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Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Category

Ever since college (which is WAY longer ago than I care to admit), I’ve had this crazy idea about having a pay-per-minute business where people dial in to get excellent rationalizations for their crises of conscience.  Seriously.  I could spin you a perspective that could make you sound GREAT, even if you’d just done something downright dastardly.  People would end up thanking you for what you’d done.

Not that I encourage bad behavior, mind you.  I don’t.  But somehow, I always seem to find the good in people, the silver-lining if you will, and I figured that 1-900-RATIONALIZATION would be the way to get entrepreneurial with that endearing trait.

Years later, I grew up (a little) and determined that making a buck off of helping others shirk their responsibilities and behave like morons probably wasn’t the best way to earn a living.  (My apologies to my attorney friends who have no issue doing this on a regular basis.) 

But even though I’ve managed to squash the notion of making money off of helping others blame-shift, I still struggle with that part of me that (sadly) considers spinning an art form.  And I find myself practicing this by applying my rationalization prowess to my own foibles.  Responsible Shannon and Rationalizing Shannon are continually duking it out.

With that background in mind, I will now confess: 

I Did Not Run On Wednesday. 

*GASP*

 (Photo Credit)

And away we go:

Responsible Shannon (Our Hero):  You really should have run today.

Rationalizing Shannon (Our Rat):  How could I have run today?  I was really busy.

Hero:  You got up and even put on your running clothes before you went to that teacher meeting with Ninja’s teachers.

Rat:  Yeah, but I didnt’ have a clue what WordPress was going to be doing.

Hero:  You really need to stop adjusting your plan for the day based on the actions of others, even if they are really exciting and great.

Rat:  But they were really exciting and great.

Hero:  Are you even listening to me?

Rat:  But WordPress put this blog on its Freshly Pressed page.  There were, like, a bazillion visits.  It was like winning the freaking blogging lottery!  I was really, really busy!

Hero:  What exactly did you have to DO with those *ahem* bazillion hits?

Rat:  Well, I kinda watched those stats go stinking crazy practically all day.  *blush*

Hero:  What?!  You’ve got WAY too much on your plate to be sitting in front of a computer screen all day, stat-watching!  You might as well be watching paint dry.

Rat:  Hellooooo!  This is FRESHLY PRESSED, for heaven’s sake.  Clearly, Hero, you are clueless.

Hero:  Call names all you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that you missed your run in order to sit in front of the computer spellbound watching your blog go berserk. 

Rat:  And your point is? 

Hero:  What did you accomplish today?  What made this a day worth having?

Me:  Well, I remembered that I was a writer.  I posted something that made lots of people laugh and encouraged people in a bunch of ways.  I figure I just can’t ignore what happened on WordPress today.  It was a pretty big deal for Go Mommy!

Rat:  That’s what I was trying to say.

Hero:  Okay.  I’ll cut you a break this time.  Did you write thank you notes?

Me:  To the people who visited Go Mommy?

Hero:  Of course.

Me:  Are you kidding?  There were over 2400 visits to the blog today, alone! 

Hero:  Okay, perhaps a group thank you would do.

So here it is:

Thanks so much for visiting Go Mommy!  And thanks to WordPress for showcasing our blog.  And thanks for all the support from those who’ve known me well these past years.  What an amazing welcome–back to Blog Land–back home.

And as for the running, I’ll be hitting the road tomorrow.   At last.  Crazy, record-breaking stats and 900-number rationalizations not withstanding. 

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I hate thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve sat down to write here.  Even now, I feel like I’m sitting down with a long, lost friend.  It’s great to be back.  Thanks for missing me.  I’ve missed you, too.

You know this.  Moms-Who-Run wear many hats.  You can wear lots of them at once.  But not all of them.  Still, it’s easy to forget that your head is only so big and only so many hats will fit up there.

Photo Credit

Then, when Life lifes you, as mine has this past year, you realize what’s most important.  And those are the hats you wear.  And those are the things you do. 

So it was that as a Mother-Runner-Daughter-Wife-Writer-Teacher-Reader-Student-Knitter-Saleswoman-Public Speaker-Trainer-Cheerleader-Chauffer-Cleaning Committee Member-Moving Crew Member-Chief Laundress-Referee-Wound Treater-Hug Giver-God Lover-and Glue that Holds It All Together for My Family, with the application of enough pressure, heartache and disaster, some of these hats had to be taken off and thrown onto the pile with the dirty laundry for awhile.   

If you asked my daughters, they’d tell you exactly what I need:  “You need to run.  And you need coffee.  After God and us, of course.  And your running is good for all of us, Mom.  Seriously.  Same with the coffee.”

So what does Mom-Who-Runs do?

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with financial disaster, she runs. 

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with heartbreak, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with the loss of a home, a friend, a dream, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs realizes she can no longer write, knit, dance, play, because there truly is no longer time for these luxuries, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is faced with ending her kids’ homeschool experience and putting her kids back in traditional school in order to get a job and help her family survive, she runs. 

When Mom-Who-Runs has a husband in intensive care, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs hears her own mother and number one support system has been diagnosed with stage three cancer, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs switches roles and cares for the mother who’s sacrificed so much caring for her all these years, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs gets to pack and move an entire household with her own hands and the help of her two cherubs and a few very loving friends who come through when it counts, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs gets to choke back her own sorrow while she wipes the tears from her daughters’ eyes as they say goodbye to the only home they’ve ever known, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs turns into a puddle (finally breaking down under the pressure) just because someone has been nice to her, she runs.

When Mom-Who-Runs is surprised by her own medical diagnosis, shares it with her boss, and is fired coincidentally the next day, she runs. 

And she runs.  And she runs.  And she runs.

And she loves her children and her God with a love that is fierce.

And she runs.

And if she doesn’t run, then you know that something is wrong.  And if you love her, you move heaven and earth to get her back on the road or the trail or the treadmill again.

Because the running will bring her back.

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During the time I’ve been away, I’ve run a full marathon, two half-marathons, an ultra and several 5Ks and trail races.  I’ve logged hundreds of miles.  I really haven’t gotten any faster or skinnier. 

But thanks to the running and my kids and the prayers of my family and friends, I am BACK.  Along with my Writer Hat.  And I think we might just stay awhile. 

 

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I started running in the very warm weather.  At the time, the key training issues for me were strategic hydration and forcing myself to haul my body out of bed to run at the crack of dawn to beat the morning heat.  I remember wondering vaguely about how I was going to handle running in the elements, but secretly considering the thought that icky weather would be my excuse to avoid running. 

Then I met Dotty.  Yes, the same Dotty that filled my mind with visions of the Virginia Beach Half Marathon and enticed me to register for the 26.2 with Donna Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer.  That one.  When I found out she had been a distance runner for many years, I asked her about how she handled rain, wind and snow.  She shocked me with her response.  As I recall, it went something like this:

I run every day it’s on my training schedule and I always run outside.  The only reason I would not run outside would be if there was lightning. 

Two or three seasons full of running excuses, blown to smithereens in about 20 seconds of conversation!  And yet how awesome was that?  With snow on the ground even?  Yep.  Even when it’s really, really cold?  Yes.  Pouring rain?  As long as there’s no lightning.  How on earth do you do that?  Just have the right gear and go. 

Wow.

So, I figured this was probably a gold standard for outdoor runners and, since I hate the treadmill, I immediately adopted this as my standard too. 

Now, you may recall that in our neck of the woods we have had a really, really rainy Fall.  In fact, as of today, there are still crops in fields locally that have not been able to be harvested because the ground is too wet.  It has been one rainy season!  Interestingly, I have not had one run cancelled due to lightning.  I’ve watched for it, but all this rain has produced almost zero lightning.  So on I ran. 

Then in the late Fall, the weather began to do something famous for our area of the Midwest.   It started to get COLD.  The shorts and cropped running pants had done just fine so far, but what now?  I’d already learned that the wicking material did wonders to stop the chub rub.  What to do about those frozen legs? 

Enter Coach Shelly:

Me:  What kind of gear am I going to need for the winter?  I don’t plan on dealing with that stinking treadmill unless I absolutely have to and I’m afraid I’ll lose my mind cooped up inside the gym all winter.

Shelly:  There are some things you’ll want, for sure. 

Friend [Anonymous friend, we’ll just call her Chris for this post, offering her thoughts]:  Hey, I like the treadmill and the gym.  Could do without that creepy gym guy, however.

Me:  I think all gyms must have a creepy gym guy.

[Random conversation about gyms, creeps, and other Very Important Girl Talk that ensues when girlfriends are having important conversation about things like Gear.]

Me:  What were we talking about?  Oh yeah, what gear do I need to avoid the gym this winter and still keep training?

Shelly:  You’ll need a long sleeve wicking shirt made for cold weather, something for your head, gloves, and you’ll want some compression pants.

Me:  Compression pants?  Are ya kidding?  Like those skin-tight things that real runners wear?

Image Credit  (and before you ask, NO these are NOT my legs…Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.  No.)

Shelly:  [cheerily] Yes, those are the ones.

Me:  Um…No Way.  There is No Way I am putting this behind into something like that and running around my hometown terrifying innocent bystanders.  There could be an accident or something.  I would have to slither through the streets under cover of darkness.  I simply Couldn’t Do It. 

Shelly:  I know, they look terrible, but they work wonderfully and they are absolutely worth it.  They will allow you to run in very cold temperatures and there is zero chub rub with these things.

Me:  That is because they are SKIN TIGHT!

Shelly:  If you really had to, you would wear a pair of shorts over them.  Either way, it is something you really should consider. 

Me:  No.

Chris:  No.

Shelly:  Well, it’s up to you.  Maybe you’ll change your mind later.

I can tell you that I struggled against the compression pants for weeks and weeks.   Finally, I took the plunge and bought a pair of the hideous things.  I put off wearing them for a long, long time.  Always able to find a way to run when it was a little warmer. 

Then I found myself in 30 degree weather the morning of the Indianapolis 5K (yet another race that Chris had talked me into!) and there was no getting around the compression pants.  I pulled the suckers on and, grateful that I’d remembered to bring the little black shorts to yank on over the top, to protect the unsuspecting public, I ran my first race in the compression pants. 

And to my complete surprise, I had my Very Best Time Ever for a 5K.  The pants kept me warm without overheating.  And they didn’t rub or twist or bunch around.  These things were great! 

They still looked hideous, mind you.  But they were great! 

Since then, the hideous compression pants have become like an old friend.  They accompany me on most of my runs, especially when the temperature is under 40 degrees.  They’ve been on long runs and short runs, uphill and downhill, on the street and on the trail. 

If I get the nerve, I’ll find and post a picture of the Indy 5K compression pants maiden voyage here.   But it ain’t pretty.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

And I find myself, again surprised and saying:  Shelly, you were right!

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Hurray! 

As of Monday, I’ve officially traversed over 500 miles while training for various races!  I’ve gone from being a complete couch-potato to a Mom-Who-Runs.  And I’m so grateful to the people who have encouraged, guided, coached, prodded, and tricked me into and along this journey! 

NEVER would I have imagined at the beginning of this year that I would have participated in a half marathon, an ultra, several 5Ks, and logged 500 miles while training for them all.  NEVER would I have imagined it on May 1st!  Indeed, I logged my first mile on May 19, 2009. 

I am amazed at how much this adventure has changed me.  I know beyond a doubt that I am one blessed lady and the first 500 have made me even more determined about the next 500! 

2010 has BIG things in store for me, running-wise, assuming all continues to go well.  Thanks for joining me on this adventure and helping me celebrate the 500 milestone!  If I can do it, anybody can do it.  Here’s to all of our success!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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I am planning on celebrating this holiday in the same way I celebrate everything special these days:  by going for a run!  I have a 10-miler scheduled for this weekend, so since I have no intention of hauling this body through the fine streets of our little community while full of the feast I fully intend to devour later today, I opted to get out there and go before our family meal. 

It’s supposed to be rainy and snowy.  What a wonderful mess!  I sure hope it stays that way. 

So, in lieu of Long Run Friday, Presenting…Long Run Thursday!

Away we go!

THE PLAN:  10 mile run today.  Gotta try and get done early enough to be useful for the Thanksgiving preparations. 

PREDICTION:  Awesome, of course.

THE REALITY:  To be determined.  I’ll update you all afterwards, assuming I survive.

[UPDATE]:

Awesome 10 mile run in 37 degree drizzly weather!  I was able to finish at my 5 mile pace, which surprised me a lot, since I didn’t look at my watch the entire time.  Also didn’t need to stop at Mom’s HalfWay House Potty Stop, just kept right on running the entire way!  Definitely needed the trail shoes (cold, rain) and the gloves and thermal headband today!

Also tried out a hydration belt, which worked pretty well, but I’ve got to figure out an easier way to snap those little bottles back into their carriers.  It was great having my hands free and still having access to fluids and my beans. 

I keep thinking about how grateful I am that my family has made it possible for me to get out there and go on these long runs.  I couldn’t do this training without their support.  Just so much to be thankful for.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thankgiving, full of the people, places, things and memories for which you’re truly grateful!

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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.   ~Theodore Roosevelt

Today was a “rest day” in my marathon training schedule.  But it wasn’t restful at all.  And I’m glad.

We spent the greater part of this day screaming our lungs out at our local high school, where our team, the Danville Vikings, were in the 6A state semi-finals.  An hour and a half before the game, the stands were packed.  Packed.

Not so long ago, our local program was in the cellar of the state.  Then native son, BJ Luke came home and accepted the head coaching position.  The team began to win and Viking Fever was epidemic.  The entire community embraced the team and rallied around these players.  Their hard work, their passion, their toughness, their fight, their refusal to quit was contagious.  The entire community has a shared pride in these valiant young men, whose efforts went way beyond football and caused hope to burn bright in our little corner of the world. 

I pass this house on most of my training runs. Funny thing. After seeing this sign, I don't give slowing down or stopping a second thought.

You would have thought they’d won.  Sadly, the Vikings were defeated in today’s game.  After the clock wound down and the season was over, the crowd grew still and…didn’t leave.  The crowd waited quietly until the Viking players had respectfully choked back their personal heartbreak and congratulated their opponents.  Then as the team turned to run back to their locker room, the crowd erupted in a roar of pride and encouragement. 

This team had given our town so much hope and passion and vision.  This undefeated season had been a win for the entire community.  Written-off, and yet, coming back and winning.  Again and again and again.  Underestimated, and yet, giving it all.  Again and again and again.  These young men reminded us all that it is possible to overcome obstacles and be victorious.  They reminded us what it means to be valiant. 

And for the next days, weeks and months, we’re going to have a whole lot of valiant people in this community.  Valiant teachers.  Valiant runners.  Valiant parents.  Valiant secretaries.  Valiant waitresses.  Valiant students.  Working hard.  Giving it all.  Refusing to quit.  Exceeding expectations.  Setting new standards.  Working and playing with heart. 

For that, this community owes Coach Luke, his staff, and especially each member of the DHS Vikings a debt of gratitude.

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seasons[1]

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In years past, I looked up from my mad racing about pace (not running, just racing around) and noticed that the gorgeous splash of fall color was gone and the trees were bare. 

What happened?  How had I missed it? 

I also missed much of the beauty of the heavy snow covering the tree branches, not to mention the big, huge, sloppy snowflakes that looked like a kindergartener could have painted them with white paint and a big, wide paintbrush.  The magnolia trees lost their pink buds before I could really appreciate them.  Summers flew by. 

This year has been different.  And in the past few weeks, I actually realized that I was seeing what I’d been missing for many years.

A runner sees the splash of sunshine that travels across the red and orange-trimmed trees and bounces of the lake in a sliver on an otherwise cloudy day.  A runner has the chance to run on a blanket of golden leaves and under trees still heavy-laden with their yellow fall bounty, like running through an autumn cloud.  A runner appreciates the difference in the landscape and how far you can actually see through the trees when their summer garments have fallen. 

I hadn’t even noticed what I’d been missing. 

It’s only been in the past few weeks, when my runs have finally become more than avoiding collapsing, that I’ve been able to relax enough to take in the beauty of the world around me.  I find myself each day looking forward to seeing, hearing and even smelling the adventures in store for me that day. 

And I’ve found myself grateful, so grateful, for the privilege of putting one foot in front of the other, in a body that can move itself forward, with a mind and will that can choose to continue to get out there each day, and with a spirit that can offer up a prayer of faith and appreciation and celebration for the blessings that God has given me, with a whispered, “Wow.  Look at God.”

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