Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Own Private Paradox

Emotionally, I am becoming softer.
I, too, am becoming more stoic.

It's been a while since I really, really cried.
I shed a few tears last week, then again at the end of March.

My features are hardening with the passage of time.
My heart is on fire, while my brain is melting.

Again, this ugly (to me) theme of the finality of life is creeping back into my thoughts more than ever.    I struggle to comprehend this definitive stake in the ground.  People around me seem to have a general acceptance of this reality; several try to rejoice, while few embrace the comfort of a life after death.  I am not in any of these circles.  I feel like an outsider looking in at times, but mostly standing with my back to the window.  I have written this before, but I care to not go back and link to these posts.  I noted my refusal to accept 'our' eventual fate.  I run from it, both literally and figuratively.  My quickening pace temporarily erases these thoughts.  Only when I slow down or stop, everything rushes back, flooding my head as if I was beginning to drown.

Tonight, like most nights, I tucked my two angels into bed.  My youngest requested that her prayer be said again.  I knelt at the side of her bed and leaned over her, resting my elbows alongside her waist.  She grabbed my face with her warm hands to cradle my face while I recited her prayer.  With her intense eyes, she focused on my lips, watching their every move.  An 'Amen' closed our moment, soon after,
sealed with a kiss.  I walked away, holding on to her emotion, knowing that one day this will all be over.

Sometime soon, again, these thoughts will blend back into the wallpaper of my soul, but for now, tomorrow, I will run faster.

And add tissues to my Sunday grocery list.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I'm Never Going to Run Again

Last year was a big year for my running.  I greatly improved my speed and endurance which helped me make great strides (no pun) when it came to placing in my age group.  I secretly vowed to repeat or better my 3rd Place AG finish in the 2015 Emmaus 4 Miler, but nailing 4th in my AG (and no PR) in the St. Pats 5K a few weeks ago didn't sit well with me.  Sure I ran hard and actually sat in the same place of my AG as the previous year; I didn't feel ready.
Staying true to everything that encapsulates 'Muffin Madness', I raised the bar on my 2015 goals.  Of course, shaving time from 'signature' races is ideal I have my sights set on something much bigger than that.  After a great 2014 NYC Marathon finish, considering the weather and the course, I wanted to try my hand (or should it be feet?) at qualifying for the Boston Marathon at the Lehigh Valley Health Network Marathon for Via in September 2015.  Great, there it is in print.  
The Emmaus 4 Mile Classic is the last race before marathon training.  A good run here would emotionally give me a little boost.  I've been spending time investigating a lot of training plans and even looking at options of hiring a coach.  I know that my time with the Crazies is going to diminish, temporarily, while I shift my training from logging miles to kicking the shit out of myself.  I'm looking forward to taking this to the next level.  
But I digress.  Today, I ran the Emmaus 4 Mile Classic.  
The hubbs left early this morning for a business trip.  I solicited my Mom to hang with the girls while I ran.  To my surprise, my Dad also came to the race.  I orchestrated the morning routine with some rolling/stretching, caffeine and a great, light breakfast before getting myself and the girls dressed.  I got to the local high school in less than 10 minutes with about 45 minutes to spare.  Everything seemed to fall apart from there.  I forgot the cowbell, which translated to the girls' disappointment; my watch wasn't working, which translated to my own disappointment.  I feared a fast start which would make me crash and burn half way through; my watch, at least for this morning, would be my pacer, but clearly that wasn't happening.  Crap.  I had to pee again, I felt disoriented and to top it all off, I felt the need to put on a good show for my Dad.  He's always proud — not sure what I needed to prove here.  
When the time was right, another Crazy and I toed the line.  Well, maybe not the line, but we were maybe 4 people deep?  We lined up behind 'buns' (this blondie with the longest legs in the world), ready to rock.  About 1 minute before take off the crowd was injected by shaved chest man.  The humor in this situation helped ease the tension in my shoulders, and the same within my head.  With virtually no warning, we were off.  
In the 2014 Classic, I lined up behind Jane and followed her groovy shirt until I, surprisingly, passed her on a hill.  Jane wasn't there and I had no such person in my prevue.  I thought I could follow buns for a while, but that lasted all of about 2 1/2 minutes; she was fast (wound up finishing 2nd female overall).  I panicked: I wanted to repeat, I wanted to find that high again; I wanted, I wanted, I wanted.  What I NEEDED was to chill the fuck out; this mental tornado was screwing with a good run.  Race or not, I was out in the sunshine; I should have just let it be Sunday, but sometimes I suck like that.  About 1 1/2 miles into this race, I hated running, again.
I chuckled at myself since this is a feeling that's all too familiar:
I hate running.
Everything sucks.
I should stop running.
I'm not going to BQ Via.  That's just a dumb thought.  
I taste blood.
I can stop to puke, that's pretty hardcore.
Is this over?
Without my watch, I couldn't determine my pace, but I knew, at least for the first half, I was working hard.  I doubted my ability to continue.  At each intersection, manned by someone of authority in a reflective vest, I wanted to stop and request an ambulance.  At the second water stop (stationed mid hill), I wanted to grab a cup and walk.  By the time I crested that hill, I felt a wave of nausea and visualized myself puking down the front of my shirt.  With a hard swallow, I pressed on, doing none of the above.  There is NO WAY that I can train my ass off to BQ.  No.Way.  I should just surrender and leisurely train for Via (by no means am I insinuating that marathon training purely to finish is a leisure activity).  I can't do this.  I hate running.  I looked back to see a decent gap between me and the next runner; I just needed to maintain my pace, whatever that really was.
I hit Berger Street for one last climb to the downhill back to the high school.  As my right foot crossed the virtual crest, I unleashed my legs and let them rip.  I rounded the corner left and caught a few men while wiggling myself curbside; we rounded the next corner right to see another Crazy cheering me on (she ran a solid 10 miles yesterday — good girl).  Knowing that the final turn towards finish was in sight, I kicked hard outrunning three runners to finish just over 29 minutes.  The race isn't chip timed, so we needed to stay in finishing order.  I held on to the gentleman in front of me as I ripped my tag off my bib.  I gently pushed him forward through the chute praying he would not come to a dead halt.  I needed to keep moving or the world would have stopped turning.  I grabbed a bottle of water before walking back to my fan club.  I wanted nothing more than to have my girls hold onto my legs.
If I set a PR it was only by a few seconds (official results not yet available).
I did repeat my 3rd Place AG Finish.
I guess I'll reframe and go into marathon training with a positive outlook.
Coffee always tastes better out of a winner's mug.

The cream and sugar

Thursday, April 2, 2015


The past few weeks have been absolutely nuts at work.  I shifted into a new role managing an area that I know a whole lot of 'not much' about.  It's been a challenge getting up to speed on everything from the people, the opportunities and the lingo, but I'm feeling a little more comfortable.  I'm expending a lot of energy during the work day; the hours fly by.  My mind is in a sort of marathon training — each day I'm able to endure a longer meeting, or a more difficult scenario, but after that training is over, I'm ready to just collapse.  
I quickly discovered that I would need to keep myself in check to save both my own soul and my delicate family.  I'm creeping away from Facebook and my other social media guilty pleasures in an effort to make better use of my 'free time'.  I rekindled my relationship with some podcasts and have been listening to them in the car, or if I can grab ten minutes over lunch.  Sometime last week, I tuned into Another Mother Runner's podcast with Kristin Armstrong.  While I have my own reservations on listening to anything Kristin has to say (sounds like another blog post), I pressed play.  I know, from past books/podcasts, that Kristin professes her spirituality.  Again, regardless of my hesitations, I enjoyed the interview.  She started talking about her morning routine which includes sitting down with a cup of coffee (priority) and her journal to document a gratitude for the day.  

"I am grateful for...because..."

The identified item/person, etc. doesn't have to be anything earth shattering, rather, it's presents 'you' the writer with a simple focus/meditation for the day.  I really liked that.  
So, I started a few of my own that I'd like to share.  My gratitudes weren't identified, in most cases, early in the morning, but they still transformed my day.  

3/27/15 — *I am grateful for the hustle and bustle of Allentown because it reminds me of the vibrance the city once had during my childhood and marries it with my days in New York City.*  On that Friday, I arrived at a newer Allentown restaurant early enough before the other party joined me.  I sat, in silence, sipping water while watching the city come alive during the lunch hour.  

3/28/15 — *I am grateful for my legs because they have the power to carry me through miles of rolling hills.*  During the Kutztown 10 miler, I started to round the bend of an upward climb and immediately thought of the amazing push that brewed in my body.  I meditated upon the farms and beautiful landscape.  It was on that hill that I honored my legs that could move me forward.  

3/29/15 — *I am grateful for family time because we can make memories together.*  We took the girls on a hike at Trexler Nature Preserve.  So granola, but we enjoyed our time in nature.  Not once, did I feel 'I'd rather be running the red trail than walking the green.'

4/1/15 — *I am grateful for my girls because: their hair, smiles,'s so easy to lose focus...and then, is it too late?*  I'll keep the background to myself.  

4/2/15 — *I am grateful for Jane's Addiction because the music reminds me of summer evenings and hopeful feeling of freedom.*  I heard this song tonight on my way home from the girls' swim lessons. This band was a piece of my life's soundtrack the summer before college.  I spent the time hanging with a small group of friends focused on developing our independence.  It's a point in time I recall being so free — no responsibility, no dependencies, no cares.  

We walk the path together.