Monday, May 28, 2012

My Unconditional Friend

I remember one summer, it was blazing hot on our annual family vacation to Minnesota. It was one of those heat waves that literally took the region by surprise. My dad and I packed up the car for a day trip to the secret lake. This lake was not a lake to be swum in. It was a lake that was overpopulated with Northern Pike and Blue Gill. We had to hike a half mile in to the lake with our shirts tucked into our pants, pants tucked into our socks, hats on our head so as not to get ticks in our belly buttons; all while talking as loudly as possible so as not to scare the bears.

This may have been the same trip in which I was reeling in the biggest northern pike EVER when something else hit my line. I was fighting the 'fish' with my pole, the boat was about to tip over from the strength of this fish, my dad and I were getting excited about the prospect of a 50 lb fish at the end of my line. Just as the boat was about to tip, the northern surfaces, attached to the fish was a huge turtle. My dad and I debated bringing the turtle home for some stew, but we didn't want to hike out with the turtle; so we cut the line and let the turtle have a nice snack, otherwise known as my big fat northern. Ever hear the phrase 'early to bed, early to rise, fish all day and make up lies?' This story is not a fisherman tale, but a true story of father and daughter having fun in the wilderness!

And I digress, so on this trip we had to carry copious amounts of water, but also left some in the car for our drive back to Willow Lake. After the adventures of the day, my dad and I hiked back to the car and climbed in. I was parched, he was parched and so we grabbed the water we left in the car. The car was well over 100 degrees inside but my dad opened up that bottle and took a big swig of the water before handing the bottle to me. I looked at him sideways, as I was holding the coffee hot water, and my dad said with a smile, water is refreshing no matter the temperature. I thought he was crazy and drank some anyway.

So, this past weekend, it was unseasonably hot in Ohio. I spent my weekend in the country, listening to good music and hanging out with some friends. It was one of those weekends where sitting still in the shade made you sweat and sweating we did. Because I am a glutton for punishment, I woke up on Saturday morning, put on my running clothes and went out for my 30 minute run. Damn, it was hot. I was sweating before I began, simply from wrestling on my sports bra, in the crazy humidity.

Trying to make Smores in the sun, on my car. It was THAT hot!
I got back to camp and swiftly drank a ton of water and ate some breakfast, and then one of the moments of brilliance set in, thanks to one of my camping buddies. The road side pond was 20 yards from our camp site. You know the road side ponds I am talking about. It is the one where the fertilizer run off goes to sit, where bacteria grows, where the reeds are so thick they wrap around your legs, you don't want to put your head underwater because you don't want to have some parasite crawl into your brain. What did we do? We jumped in with little abandon. OK, so maybe there was a moment of hesitation when someone told me a mole had just swum by, but I honestly didn't care, I was that damn hot.

The refreshing nature of that pond made me think of that grimy lake in Minnesota, where I almost caught my first 300 lb turtle and my dad's reaction to the hot water. It also made me think about friends. I have a handful of friends who are always there. No matter what the situation, they allow me to cry on their shoulders, talk their ears off, embarrass myself, say things to them that could be uncomfortable and at the end of the day, the time with them is refreshing REGARDLESS of the situation. Those handful of friend are what I call my unconditional friends. I know everyone knows what unconditional love is, these unconditional friendships are the same. Regardless of the moments of irritation with these friends (we all have it from time to time) it still feels good to be around them.

So what does this all have to do with athleticism? Not a damn thing really but here is the learning moment for me...

Not only did I swim in the dirty lake, I also drank nasty cooler water, hot water, cold Gatorade, very cold beer and more water in whatever form just to keep hydrated. The thing that worked the best and was always refreshing? Water. After 20 years or so, I now understand what my dad was talking about. I will take it one step farther and acknowledge that water will forever be my unconditional friend, perfectly refreshing regardless of its form.

Now cross your fingers that I stay healthy after my unhygienic use of my friend...

Swimming with Timchips in the NASTY pond!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Love what YOU Love

I just couldn't wait a week to write and share this post, so I guess you can call it a bonus post, or a random rambling about love? I don't know what prompted this post other than the spirit moved me. Perhaps you will find the point, or you can chalk it up to more strange Sarahisms...

A picture of someone I love dearly!
I very much admire people who know exactly what they want out of life and then go for it. As you already know I love running. I don't need a reason to run, I just do it because I can. I remember an old friend asked me if I would consider doing planks if it was the only thing that allowed me to continue running. My immediate response was no! My tune has changed, I would do anything to make sure I could continue running even if it was the worst homework assignment ever. Why you ask? Because I love it!!!

I was recently talking with one of my friends about relationships and the necessity of not settling. I was telling her that crushes are just crushes unless the other person reciprocates. In other words they are one person being more excited about the other person; it is fun, but if the feelings are never reciprocated that crush gets old and you move on. I feel as though it is the same with any activity in your life.

There is a point in which we have to reassess our situation and determine if what we have a crush on is true love, or just a crush. I realize I am again comparing running to relationships; some of you may be rolling your eyes but stick with me here. I do have a point! I may have to loop around a few times before I get back to that point but I hope it is worth it...

So, I am always encouraging people to start running, primarily because I want to share the love, I want people to feel what I feel when I get home or cross the finish line of another event. While I was injured I spent a lot of time riding my bike, swimming and baking pies. While I truly enjoyed all of those activities, none of them matched up to running for me. You know what? That is OK. I would hate for someone to continue holding onto an activity because they want to feel something that is unattainable from that activity. For instance, I have a friend who recently ran a half marathon. She did a fantastic job, but at the end of the day she really didn't love the experience. She loves running, just not 13.1 miles, so she is not going to do it anymore.

There are times we participate in activities because of exterior factors. In essence we are doing it for the wrong reason and we never feel self actualized when participating in that activity. Take my pie baking, for instance. While I truly enjoy baking pies, I more appreciated the smiles on peoples faces when I shared those pies. Do I need to bake a pie to get those smiles? Probably not. Will I continue baking pies now that I can run again? Probably, but for different reasons. Will I do it with as much gusto as I did the first week I was injured? I can confidently say definitely not.

On another point, I was talking with someone recently about my value system. I was talking about my disinterest in talking about religion or politics with people because they are such passionate subjects and I would hate to form an opinion about someone simply because of their political views. When you have something you are passionate about, it is natural to want the people you value most to have similar beliefs and values as you; however, you know an unconditional friend when they don't judge you or make you feel badly even though they disagree with you. Similarly, when you are participating in an activity and you are not feeling as though you have an unconditional appreciation for it, perhaps it is time to drop that activity.

My point in all of this is we all have to decide if what we are doing is right for us. Would you marry someone you think you are in love with? I would hope not, so why continue torturing your mind, body and soul with an activity you don't love. Don't love something because you feel like you should or someone told you it is the right thing to do, simply love what YOU love, not what others want you to love. It should be simple, and if the feelings are unconditional even the homework isn't so bad.

Side note: A few years ago, while my friend Jenny was visiting me (she is coming again this weekend, YIPPEE) I announced to her that I figured out how I will know I am in love. If you want to know about this, you should ask. I can guarantee you will either laugh your pants off or pull your pants up. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Progress

In the moment!
Every step we take will take us somewhere. We get to choose how to step, but we can't always choose the destination. It is funny how we often try and look back to determine what we could have done differently, what choices we could have made that would have brought us to a different place in life. I like to say, as you may have seen on my blog before, that when I find myself saying 'I should have', I try and follow that up with, 'but I didn't'. I try to remember, when I am bummed out about where I am in life, that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Continuously looking back to wish away your life only inhibits you from living right now.

Case in point: This past week, while travelling for work, I found myself 'riding' the elliptical in the hotel at the gym. I was doing this daily, as prescribed, knowing the first run was fast approaching! You see, I am not an elliptical fan at all. As a matter of fact, I dislike the elliptical so much that one day I painstakingly wrote a very long email using the touch screen, just to allow time to pass, well that wasn't the only reason...

Anyway, I knew that I had to elliptical so that I could take that first step on Friday. I went out for my first jog with my sister and some other awesome company and those ten minutes, now that I look back on them, were blissful! So were the ten minutes this morning. Tomorrow? I get twenty!!!

I am approaching the finish line of my whiny self, or should I say the start line of my Chicago Marathon training. I am on the home stretch and know that once I start my training my body will be thank me for the care I provided it the past six weeks. Although I had a couple of squabbles and missteps today (sorry mom), I recognize all of this as progress!!!

A side note: I should acknowledge that I am extremely happy with my life right now. I have all the right people in my life, I have a great job, I have an amazing family, I have the best friend a person could have (my pup) and as my good buddy Ericc would say, Life is Great!

Here is a pic of me and my siblings:
We are a good looking crew!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Prescription

I woke up on Monday morning convinced the doctor was going to tell me to go out for a slow two mile jog to begin my re-entry into running. What I got instead was a rude awakening.

I headed to the Dr. first thing in the morning. When I got there, Dr. B. squeezed my leg, poked at my bone and watched my face for wincing. What he got instead was a big fat smile because I had no pain at all. He looked at me and said, with a big smile, that I could start my reentry to running plan. I got giddy with excitement and then he reappeared with the plan! The plan did NOT tell me to go out and run; here is what it said instead... Take a ten minute walk, after two days of walking for ten minutes with no pain, take a twenty minute walk and repeat for two days...

I thought, OK, I guess I can handle that, and I kept reading. The plan then told me to use the elliptical for 20-40 minutes a day for 2 weeks... insert tears here... What the heck does this plan have to do with running!!!

The doc could see the troubled look on my face and started explaining the process of bone healing. I hung my head as he explained this healing process and the remainder of the reentry plan. He made a couple of modifications to the plan, cutting the elliptical to 1 week and sent me on my way, with a VERY stern warning to call if I had any pain.

After the appointment I fled the office and started wondering how I was going cross the finish line of the Chicago Marathon this fall. I started thinking about life, in general. Why do things have to break!!! I could get all melodramatic here and say that everything we love breaks, at least for a short period of time. But then I realize there is good news to follow up that melodramatic statement, and that is everything can be fixed. When it is a broken piece of china, we glue it back together. When it is a broken relationship, we communicate more. When it is a broken car, we take the car to the shop. When we are sick, we go to the doctor. In all of these instances, we diagnose the problem and determine the course of action that will best fix everything. We then begin down the path to fix the problem with the hopes that the path we choose is the right one. It is like getting a prescription and then taking the medicine to cure the cold.

I called the person I was supposed to run with that evening and told him the bad news. He was so kind and still met up with me for a bike ride, and little did I know he had the intention of taking my ten minute walk with me. I rode, he ran, we talked and then walked, and I talked some more. During this 'workout' I had the realization that my reentry plan was basically my prescription. What do most people do when they get a prescription? They take it and they get better. I need to approach the reentry plan and use it as my prescription, do my daily homework, and in about 30 days I will be fixed!!!

Now for a song. This is a favorite of mine by Coldplay! One of my nephews told me it is too sad but I find it to be extremely hopeful! There is always a path that will guide you 'home'!!!



Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grateful

Amy, Andrew, Mandy, Kumar and Lynne (not pictured Rachel, Sue, Laurie and Deb)
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a group of friends who were on the path to crossing the finish line of their first, sixth and tenth half marathon. I joined my running club again and began running with this new group of strangers back in December. What happened when I started MIT was extremely unexpected. I was invited to join a group of MITers who gathered on additional days to run and I found some amazing friends. When I learned that I was not going to be able to run this half marathon with them I found myself extremely sad...

So instead of being down in the dumps on THE DAY I found myself at the starting line of the half marathon and was thrilled by the sea of people lined up to run thirteen point one. I was not running but the energy was still brilliant and contagious! Instantly, I was grateful to be down there in the midst of that energy even though I was not running.

I did a quick search for a couple of people but quickly discovered that there was NO way I was going to have the opportunity to wish people a great race. I sent a couple of texts, made a couple of last minute good luck phone calls and then I stood near the start patiently waiting to see my people start their adventure. I saw some, missed others but was ultimately pleased with the smiles and excitement of all the runners.

I went and gathered my bicycle out of the car and headed to mile seven of the race. At that point I started seeing the struggle on the faces of some runners. I started shouting names on the bibs of runners and the smiles started to reappear. I saw Mandy, Amy, Andrew, Lynne, Lisa and many others run by all looking very strong. I headed down to mile nine and a half and once again saw Andrew and Lynne run by. Again still smiling.

I then found myself at mile eleven. I do think my friends started thinking I was crazy as I told them I would be at the midway point but I just wasn't done following them around the city. Here I saw Mandy, Amy and Andrew run by and I started getting emotional. They all looked very good despite the heat and humidity. One of them asked if they could have my bike and I chuckled. After seeing Andrew dash by I quickly started making my way to the finish line. At this point I stood there cheering on the runners as they made their way up the final hill.

First came Mandy and then everyone else started filing in ALL still looking amazing! I found myself tearing up and can honestly say it was NOT because I was on the sidelines but instead because I was able to be a very small part of this journey for my friends. For that I will be forever grateful!!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!!

Typically I would be participating in the carbo loading that many people are doing today in preparation for their half marathons this weekend, but that is just not in the cards for me this year. Two years ago, this weekend, I was running my first half marathon with my friend's C & J. What an amazing accomplishment! I remember crossing the finish line with tears in my eyes and was greeted by hugs from my sister and other spectators. I was untouchable and thought I could take on the world...

After Cap City Half in 2010 (My First)

So what did I do? Signed up for the next Cap City Half in 2011. One year ago this weekend I ran another half marathon. I roped my friend J into running this one. I again cried at the end, I think it was because I knew I would be doing the same thing again in the fall with another 13.1 tacked onto the end. However, I once again felt like I could take on the world.

Finishing Cap City Half in 2011
So what did I do? I signed up for the next Cap City Half in 2012. Because I am still unable to run I will not be crying at the finish line, but will instead be there to greet some of the greatest friends I have made in a long time with hugs as they cross the finish line!!!!!!!!!!

Good Luck to Andrew, Laurie, Mandy, Sue, Amy and Lynne. I had the honor of training with you all for many, many hours this year. You've listened to my stories from life and about past races. Now it is your turn to tell the story of your first, tenth, fifth, eighth half marathon and I will be there to listen!!!