Monday, October 28, 2013

Eyes or Ears

Have you ever had eye problems? My dad is blind without his glasses. With his glasses he can see well enough to have a 'normal' sighted life. I'd say he is pretty lucky. I used to have debates with people about which sense I would be most willing to give up. I feel like I have mostly swayed on the side of willing to give up my eye sight prior to my hearing. Not sure how I feel about this today.

This weekend, while having lunch with my mom, I noticed a table of individuals sitting across the restaurant who all appeared to be deaf. I was then intrigued with the idea that perhaps not being able to hear would be better. I mean, with the loss of hearing, you can still carry on conversations with your friends who know sign language.

All of this has made me think more in depth about Helen Keller. What an experience she must have had; no sight or hearing. She never had the option of the hypothetical/philosophical debate that I have so often dragged people through. 

Thank god this has all been primarily hypothetical for me...

Now, the interesting thing is that several years ago I had no idea what it really meant to be an athlete, except for the fact that I wanted to be one. I have had several conversations with folks debating the definition of 'athlete', and I can tell you, we all have very different ideas of what it truly embodies to be an athlete. I am not proud of the fact that I have ridden the sidelines for the last several months of my athleticism, but sometimes it is necessary to simply take a rest. Your body needs to recover and the only way to allow for such recovery is to relax a little bit.

By no means does my sideline riding this season mean that I will not be found on the course again in the future. It simply means that I had to give that 'sense' a break, and you know what? Other senses had the opportunity to develop. 

Now to relate this back to hearing and vision I have to say that, I have seen the finer (or not so) points of being physically active and not. When I am physically active, I am happier and more content. That is not to diminish the time I spend with people when I'm not physically active because that time is extremely valuable to me too, I actually think it is even better though because I am more physically able to walk around Amish country for hours, or go shopping, or zipline, or go to a play (although theater is NOT my thing).

Anyway, this whole discussion is meant to promote athleticism. Luckily I do not have to choose between my eyes or my ears, and I truly hope that I never do. I will say that when faced with a choice between athlete and non-athlete, I will always choose athlete and the beauty is I have the choice. Other people do not have the choice!!! I am meeting more and more people daily who don't get to decide whether they want to run that half marathon or not, or that marathon or not. It is time for me to take advantage of every opportunity because some day we may not have that choice...

On top of all of this? I have said so many times on this blog, my athleticism has given me my best friend, my confidence, my ability to deal with adverse situations. Fear not, I will again be on the marathon course and the half iron man course, but for this very moment in time, I am going to enjoy cheering along every one of the folks I know as their journeys are teaching me so much about how I will approach my future goals. I'm also going to cheer along all of the people I have met recently who can not do what I do, and I'm going to do it for them.

And if your lucky to have the ability to see and hear, I am going to ask you to do one thing today... Turn up your radio so the car next to you can hear you at the stop light. Let them see you singing along (they might laugh)... Laugh, enjoy the person who is calling/texting/emailing/facebooking you today.  Also, look at the stars, enjoy the sunrise/set, look at the leaves on your trees. Even better yet, look someone in the eyes and say hello. 

Finally, join me in the gift many of us have, move your legs, charge on, walk a 5k. If you need a good cause to move for? Let me know, I'm sure I can scrounge something up fairly quickly for you.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Best and The Worst

Is it possible to have the best and worst time all at the same time? I am here to tell you it is...

This summer has been a challenge. I received information that has changed how I think about things and has explained why my athletic goals have been more challenging to achieve. I allowed it to get me down for a short period of time but during that time I also learned a heck of a lot about myself and my relationships. I can often be heard talking about the fact that I am a relationship person, after all I have also been heard stating that I should change the name of my blog to the social athlete. But what I have realized in all of this is that relationships are a priority it my life, and those relationships are what have made this shitty summer the BEST summer of my life.

As I was learning how to deal with this new information, I have been blessed with the growth and development of some new and existing friendships. I have literally had the best time of my life this summer and know that there is so much more to come!!! I have also re-prioritized how my athleticism fits in with my overarching life goal of achieving happiness which is evident by my contentedness with sitting on the sidelines cheering for my running buddies while  they run their marathons.

I keep this 'journal' that highlights a notable moment of each day. It is not a journal in the typical sense because until recently it was simply a quick statement on a printed out outlook calendar, of that moment I really wanted to remember every. It has gotten a little more formal because I now have a book, that is part of the happiness project. The book allows me to keep track of, and go back to reflect of the best moments. Some of the notable moments I see when I look back on this summer include crossing the finish line of a half marathon with my 'bestie' (I hate that term but thought it would be fun to use it), a random 60 mile bike ride, apples and more apples with my mom, shopping with my sister (and I hate shopping), a 10 miler with my sister in law and sister, a failed triathlon (yes that was still a good day), the half iron man with my brother in law and sister, flat tires on bike rides, hermit crabs, camping, concerts (Michael Franti never disappoints), and the list could go on!!! None of these things would have been as fun, had awesome people not been by my side...

So, here is the deal. I have some goals for the next calendar year which include some fairly significant events. For example, I will run another half marathon and participate in Pedal to the Point. The half marathon is going to be awesome because one of my friend's will be running her first and I anticipate crossing the finish line with my good friend again and the other goal is Pedal to the Point which will allow me to raise money for a cause that is near and dear to my heart. Also both of these events will stretch me and my athleticism in a new way. The fact of the matter is that the friends are one of the biggest reasons I charge on!!! They are also the reason this summer has been so great and I see no reason why things won't continue and get even better as I strive to cross the start line, and hopefully the finish line of the various goals with my greatest friends right next to me while inserting other fun adventures along the way that have absolutely NOTHING to do with athleticism.

Although I know there are more 'worsts' to come in my life, my friends have made me realize if I just look around, the best can be happening in that same moment.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Furlough Five

It is no secret, for those who know me, that I have been furloughed for the last few of weeks. There was nothing I could do about the situation other than watch the news so rather than sit around contemplating the furlough I turned it into a time to get stuff done.

The list of activities includes:
  • 5 Doctor appointments
  • Several runs
  • 2 Illinois State Parks
  • 2 Bushels of apples = 12 jars blueberry applesauce, 5 quarts apple pie filling, a few dozen jars applesauce
  • 14 hours of volunteering for the Chicago Marathon
  • 2 Shopping trips for work clothes (anticipating a return to that place)
  • Washed floors
  • New vent covers
  • 9 Hats made
  • The start of an afghan
  • A 7 year old's swim meet
  • Visit to a store that has a tag line: It's not just a store, it's an adventure
  • Hanging out with my buddy from DC
  • A ton of TV (next time this happens, I really hope it isn't premier week again...)
  • Two bike rides
  • A trip to the dump
  • Two days of being sick
  • Won 160 dollars
  • Some quality time with my friends here and my family in Chicago
To say I was busy is an understatement. I am now back to work feeling somewhat refreshed and trying to get back into the swing of a routine and thought it was appropriate to reflect. So what is the culmination of all that activity? Several pounds gained which I am going to affectionately call the FURLOUGH FIVE!!! Perhaps it was all the applesauce. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I Feel Like I Ran a Marathon!!!

But I didn't...

This is what I did instead!!!
Our stack of cups!
This post is not to diminish what marathoners do... If anyone knows what it takes to run a marathon, I can
tell you I am an expert. Well sort of. Being a slow marathoner, I can tell you the six plus hours I spent on my feet running my first marathon (I'm still saying first, meaning there must be another in me) was no easy feat. Two years ago I ran Columbus and I still felt the need to be part of another race even though I am in no shape to run one these days, nor do I want to. What I did instead is got suckered into about 14 hours of volunteering at the Chicago Marathon Expo and at a water station during the race.

My good friend Ericc (who volunteered over 30 hours this weekend in support of the Chicago Marathon) called me up and asked me if I was going to be in town this weekend. I didn't have plans of it but when he told me he was volunteering and told me I should too, I quickly signed up. Janell and my mom jumped on the band wagon as well and next thing I knew I was signed up to hand out t-shirts and work at the water station.

I was impressed by the operation of putting on such an event. There were over 40,000 runners and about 14,000 volunteers, not to mention all the staff and police, US marshals, security and spectators flooding the streets of Chicago this weekend. I got to be one of the over 1,500,000 people hanging out in Chicago for this amazing event.

Me and Janell in front of our cup art.
I do have to give a huge shout out to all the volunteers. Wow, they put all of their energy into trying to create the most positive experience for every runner on the course...

Anyway, Ericc and I got back to my parents' house after volunteering today and promptly sat down in the family room to visit with my dad. Both of us had been up for several hours, likely earlier than many marathoners, and volunteered for endless hours to ensure the runners had the event of their lives. We were on our feet for over 8 hours each. When my mom came to the family room to tell us dinner was ready, we both got out of our chairs and started hobbling up the stairs and I promptly turned to Ericc and said, I feel like I ran a marathon today. He agreed.

The effort every person put into today's event, including the endless hours of training the marathoners did to complete 26.2 miles in one day, is to be celebrated. What better way to celebrate than to congratulate each and every person who took part in this event.

I knew I was an expert slow runner and an expert spectator... Now I can add expert water station volunteer to the resume.

And at the end of the day, regardless of what I did, I will probably always be able to say: I feel like I ran a Marathon!!!

Congratulations to all of you who ran your hearts out today! You got me excited to try a marathon again, but not for a couple of years...


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Where's the Nutmeg?

When at a loss for what to blog about, a story presents itself...

I am going to start taking pictures of the ice cream treats I indulge in on Sundays. I mean I chronicle the rest of my athletic life so why not also chronicle the treats I get to eat because of the exercise I do?

No seriously, one of my favorite days of the week is Sunday. I wake up, lay in bed until 8:00 (of course after Dukie goes out), I go for a bike ride, eat some weird lunch and then get ice cream. That basically sums up most of my Sundays. 

Today was no different, I headed over to my friend's house to pick her up for our weekly bike ride and noticed I had a flat tire on my bike. We drove to the trail head, changed my tube and off we went for one of the most beautiful rides we have gone on (in my opinion). When we got to the turn around point, I noticed I had a flat again. I think these tires have a conspiracy against me!!!!!! Anyway, changed the tube again and quickly realized that the rest of this bike ride was NOT going to happen.

We had a few choices at this point:

1) One of us rides back to the car and pick up the other.
2) Try and buy another tube off of a cyclist in the parking lot.
3) Walk back to the car? (This one was NOT my idea...)

Well, option one ended up being the ONLY option as far as I was concerned, so...

I hopped on my friend's bike, with my clip in shoes for my bike and began riding the 14 miles back to the car. I rode uphill, straight into the wind, with my feet slipping off the pedals the entire way. To say I was a spectacle is an understatement, but it didn't end there.

Some nice ladies in the parking lot gave me directions to get to the parking lot where Sue was patiently waiting for me to pick her up...

Here is where the spectacle continues? We saw a gas station that had gas for $3.07 and I HAD to stop even though I just filled up a few days ago. I promptly got out of my car and threw my wallet into the garbage can at the gas station. I was trying to throw away my paper towel... There were bees, lots of bees and I had to dig into the garbage can dodging the bees so as not to get stung to death. Again, spectacle!!!

We then went to lunch at this little Mexican joint in Granville and ordered up some Gringo Tacos. And again, we were attacked by the killer bees. I was told that the image of my attempt to dodge the bees was hilarious. I'm so glad there are not pictures. Have I mentioned I am terrified of bees and they were EVERYWHERE today!!! We switched tables and ate in peace from the bees, until one decided to get a taste of my lunch. Seriously, I must be that sweet. 

Anyway, I decided because of the stress caused by looking foolish all day, I was especially deserving of my pumpkin pie blizzard from Dairy Queen that was sadly missing the nutmeg!!!