Gathering Good Thoughts

I have been thinking about this post for a few weeks now. On many of my runs it has come in and out of my thoughts. I will think about it for a bit, get emotional, and have to let it go. Now it is time to write it. It will be a reminder for myself and my boys just what this upcoming race means to me.

When I first started running 6 years ago I would have never guessed that this is where I would have ended up. I had lost 40 pounds from 9 months of pregnancy and grief eating. I had been through therapy and knew I needed time for myself. Exercise seemed like a great way to do that. I could explain the time away from my kids to my own guilting brain… getting fit was benefitting them. I plugged away on the elliptical for months.

You can’t run. You never could. You were one of the last to finish the mile in school. You are not a runner. You’ll look like an idiot. You will be huffing and puffing, turning bright red. You will never feel like those people do when they run so easily.

These were my own private thoughts when I would walk by the treadmills. Finally, I decided…

Fuck it. I can do whatever I want.

And I spent a lot of time huffing and puffing and turning bright red. But something in me wanted to do this. I have thought over and over about what may have been pushing me to run? Why running? Matt was running a bit here and there, but had to stop because of his knees. Maybe that’s what put the thought in my head. Maybe.

Or maybe it was the warm thoughts of being at the track. I have very clear memories of taking my dolls to the track with my mom and watching my brother compete. I remember wandering around the bleachers; walking along the cinders, kicking them as I went; and cheering for my brother. To this day I still love the track. As soon as I hit the lanes I feel at home. I never ran track, not even close. But it calls to me. And there are many summer days on my runs when I imagine my brother running with me. What it would have been like, were he still around, to race together or just meet up for an easy run?  There are some runs when I have pictured him so perfectly next to me that I would have to look and make sure it was a dream. I have broken down in tears amidst a hard workout because I realize it is and always will be just a figment of my imagination.

Or maybe it was the deep desire to have some time to sort out loss. The runs when I would think about what my mom would have said about how to handle parenting problems. The workouts that were fueled by the memories I was the only one left to carry. Times when I realized just how alone in this world I was because the remaining family I had was trying to erase my mom from history. All the long treks where I could sift through my decisions and making sure I was okay with each one I made.

Or maybe it was that I needed my early mornings to release the anger and hurt I had towards my dad. All the times when I felt abandoned, yes, even at 35 years old. Maybe I needed the quiet to settle those immature feelings and put myself in his place. I could ignore all of reality and put my own feelings aside, inserting his desires for how he wanted his last days. Have the time to realize all his mistakes stemmed from all his pain. Also, to learn from that mistake and not fall into that dark hole myself.

Or maybe it was the fast and hard runs I needed to stop the pain in my heart. Sometimes a sharp pain and sometimes a deep ache in my heart. It was always over my helplessness.  The helplessness I held for a baby that I was uncertain would live to see a year. Or the time sweating buckets to wash away my fear of what life would mean for this baby, were he to survive all that was thrown his way. Or the glorious sun rises when I was reminded that every day is a gift with this baby, so stop worrying, stop fearing, stop wanting to control it and just enjoy it. The deep, deep exhales when I could let go of needing to control what cannot be controlled.

Or maybe it was that 4:30 alarms weren’t so early because I was already tossing and turning over thinking about all the things I missed. I forgot the note in their lunch boxes. There wasn’t time to play Uno after school. I could only read off spelling words while doing dishes. Would Cale miss that bed time story we had to forgo? All the guilty feelings. I couldn’t let one boy’s situation cost my other boys their mama time. I could use my runs to stack what I had to do. Set up a mental organizer in order to jam as much in a day as I could.

For me, it is all of these things. Getting the honor of running Boston is the culmination of it all. I don’t know if I would have trained hard enough, run fast enough, pushed further, if it were not for all of these things. So, Boston is the tie that pulls it all together for me. It will be a very emotional day. I will be running for all of these things.

For the strength I had to make the choices I made.
For the dedication to my boys.
For the honor of my family I have had to put to rest.
For the confidence to know what I had to do.
For the insight to learn to let go.
For the passion for life and goodness.
For the love of my little family.

On Monday I will carry with me my mom’s ring on my finger, my dad’s dog tag on my necklace, my brother’s guitar pick in my pocket, and a charm my boys’ helped me imprint their initial on in my hair. I wouldn’t have made it to race day without any of these things. Nor without the love and support of my best friend in life, Matt. My token for him could be my wedding band or engagement ring, but it’s not. My memento of him is silent and strong and always in my heart.

Race Mementos

Reflections Over Boston

One Boston

Today is One Boston Day.  At 2:49 ET this afternoon a moment of silence will be honored to pay respects to all the individuals effected by the bombings in 2013.  On that day the Boston Marathon took on a whole new meaning for runners.  Even those of us far away from the race were shook by the blasts of those bombs.

I remember the day so very clearly.  The night before I posted my picture of the day.  I was attempting a 365.  That day the word to capture was inspiration.  My post was dedicated to the runners.  As I stated in that post, the race was, is, and always will be a source of inspiration for me.  The next morning I “raced” home from school drop off to catch up with the live recording of the marathon.  I couldn’t wait to watch Shalane and Kara run.  I was texting my running partner, Tim, the details of the race since he was working.  It was thrilling to watch these American women take 2 of the top 5 spots.

And then I went about my day.

Lunch for Perry.
Playing trains.
Pick up the kitchen.
Trip to Costco.
Stop to get gas.

And then I got the text from Tim. Clearly confused, he asked whether I knew anything about bombings at the marathon.

WHAT?!?

I turned on NPR as I drove home to get my boys from school. I listened in horror as the beautiful race I had watched that morning was besmirched by violence.

For runners, the race, any race, is a moment of joy.  It is a competition against another and/or ourselves, for sure.  But even more it is when we collect as one unit and engage in our favorite activity.  The race is a celebration.  

Celebrating our training.
Celebrating our bodies that allow us to push further and faster.
Celebrating our sweat over months of hard work.  
Celebrating our love for the act of running.

It is overwhelming sometimes being in such a large group of people who understand a piece of you so intimately.  Especially since it is a group of complete strangers.  When out on a run there are fleeting moments when you pass another runner. You look at each other, maybe wave or nod, but you see yourself in them. There is a camaraderie.  You can sense that they get you and you get them.  Running is so deep in us, runs through our souls like a deep gorge that can never be filled.  On a lone long run you maybe get 4 or 5 moments when you feel that connection.

In a race, however, it is all around you.  Before you even line up at the start, your skin is tingling, heart racing, and face hurting from smiling so broad because this connection to the sport, and those who love it, is all around you.

On that day 2 years ago EVERYONE was angry, saddened, and shocked over a shear act of violence.  EVERYONE felt the rage and sorrow of the victims.  But for runners and the city of Boston there was even more loss.  It felt like someone was trying to destroy this time honored tradition of cheer.   Someone was trying to obliterate that runner’s connection.  It was unimaginable that someone would choose this day, of all days, to commit such atrocities.  It seemed unthinkable that someone could try to strip the joy from us.  It was very personal to most runners.  It didn’t feel like a political statement or an act of religious violence.  It felt like our gala and parade were being threatened.  Our people, be them runners or spectators (they are just as important in our races), were being assaulted.

That’s why runners were, and are, so adamant that those criminals would not take our race away.  We stood with Boston, wanting to hold them up and tell them not to be afraid.  We would not cower in the face of scare tactics.  We would stand with Boston, look those terrorists in the eye, and tell them they could not control us.  Our race, our city, our people would not fall to them.  However, it was Boston, the city who has celebrated us for 119 years, who showed us how to be strong.  The city rallied for us.  The city has shown strength and their continued love of  running and this grand race.  Today, whether you are in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, or little old Boise, Idaho take a minute in your day, at 2:49 pm, and stand together as One Boston.

First Day in Daycare

We have never had any of our children in daycare, but now the dog has been to daycare.  Sadie had to spend the day at Camp Bow Wow in preparation of her stay while we are in Boston.  I would love to say that I  missed her, but to be honest Perry and I had a great day.  We have been unable to stay out for long periods of time because she still has accidents.  It was so nice to run outside with Perry, throw rocks in the river and explore the river bed, have coffee with Matt, and get our shopping done.  We then had Marley’s last track meet and the whole time never had to worry about what I would be coming home to in her kennel.  I wouldn’t trade you for the world, Sadie.  Nor send you to Camp Bow Wow unless it was necessary.  But please let’s get this kennel thing down.

Girly

For the Fun of It

Marley has proclaimed himself not a runner.  He was hesitant to even try track.  I encouraged him to do it just for the experience.  I wanted him to try running, but also jumping and throwing.  Maybe he would find something that he loved.  Who knows!

Jump

Well, jumping and throwing were a bust.  The thing he liked most of all was running.  Well, who would have guessed.  It’s not his favorite thing to do, but maybe these little experiences will build into a bigger one as he gets older.  He has a great stride…

Dash for 60
Relay

Shoe Drop

During training I am always waiting. What am I waiting for?  I am waiting for the injury. For the tightness of a major muscle.  Or soreness of a body part that lingers just a bit too long. Or the tendon flaming up in anger because it has endured one run more than it was ready to give. Sometimes it happens right in the beginning. Piling on those miles, to get a nice high base, often aggravates things. Sometimes it is right in the middle when the speed starts to amp up. Speed often tweaks something that just wasn’t ready to be tweaked.  Sometimes it happens over time. A little niggle ignored because training must go on. Sometimes you twist, tug, pull something and you know just in that moment.

After my last long run on Sunday I was feeling a bit worried. Nothing yet. I know crazy to be worried about it NOT happening.  When was this shoe going to drop?  Maybe there would be no shoe?  Maybe it would be a race day shoe. Oh God. That is probably the worst shoe there could be.

Then I ran yesterday.  Just a moderate 6 on the treadmill. Nothing exciting. Nothing major. But enough to put my plantar fasciitia into a tailspin. I have had plantar fasciitis before. My first half marathon I had it in the arch of my right foot. I trained with it and it healed before the race. It took weeks, but it did heal. This time it is in the heel of my right foot. It’s just brewing. I took today off. It was just an easy 4 anyway. But tomorrow I have 10 on the training plan. Eight of which are at my goal pace. Not sure what to do. I know the run won’t make or break my race. The work is already in the bank for race day. But these kind of runs sharpen you for pacing. On the other hand, I have a rest day Saturday. Maybe if I give myself 3 days off I will be on the best road to recovery. (These are all my “devices to help plantar fasciitis heal.)

Heal Me

I’m not sure. My wings want to go.  I’ve been on the treadmill all week to either get sleep or because Matt has been out of town.  I need to hit the road running and get my run on.  You can run with plantar fasciitis and would 3 days really heal it?  Doubtful.  My head says play it safe. Be smart. This run won’t cost me any race time.  In fact, I will probably enjoy the race even more.  Not only in hopes that my foot won’t hurt, but next week Matt is gone again and the treadmill and I will rendezvous all week.  A nice long run outside will be just what I need.

I’m leaning more towards my head.  I have been going that route this entire training cycle.  Taking all the knowledge I have gained about running and actually utilizing it.  Not thinking I am above or beyond it.  If it works for millions of other runners, I am no different.  Plus there is more to lose at this point by running on it.  This little ache just happened to hit at the sweet spot in my training.  The hard work is done, but I still have time to loosen up the legs before race day.  It sucks that I didn’t make it through training without any issues.  I guess that’s just part of training.  At least I know where all my shoes are now.

The Little Things

A New Food

Perry started feeding therapy today.  The therapist is a miracle worker.  Truly.

In the evaluation she found that Perry’s muscle tightness in his jaw, as well as a tight tongue was probably why he could never nurse.  It also partly leads to his eating problems today.

Jennifer, the therapist, got Perry to eat a raisin on his own accord during that evaluation.  He gagged, but he did eat that one.  Now that we have some assistance with therapies for Perry, since our private insurance covers none of these therapies, we have started treatment.  Today was our first day.  Not only did Perry eat a raisin, but kept eating raisins.  He took this small dixie cup of raisins with him in the car and continued to eat them.  He then picked it up after dinner and finished the rest.

I’m sure it won’t always be this easy, but I am in awe.

Celebrating 7 Years

Plainmama turns 7 today.

7 Years

Hard to believe this blog has been going for 7 years. In that time I have recorded 1639 days of memories for my boys.  That’s what keeps me going some days.  The days I read posts to them and they laugh.  Or when they remember because I wrote down the story.  Their memory is so fragile.  To keep knitting this safety net so they don’t lose them forever is my main motivation.

Happy Birthday Plainmama.