Sunday, October 25, 2015

A nice little Sunday morning

The alarm woke me up at 6:06 this morning so I could pull on some running tights and a shirt and lace up my trail shoes. And by alarm, I mean a literal alarm from the early 90s that is plugged into my wall, not a phone like the rest of the tech-loving universe, and, unlike every other day, not my 2 year old. 

My mom took the four kiddos overnight for much dancing and fancy partying at a wedding party because she is a rockstar and a brave, wonderful nana. Her reward for giving them a night of partying was a sleep deprived toddler who woke her up at 3 am, 5 am, and was up for the day at 6:30. 

I got all dressed, found my mom's keys, and went to take the dog out. SCREEEEEECCCCHHHHH. The low growl from Bear and the silhouette of a 14 point elk let me know Bear was going to have to wait to do his morning business and that I was going to have to remain calm getting to the car. I put Bear back in the kitchen, (side note: Bear doesn't need to go in his kennel overnight. He can sleep in the kitchen and we trust him not to jump and claw and try to terrorize the room overnight. What a big boy!) and headed back outside. The elk watched me. I didn't whimper. He was big and close, but I had my first post-marathon run to attend and the setting was divine, so Mr. Elk was not going to stop me. Unless he really wanted to stop me, in which case I would have busted butt back to the house. It's the elk's world; I'm just living in it. OK, enough about the elk. Time to get back to that divine setting. I was meeting a friend and a few new friends, because that's how runners roll, at a beautiful trail and the sun would rise as we ran the trails. 

The run was hard. Five miles of tough, hilly, and kind of technical trails will do that to a person who hasn't really run in three months, aside from the little thing of a marathon! (Two phrases come to mind: 1-Go big or go home. 2-Do as I say and not as I do.)

We're running. It is glorious. Hard, but glorious. The three faster people are up ahead and there are three of us bringing up the rear. Renee, who I just met this morning, went to college and grad school in Wisconsin, so we were talking about the upper midwest and Jennifer, who I've met before, asked about my marathon, particularly about the breathing aspect of my marathon. 

I told her everything was dandy until about mile 22. Seriously, it was almost all fun. The atmosphere was so supportive and loud and happy, I had the best cheerleaders in the world waiting for me at perfectly placed intervals, and I was running with my two best running friends. Sounds pretty fabulous, and it was, right up until the moment that my throat seized. I couldn't even speak. I tapped Kristen on the shoulder and did the universal sign for can't breathe, which involves wheezing and holding both hands around my neck. We stopped running, obviously, and I made a kind of paper bag shape out of my hands and breathed in as slowly as possible. I was fine after about a minute so we ran again, but then about a mile later it started. Finally it got to the point that as soon as I started running again I could not breathe. We walked for about 1.25 or 1.5 miles. Then at mile 25 we tried again and I finished the end of the race running. I have a pretty sweet, MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) recognized photo to prove we rocked the heck out of that finish line!
I like to point out that when my feet crossed the finish line, I was DONE running. Shaun and Kristen kept in stride. I stopped. I know what a finish line means and I was definitely finished! 

My new friend, Renee, who will someday know how much her words mean to me, said, "Wow. Talk about overcoming. What a huge challenge."

Simple words, really. But I heard her. More importantly, as I ran in the quiet of the trails after she spoke those words, I think I believed her. 

Maybe your spouse and best friend and mom have told you what a good job you did at something, but you're not sure if they say it because they have to and they think you do well at everything because it's their job as someone who loves you or if you really, truly did well. This stranger/new friend doesn't know me, has no vested interest in this situation, yet said what others have been telling me all along, but I've ignored with fingers-in-my-ears denial.

Everyone's finish line is different and often doesn't even involve running. For me, life parallels running and running parallels life. Everyone's journey to get to their finish line is marred with difficulties and wipe outs, splendid sunrises and moments of clarity. My marathon and the training that led up to it looked nothing like I expected. NOTHING! 

But you know what? I finished. I overcame. 

Sometimes that has to be enough for that day. For me, it won't be enough for forever, but it has to be enough for that day. Less than 10 minutes after crossing the finish line, I'd already said I'd be running more marathons. I don't know what that will look like. I can plan and hope, but at the end of the day, we can only do the best we can with what we have. And after exactly three weeks of what probably sounded like annoying whining, but for me was much sadness and a lot of soul searching, I can look myself in the mirror and say that on October 4, 2015 I ran the best race I could run with what I had. 

And that has to be enough. 

And it is.


  1. ELK?! Awesome!!!! I just had a weekend of girls, drinks, and food. I cannot wait to get a run in this week.

    1. Absolutely. We moved to the mountains where bear, elk, and cougars are our neighbors. Needless to say, I only run in the day time because that is not their prime hunting time. It is very different than the suburbs of MN!