued gifts!!! Thank you to the people who gave me the gift of running!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

DC Running

Post Earthquake at twilight. Can you see the crack?
Last week I blogged about my struggles with running while on the road. I am proud to say I got over my challenges, found my stride and enjoyed the new sites and sounds of city running. Here is my story:

While laying in bed last Tuesday I was shamefully recognizing I had gotten very few miles in so I quit feeling sorry for myself, stuck my feet in my shoes and headed out for some of the most enjoyable routes this season.

Tuesday morning I was scheduled to meet a co-worker for a run. Much to my dismay she never showed so I headed out alone. I had a great run past the White House around the Washington Monument (pre-earthquake) and back to my hotel.

Tuesday evening I was picked up by a great passionate woman who took me to the burbs to run with her running club on what she proclaimed a 'flat' trail. There was nothing flat about this five mile run. I have never been so challenged while running!!! It was a very motivational group who shared in my enthusiasm about running. There were hand slaps, people saying way to go and genuine encouragement along the way. There was also an encounter with a tree that has given me some eye pain and a puffy eye to this day.

On Wednesday I scheduled a run to the MLK memorial. It was a little more than six miles round trip with a stop at the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and past the White House.

It was so refreshing to see the sites by foot. It also provided me relief from long hard days and the ability to clear my head! Here are a few pictures I managed to snap from my cell phone. Enjoy!!!

Capital Building

Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope - MLK

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Traveling and Running?

One major struggle I have encountered over he last five years has been maintaining a training schedule when I am traveling for work. This really would not be a problem if most of my work travel took place over the winters as winters are appropriate times, in my mind, to take exercise sabbaticals. I could feel myself slipping slowly on Saturday morning. I wasn't even on the road yet but for some odd reason I found myself oversleeping until 6:30, and then 7:00, and then 8:00. I convinced myself when I woke up that I would put my things together for my dog sitter and then head out for 10 miles.

Well, Sunday came and went with little success for logging any substantial mileage and so the story goes...

It is Tuesday now and I hang my head in shame as I consider the limited opportunities that have presented themselves to me to get in a good workout session; I have only minimally capitalized on those opportunities. I am feeling both thankful and frustrated about the remainder of my week. I was smart enough to schedule running 'dates' with friends through the remainder of my trip and for this I am thankful, but am somewhat frustrated that I have not been able to embrace the peace and serenity running provides back home in Columbus, while on the road.  

So here I am awake, restless but also wildly exhausted at 4:20 in the morning plotting my next move. I could continue to toss and turn or I could go and log a couple of miles on the treadmill before my running date this morning.  What would you do?

UPDATE: It is now 10:02 pm and I am on my blog again. I did NOT take a nap today but I did get in two runs. The first run was three miles past the White House and around the Washington Monument. It was an awesome run. The second run involved a trip to Maryland with a very hospitable DC local who took me to her group run. We ran five miles on a route that people out here would call flat; not to my Columbus, Ohio standards. It was great to spend time with a great person. Another example of how the running community comes together!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When in Doubt

A couple of things I have to say today. I know this is two in one week but this one might actually have a point? You tell me!

First I have to say, when I am in doubt about what I am about to post on my blog I should take a step back and press the delete button. Last night's post was TERRIBLE!!! I don't know whether I should thank my close friends or shame my close friends for NOT telling me to take that crap down. Well at least the video was good! And yes I am leaving it because it will remind me to reflect before I post.

I discovered today how crucial running is to my mental health. I had a somewhat frustrating day. It was long, tiring, mentally draining and the list goes on. I got home and was exhausted. I thought it might be nice to take the night off and just lounge around my freshly cleaned house. I was sitting on my couch, reading a book and I got the itch. Without even thinking, I was in my favorite running clothes and at the corner of Goodale and Grandview Avenue. I got about two and a half miles from my house before I even realized I was running. An old friend of mine asked me yesterday when I became so hard core; I think the answer is today. I know that if I am ever doubting a run I need to strap on the shoes and go.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

And So the Story Goes...

This week has been interesting on so many levels! I'm going to stick with the running levels though...

First I had experienced pure euphoria, most likely because of an amazing pace coach who made me realize that everyone has hard days. The true test is sticking with it and making it through the tough days. The quiet nature and gentle words spoke volumes about the care he puts into helping people across the finish line. I'm going to have to say thank you next time I see him.

I had a moment of, it could have been me, this week. My favorite bike path has fallen victim to a man approaching people with a knife. I should have been in the same location at the same time as the woman who was approached but for some reason I wasn't. Call it what you will but I'm calling it luck. It wouldn't have bothered me as much as it did but it was at 3:00 in the afternoon. I guess I need to find a new bike/run route to work for awhile and check the news to see if he was caught. I never go out for a run alone after dark and now I have to worry in the day light as well. I have never really believed in running with an iPod. It just doesn't work for me. Every once in a while I put the plugs in my ears but I miss out on so much when I do. I love hearing my breathing, the rhythm of my feet pounding on the ground, the birds, river flowing, my constant talking to myself (yes I talk to myself when I run alone) and my thoughts. Music clouds my running judgement and makes it more difficult for me to hear bikes, other runners or crazy people approaching me from any direction. Be careful out there friends!!!

Yesterday I was grooving for the first four miles of my run and then I hit a speed bump. This was actually less of a speed bump and more of a gap in the concrete that popped all four of my wheels. When I hit this patch I took the time to regroup, think about how fortunate I am, remember the words that so many wise friends have shared with me this week and moved on. The remainder of my run was less stellar than I would have liked but regardless I ran, I enjoyed, I conquered. After all the goal is to finish the marathon NOT kill the marathon. 

This is a journey that I know will last beyond a 26.2 mile road race. It lasted past two 13.1 mile road races. I love running and the truth is that this journey is my destination. 

Of course no good blog of mine comes without a song. Here is some Johnny Cash for my faithful readers:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Happiness comes in very small packages. Have you ever looked around at your life and tried figuring out what is going to make you 100% happy? I'm sure you have; everyone has at some point in their life. Have you ever had that moment where you all of a sudden felt fully fulfilled in life, just to not truly understand where that fulfillment and happiness came from. You know the moment. It is that moment where all of a sudden you realize you are totally happy, everything is perfect and you never want to let it go just to realize the next moment that feeling is gone? I know I have.

I started writing this post about a week ago. The same day, one of my friends wrote a post about the very same thing. I decided to hold off on posting it because I couldn't eloquently make my point and I probably still won't make my point. But here goes nothing!

I have been striving for that moment of sheer joy for a long time. If you know me, you know that I am a very happy person 95% of the time. I don't let many things bring me down, which is why last week was so difficult. I relish in the small thing, the small moments, in which someone makes a statement, a song comes on the radio that puts a smile on my face, my dog gets his upper lip stuck up making him look like Elvis, my nephew gets on the phone to tell me he jumped off the diving board. All of these thing add to the joy of my life. Well most recently I have realized, even on the bad days, running has brought joy to my life.

Was last week hard? Yes. Was this week better? Yes. Will I have weeks like the last again? Yes. Will I give up? No.

Tonight I was talking with someone about how my confidence has been really low because everything has been hard and then I realized what matters is I am doing it. Regardless of the 100 degree plus heat indexes that have plagued Columbus, I have still managed to get out and pound the pavement. When I am at my worst, I still walk out the door and run!

So many positive things have been happening lately, and I kid you not, as I was running up the dreaded hill at the very end of a short run tonight, I had the feeling. You know the one, the one I spoke of earlier in this post and it lasted. I might even still be on that high!

Running has enhanced my life. The people I have been exposed to, who have supported me, who have challenged my confidence are all to thank!

I look forward to seeing some of you at various mile markers while I run the Columbus Marathon in October!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's Not Always Sunshine and Roses

Sunrise over Oman
I know I may, at times, make it sound like picking up a more athletic lifestyle is easy. Well I'm here to tell you it's not. This post is not meant to discourage anyone but instead acknowledge that it can be tough. At times you may run into people who think you are crazy or less than encouraging. When I run into these folks often, it can impact my mind and I may start to believe it.

Recently I was telling one of my biggest supporters about my desire to attempt a half iron man at some point in the near future, just to be met with skepticism. I honestly wasn't expecting it and was a little taken back. I realize the intensity and time it takes to train for any endurance sport takes persistence and is more about the power of the mind but if there was any time to take on the challenge it would be now when I am childless and enjoying the positive benefits of my new lifestyle. When I was faced with this less than positive statement I felt like I hit wall, a roadblock; and when my mind encounters a road block it can be very difficult to figure out which direction to move.

I haven't been feeling my best this week. I had a sore throat yesterday and was extremely tired today. I took a nap after work, which is unheard of for me, so I could go out an run 10 miles tonight. The 10 miles were less than stellar. I found myself running too fast in the beginning, slowing down to a walk many times during the run just to accomplish 9ish miles. During the run I was faced with discontent, frustration, sadness and doubt. If today was a battle between my mind and body, I would absolutely have to say my mind won. I cried, I stomped my feet, I pretended I was happy when I passed other runners, I beat myself up for stopping a few times. This time anthems never played in my head to get me more motivated (reference to my Five Mile Meltdown). The positives never appeared, instead I heard the voices of the less than supportive people saying that I am crazy, unbalanced, trying to prove something and the list goes on.

The reality is I am trying to prove something, everyone is crazy and unbalanced at times. Does this make me a bad person? Does this mean I shouldn't do it? Does this mean I am not going to hit the trails again on Friday? All this means is I need to keep battling the negative thoughts that are running through my head until I find the sunshine and roses again. I know they exist for me so I will not give up! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Torture (trash) or Treasure

Doesn't that snow look delightful? 
As the depths of hell, or what I might think hell feels like, descends on Columbus Ohio I have been reflecting on whether my desire to run/be an athlete is a personal treasure or torture. This morning I ran to work in the thickest humidity. I had a big bottle of water in one hand and a smaller bottle of G2 in my other hand. The water was half frozen when I departed on my journey to work, half way there it was thawed and warm. I kept pouring it over my head and saying to myself "why do I do this to myself."

Most things we do in life have either positive or negative ramifications. Every once in awhile something that is good for us may feel like torture but what you get in the end is a treasure. I am always baffled when people make decisions to continue torturing themselves when they know the end result is going to hurt. It pains me to watch people continue to walk into the same wall over and over again, when they have the choice to instead walk around the wall. Some people may read my posts week to week with the belief that I am torturing myself, but I can tell you what I am doing, even when I have a tough week like this week, the positive result my running has on my spirit is a gift that I will thank myself for throughout the rest of my life. If running was damaging my spirit in the long run or destroying my body and health I would put it down once and for all.
Heat index today? 110 degrees. Heat index in picture? 10 degrees

As I write this post I know that when I make decisions in my life I need to spend some time reflecting on how they are going to impact me in the long run. If the results are or continue to be torture with no positive benefit I need to make the decision to throw that idea away and move on to better things. If the results are going to be treasure I am going to embrace that decision/action and carry it with me through life, the trash is going to be thrown away and only reflected on for the lessons learned. Cheers to a healthy body and mind!!!

One of the things I promised when I first began this blog was to share funny stories from my journey. I am not sure the following story qualifies but I'll let you decide:

As I mentioned earlier I ran to work this morning. When I bike or run to or from work, I try to carry as few items as possible so as not to weigh myself down. The goal is to have a successful workout session.

Today I left my house with two bottles of water, a house key, twenty dollars, my drivers license and my bus pass. I got to work drenched in sweat, so much so that I left drips around me when standing on the sidewalk outside of my building (I know, I know TMI); that is how HOT it was this morning. I walked into my office, reached for my filing cabinet, which is where I keep my towel and other shower items, and realized the cabinet was locked and my big ole mess of keys was probably laying in the middle of my living room floor with the remaining articles I decided to shed this morning. After pacing the hall way for a few minutes cursing my forgetfulness I went in my office, grabbed the scissors and broke into my filing cabinet. I am not sure that cabinet will ever lock again but at least I smelled good today!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Feet Time, Friend Time

Before you begin reading, go and press the play button on the video below. It is great background music for today's post.

I always get nervous when I begin to miss workouts. This weekend instead of running on Saturday, like I should have done, I was at the Dave Matthews Band Caravan Tour in Chicago. There is nothing better than sitting back or standing and dancing to the sounds of awesome music. You name it, I heard it this weekend. I got to listen to moe, Ben Folds, Umphrey's McGee, Michael Franti (a personal favorite) and OAR. I spent more time on my feet this weekend than I would have running six miles. If the coach of my running group is correct what matters is time on your feet. Well let me tell you folks, I got that time.

Today I started getting that rise is blood pressure I encounter when  I realize I didn't do everything I was supposed to do. All I could think of was needing a friend to make me feel a little better. I have two of the most supportive running friends within the world friends. I also have a great friend who used to be my concert buddy.  I always know I can count on any of them to lift me up or bring me back to the reality I need to get moving again. The two running friends get to read through my 'inspirational' email of the week. And the concert buddy has to listen to me talk endlessly about the most recent show I have been to or even the most recent race that failed me or changed me. In reality the inspiration emails only include a countdown to our three big races this fall with some random quote that I bumped into that moved me in the last week. I was at a loss for words when sending my weekly email this week but of course my good friend Michael Franti came to the rescue.

Because I am in Chicago I am a little off workout kilter. I will get back on the wagon tomorrow but for now I just have to remember that, like I said earlier, feet time is most important and, if needed, I have supportive friends. If you are working on a life journey, whether it be fitness related, health related, love related, etc. remember you always have a friend; it will get you through anything!!! Also, spend a little time on your feet dancing it out.

I am sharing this song so you can all understand how the blog and all of my friends/family support my journey to the finish line of the marathon. Enjoy!!! Oh and if you can't sit still (I never can when Michael Franti is playing) stand up and shake your bones!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Capturing the Weekend

I have many of visions of a perfect blog post regarding dreams; stay tuned it will appear in the near future.

Instead I am going to tell you about my adventures of a long unplanned weekend...

The Fourth of July was approaching and I had no plans. It was killing me to think that I might lay on my couch watching TV while the world continued to rotate without my full participation (remember I am a bit dramatic). I started getting anxious and began planning berry picking, canning, cleaning, etc. I was determined to not lay around. What I got from bad planning was instead an awesome weekend with friends and great exercise.

I went to my friends house on Friday night and made some plans to connect the next day to go berry picking. I did my morning run in the rain and humidity, nine miles to be exact. I met my friend at the North Market since we couldn't find a place to pick berries. The weekend exploded from there. I walked around the zoo, went to the waterfalls in Columbus, fixed my bike, went to the beach, went for a bike ride, met a friend for dinner, went to a parade today and grilled some tasty veggies.

Among all of this fun I decided to stop in Fleet Feet on Sunday to see what runs were happening on the Forth of July. I needed to run 5 miles today and figured I could find some event to get some of my miles in. I found the Freedom Four Miler. It was so much fun!!! There were only two hundred participants and the race ran along a parade route. The roads were lined with people who were patiently waiting for the parade to begin and they cheered us on along the way. The field of runners for this race were so fast that I believe I was the second to last finisher but the support from the crowd was amazing.

Exercise has changed my life for the better. It has allowed me the ability to enjoy every activity to the fullest!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Different Lens

I was talking with a friend of mine last week regarding her new adventures in cycling. She was telling me about how the views of her city are so different by bicycle and her familiarity with neighborhoods has developed since she began riding. About three months ago an gentleman at weight watchers told me that you never really see a city until you run the city.

On my own, I have discovered that the lens through which we explore life changes based on our experiences, our attitude or our ability to be empathetic. I am often found telling a story during training sessions that we all have a choice when we wake up in the morning whether we are going to roll out of the right or the wrong side of bed. We can choose, when standing in the long line at the grocery store, whether we are going to have line rage or simply read the magazine or chat up another person in line.

Yesterday morning I woke up on the right side of the bed, however life had different plans for me. I woke up late, rushed around to try and make it to the MIT Saturday run, fell down the stairs, only ran 6 miles (I was supposed to run 8), my dog got sick, spent a ton of money at the doggy ER and was later meeting up with my out of town guests than I would have liked.

Since I have been on the path toward becoming an athlete I view life from a very different perspective, through a very different lens. It is a lens that makes me consider how my choices today might impact me tomorrow. Don't get me wrong, I am constantly living in the moment with the understanding that I have future goals. The following are some examples of how my choices have changed over time:

Before I decide to have a drink, I evaluate my training schedule for the next day.
When I am ordering dinner (which is rare) I am thinking about how it will fuel my body.
If I'm scared of something, I face it head on (with the exception of heights, I don't want to die).
If I am going to have dessert, darn it I am going to have a GOOD dessert.

So yesterday I had a choice to make once all of the fiascoes were out of the way. I could let all of the mishaps turn my day upside down, or I could move on and enjoy my company and the cool city in which I live. I chose the latter. We romped around town to look at campus, check out comfest and see the sights of the short north. What was my favorite part? Being with good friends and walking up and down High Street.  Again, it is all about the lens through which we view life. Next time I find myself having a bad moment I am going to remember all of the extraordinary things I get to experience because I chose to pick up the lifestyle of an athlete. I am going to remember how the bad run yesterday built my character to get through what will be a better run tomorrow.

So what am I trying to say in all of this? If you don't like what is in your view right now, change your lenses. It is never too late!

Oh and lastly, I know not everyone has the desire to run or ride but I do have to agree with my friend... The best way to see a city is by foot or bicycle. The following pictures were taken of me, or by me while experiencing life on foot.
Columbus River Front, Cap City Half Marathon 2010

Down Town Chicago, 5k 2010

Bike the Drive 2009, Chicago Illinois

Downtown Columbus, Half Marathon 2011. 

Colorado 2010, Me and Bob!
The feet that allow me all these adventures :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why I Run..

Miles Upon Miles Upon Miles? Some people run for charity, while others run for exercise, to make friends, to accomplish a goal or even for fun. Well  I've discovered I run for three big reasons...

Bragging Rights

One of the coolest things about training for a marathon is being able to say, I ran 30 miles last week. Well I can't officially say that as my training came up a little short last week BUT I can say I ran 26.5 miles last week. I guess that means I ran a marathon. I could check it off my bucket list! Ha, I don't think that qualifies for the 26.2 magnet that I am looking forward to slapping on the back of my vehicle in October.

So for those of you who have to see my Facebook feed on a daily basis, I truly apologize; but seriously it is fun to let the world know that I just finished a seven mile run, or twenty mile bike ride. It truly makes me feel like I accomplished something in my day.


People always told me to go out and get some exercise if I was depressed, pissed off, cranky, stressed and the list goes on. I have discovered there really is nothing more therapeutic than exercise. As long as I am logging miles whether it be by bike, foot or water I feel really good about myself. While in motion I find myself  strategizing difficult situations, cursing at the person who just ticked me off and sometimes simply zoning out and fining peace. Conquering a run/bike/swim or anything for that matter, than you initially thought you couldn't accomplish, can really impact your self esteem. It sure does beat the 80 dollars you may spend at your therapists office (BTW, therapy is great too, I just recognize that exercise can either supplement or substitute therapy).


When I run, especially with the group I have joined, I feel like I am part of something bigger than myself. The only word I can find to describe the feeling is the word spiritual. I know that may sound dramatic but if you know me, you know I have a tendency towards a little drama. Harmless drama, but drama nonetheless. As I mentioned before this 'movement' toward becoming an athlete has brought me one step closer to finding my inner peace, and that isn't even what I was looking for.

By the way the picture is from my favorite running store. I have a little shirt envy from those who wear this shirt around town! I hope to have one some day :)