Thursday, May 26, 2022

126th Boston Marathon

For years, even before I ever ran my first Boston marathon in 2015, I became completely infatuated with this race.  I don't know if I can actually pinpoint it to an exact day or timeframe that this happened, but I know its been in my heart and on my mind for a really long time.  The words Marathon Monday or even Patriots Day means something and gets me all excited and ramped up like a teenage girl screaming over the latest boyband.  I'm sure that my path to this was led by the discovery and fascination with marathon runner Ryan Hall which took me into the deep depths of marathon running.  Prior to that I really was a solid 5k person in terms of my own running and really only paid attention to track & field since I had run that in high school myself.  I did also run cross country in high school, but for some reason, I didn't have any exposure to the larger scope of this field other than what I ran in my high school years.

It would personally take me into my late 30s, now mid 40s before I would run the Boston marathon.  What's great about this race is that each runner has a unique and personal story that leads them to this time in their lives.  No matter what that journey looks like it's often viewed as a success and triumph in every way.  It's not exclusive to Boston, but often it is seen as the mecca of marathon running.  Anyway....I'll stop being all philosophical and give you my account & thoughts of my running of this year's Boston Marathon.

We arrived in Boston 3 days before the actual race.  By then we were pretty vacationed out and had done A LOT of sightseeing.  While we did some looking around I really just wanted to focus on everything surrounding the race.  Some of that was easy to combine, while other things just went undone/unseen.  The expo takes a big amount of time and I went through just about every inch of that place.  There were things to buy and just neat things to look at.  Its even just fun & fascinating to be surrounded by so many like minded people.  I like to people watch too!  I'm pretty sure I went by every booth more than once and just took it all in.  

It paid off when suddenly I saw someone standing by the Alta booth.  No big fanfare or attraction, but a person that I knew and immediately began fangirling over.  I tried my best to keep cool, but deep down I was having a major OMG moment.  My kids looked at me like I had just grown a third head and they were confused by my complete state of freaking out.  It was none other than Kara Goucher!!  I swear if you don't know who that is then don't ask me....just google it and impress me with such knowledge.  I'm kidding....I will tell you all about her once I stop giving you the ¨are you crazy¨ look.  Who doesn't know who Kara Goucher is?!?!?!  Ok, turns out a lot of people don't.  But in the world of Carmen Peterson she is amazingly everything.  One of my idols and role models that I completely respect and look up to.

She signed my shirt that I was wearing.  I'm never going to wash it!!


The next day we went back down to the expo to give it a final walk through and then around the finish line area.  There I was minding my own business when a crowd caught my eye and I look over and see 2 ladies taking pictures and signing autographs.  I once again went in to fan girl mode and took off to join the mob of people to vye for their attention.  My boyfriend is knowledgeable enough to know who I was freaking out about, but my kids and my dad were left clueless as I completely abandoned them in this pursuit.  This time it was Des Linden & Molly Seidel that I spotted.  If you know anything about me personally you know that if I fan about something then I fan hard.  If you could choose a word to best describe me then PASSIONATE might be a very top contender.  It's pretty easy to keep cool & collected about any of my passions when I'm going about my daily life, but when face to face with it I just go all in and let it explode out of me in every way possible.  It paid off and I was able to snag autographs and pictures with both ladies.

With Molly Seidel.  I cried watching her run her Olympic marathon finish last summer!

 
With Des Linden.  I also cried when I watched her finish & win the Boston marathon in 2018.  Funny story about this picture though, it was taken on the camera/phone of the lady next to me.  There was quite the crowd vying for her attention & Des had already signed my jacket.  Instead of also thrusting my phone in her hand I smiled for this picture then chased the woman next to me down and asked her to text me the picture.  I also love the face of my daughter who has no clue who Des even is or why I was freaking about her.  The look on her face was priceless.

Where my jacket had been signed by these ladies.


Right as I walked away I turned around and saw a very familiar face.

Now in the midst of a city with hundreds of thousands of people, not to mention the additional 30 some thousand of runners from all over the world to turn around and completely unplanned see someone you have known for 30+ years is, to me, a God thing.  I knew Dave was a runner & was wanting to get to Boston, but had not spoken to him in 10 months to know that he was going to be there to run as well.  What a fun moment to pause & chat with him and connect.

Sunday was a big rest day for me.  We found a church to attend since it was Easter Sunday, but other than that I had one thing I wanted to accomplish:  the start line in Hopkinton.  On race day the place is packed, not only with runners, but media, press, etc.  So going in advance is more ideal to grab those iconic pictures and better scope out the place.  This also frees one up to really just focus on the race come Monday morning.


They actually have police monitoring the road and will stop traffic so you can get a picture!



RACE DAY

Like any race I've ever done I did not sleep very well the night before.  Aside from dealing with the sickies during the week, which was mostly gone, I was feeling very good and confident about how my run in Boston was going to go.  Even though I wouldn't start running until almost 11 a.m. I still had to be downtown to catch my bus by 8 a.m.  Since we had stayed outside of the city I had to be driven in and dropped off as close as I could to Boston Commons where the buses wait to transport us out to the start line.

Nerves and excitement were definitely setting in, but that's about expected with any race I do.  Once I was off the bus I milled around the Athleteś Village waiting for my start time.  In true mom & coach fashion I was also still fielding phone calls and getting things taken care of before I got to the start line.  It always seems like there is plenty of time before the start, but then all of a sudden youŕe in a coral and off you go!



The start crowd is amazing.  I've done A LOT of racing in my years, but there is nothing like Boston.  I took off moving along the best I could.  The weather was amazingly wonderful!  The sun was shining bright and the temps were mild in the mid 50s.



I was moving along at a comfortable pace (8:15ish) all the way through the 10k point.  This pace is not all out too hard for me, but not taking it easy either.  I was completely content to keep this pace the whole way.  It wouldn't give me a PR, but still a good decent race.  Suddenly I rolled my ankle really hard.  I didn't fall, but I had a good stumble and pain shot through my foot.  I came to a limping walk and could barely keep going.  Rule number 1 for me when I get hurt is to keep moving if possible.  The last thing I want is my foot to swell up and get tight.  So I walked the best I could even though I was limping horribly.  The thoughts shot through my head: this is it.... I'm done....I can't keep going.....this hurts REALLY BAD.  But we all know I'm a fighter and just as quickly as those thoughts came I also pushed back and thought: NO!  I DID NOT come all this way just to quit!  I don't care if I have to walk this entire race....I WILL FINISH! So I kept moving.  It was a lot slower and it hurt, but I kept pushing forward.

I had a childhood friend waiting for me at mile 10 and that was definitely a highlight to look forward to seeing her.

Oak St. and Muskie girls for a really long time!


I kept moving through the miles.  Some were good and a few times I gained momentum and I was able to pick up the pace.  Others were absolutely awful and I wondered how I was ever going to finish.  They talk about hitting the wall.  I've had that happen in other marathons, but usually only once around miles 18-20.  This time though I hit several walls.  I have never taken so many walk breaks ever in all of my marathons.  It was honestly kind of awful.  But I.  Kept.  Going.

The whole time I was worried about my ankle rolling again.  So I kept my stride small and my feet closer to the ground to minimize any possibility.  This particularly made tackling the hills very challenging.

Through all the miles I stayed determined to take it all in, have fun & mentally note all of the memories.  I allowed myself to soak in the sights and sounds along the way.

There seemed to be a lot of screaming and pointing when I was running with this particular runner.  I had no clue who it was, but he certainly seemed to be attracting a lot of attention.  So I got in front of him and snapped a few shots with him.  Later I found out that it was Matt James from the Bachelor.



I also realized later that I saw & ran past Shalane Flanagan.  She was running as a guide to a impaired runner and I remember when I saw them I noted their cute matching outfits.  Beyond that I didn't pay too close attention to the pair.  Only to realize later who it was.  Even though I didn't get a picture with her it still made me fangirl even after the fact that I was able to see her up close & in action.

The miles slowly ticked on.  I kept playing the mental game of trying to figure out if I just ran this pace then I'd finish with a certain time.  Of course as time went on that kept changing and I kept getting slower.  My son called me from back home in Illinois at mile 16 and gave me nice words of love, support & encouragement.

At some point I had to accept that I was not going to finish under 4 hours.  I had previously been guilty of saying that if I ever ran a 4+ hour marathon then I clearly failed at my racing endeavor and would be so embarrassed at such a time.  Ha, well I guess I had to eat those words.  I'll admit I did feel like a failure.  I had to fight against the mental thoughts of I suck. How can I even be proud of this? and so on.  

Coming up on mile 24 I finally was able to see my family.  Seeing the look on their faces, their joy and excitement to see me in the crowd made it worth every hard miserable step I had to take to get there.  They didn't care if I was running with the elite pack of dead last they were there proud of me and I could feel that as I approached them.  I have the great ability of despite being horribly miserable I perk up, have fun & make it a celebration.  Probably a surge of adrenaline, either way, I was just as excited to see them too!

My fan club: my daughter, my boyfriend, my son, my German daughter (exchange student) and my dad.




In my final miles I finally accepted that I wasn't going to get a sub 4 hour marathon.  Well, I kind of had to since the clock was saying otherwise, no matter how much I didn't like it. It took a lot of mental back and forth, but I focused on the good.  I focused on all the people that I knew loved and supported me every step of the way,  I focused on continuing to take in each and every moment.  The sights, the sounds, the feelings.

As soon as I finished I was brought to tears.  Despite not having the race I wanted I was very proud of myself and kept thinking ¨I did it!  I did it!¨  I honestly don't know if this will be my last Boston....my track record isn't too great here, or if I'll come back....I mean three times a charm!!






Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Boston - the prequel

 Ok....ok.....I KNOW I haven't said a peep about Boston and it's been almost 2 weeks since I finished that race.  And really it's good to write out my thoughts anyway.  If anything for personal reflection & processing I want to get this down and out there for the (Carmen) history books.

Despite my best intentions and planning I did not get a post written about me even doing the race.  A lot of times I have things planned out in my head.  Thinking and planning are two of the things I do a lot of when I workout and run so much.  Then reality hits and I either completely forget or other priorities take over and it just doesn't get done.  So this morning I was thinking about how I could break this down into a prequel, the main title & then a postquel (an actual word....I looked it up!!)

So let´s rewind.

Last fall I had the idea to run the Quad City Marathon so I could attempt to qualify for Boston.  While my running was so so I felt confident that I could get this done.  Especially since being a bit older my qualifying time had been bumped up to 3:50.  Long story short (cause I'm not going to go back and write a whole post about it) I accomplished my goal.  My running was still pretty sketchy and being hit and miss with a lot of struggles and a lot of lows.   One thing about me though is that hard things tend to push me even harder and I just don't like to give up without a fight.

My running took another big blow when I sprained my ankle really bad in a trail race in November.  Despite that I still registered for Boston knowing I had months to recover and waited to see if I was going to make the cut off.  In a good twist everyone that registered made it into Boston and I was ready to keep recovering and attack this marathon training cycle at the beginning of the year.  

I completed one week of training at the end of January/beginning of February, even had my first long run done and then I was in a bad car accident.  I completely totaled my car when going about 60 mph my car spun out of control, went off the road and flipped on its side.  I managed to physically walk away from the incident with very minor injuries.  However the emotional & psychological trauma, along with some other events in my life had me absolutely spinning out of control.  Suddenly I could barely function (but of course I did on many basic levels) and every run became so incredibly hard.  When I did manage to get myself out the door for a run every step became a fight to keep going.  Never before have I ever struggled through so many runs.......and I have done A LOT of running in my years and have been through A LOT of really hard times in life.  This took the cake and then the weather this past year was just one big fat cherry on the top.  Despite all this I kept going.  My training cycle was not really going like I wanted, but I made the best of what I could.

Due to my work schedule it worked out that I had the entire week off before Boston and I really wanted to make a vacation out of that time with my 2 youngest kids & my exchange student that I still have living at home.  When you work in education you often have limited times during the school year to actually take a big vacation and this seemed to line up perfectly with going to Boston.  My kiddos have never been to the upper East coast and I wanted to make this all happen.  In true mom fashion I was thinking about their opportunities & experiences along with mine too.  I was more than willing to sacrifice my perfect ideal vacation that could completely revolve around me and include them in it and make it more about us.  Life IS short.  Your time with your kids IS short.  TAKE THE VACATION NOW!!

10 days before the Boston marathon I set out on vacation.  My training was all done (even if it was crappy and hard) and I wanted to enjoy every moment leading up to the big day.  We drove to Philadelphia, then New York City and then lastly Boston.  We packed a lot of sightseeing and traveling into those days.  Most days we were exhausted, yet our hearts were full from all the time together and memories we were creating.  While in New York I started to get sick.  Not like contagious sick, but my seasonal allergies flared up really bad.  Massive head and sinus pressure, runny nose, sneezing, congestion.  I made sure to still enjoy the vacation and smiled for all the pictures, but honestly I was miserable.  I started a regime of Day/Nightquil, claritin, zyrtec, etc.  You name it, I was probably on it, just so I could get some relief.  Our last night in NYC I slept sitting up just so I could breath & get some relief from the pressure.  It was no fun and the symptoms carried over to my first few days in Boston.  After several days of serious medication I finally began to get a little bit of relief.

During all of this I still made time for some runs to keep me loose and ready for Boston.  It's one of the reasons I embrace my whole SHE RUNS EVERYWHERE mentality.  I take advantage of my love of travel to really get out there and run everywhere.  In Philadelphia I had and I mean HAD to run down toward the art museum to recreate the infamous Rocky scene and see the Rocky statue.  Turns out a lot of people do this, it's totally a thing and as cliche as it was I had fun going on that run.


Rocky statue off to the side of the museum steps.  Someone told me a few years ago that he thought I was like a female Rocky because he´d always see me out running in the early morning hours.

In NYC I had a run where I left my hotel and ran through Times Square, then the Broadway district then toward the Hudson River where I was able to see the USS Intrepid before circling back to the hotel.  I had previously spent a weekend in NYC with my daughter just the month before and that time I ran the other way toward the East River and was able to see many sights on that run as well.


My time in Boston was much different than 7 years ago when I was out there for my first Boston marathon.  Instead of staying in Boston we were at a hotel about 15 miles outside the city.  Even though my allergies were still kicking my butt, I still went out for a run and was rewarded when I found an amazing view of Boston even though it was from far away.  Maybe it's a downfall, but I'm so guilty of taking in the view when I run.  I don't hesitate to stop, smell the roses so to speak and just enjoy the experience instead of making it all about the run.  Not every run is this way, I have plenty when I push forward and grind to get the work done.  When it does happen though I feel like I'm always winning.  The peace, the moments, the complete happiness that fills my soul is always worth the experience.

You have to zoom in a little, but in the distance you see the skyline of Boston.  Pictures rarely ever do the view justice.  It´s always better in person.  So if you can just stop and enjoy the moment! 


Finally, I was at a point where there was nothing else I could do.  Boston was here and I was ready to go! 

Friday, April 8, 2022

Race Recap

 No, I didn't forget about you or this race update!  I just have dreams & ambitions to do things that my schedule doesn't really allow for, but I try to make them happen anyway.  Life is usually a struggle in one way or another and its often what we do with those struggles that count.  So finally here I go......

It helps that a friend saw me on Tuesday morning and was like WELL?!?!?  What happened?!?!  You never told us.   Ok...ok, I'll get to it.  Part of me just wants to put my head in the sand anyway and be all ignorance is bliss, but sometimes it's not.  So fine, I'll deal with it and talk it out.

For those that are on my social media, I did post a post race picture and only mentioned how disappointed I was.   Now keep in mind, I am my own worst critic.  I set the bar really high for myself.  I push myself more than anyone else.  We could theorize about the why behind that, but maybe I'll save that for a session with my therapist.  I´d rather just assume that is the way I am wired.   Move, move, move.  Push, push, push.  Go, go, go.  Do, do, do.  Yes, that can be a fault at times, but mostly it serves me well.

Keep in mind that my goals and expectations may not be what anyone else thinks is normal.  While I'm far from any professional athlete, it's fair to say I'm not your average mid 40 year old mom either.  So please allow me to just talk about this race and keep the perspective that this is normal for ME!!  Maybe crazy as well, but hey, I'm good with crazy!

The Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon is a favorite race of mine.  I went back and did some personal history look up and here is what I found.  I first did this race in 2011 & have ran it 6 times, now 7.  This is where I ran my half marathon PR (1:37.34) back in 2014 and I was the masters (over age 40) champion in 2018 (1:39:37).  Interestingly the next year in 2019 I ran a minute faster and was not the masters champion.  It always comes down to who is there that day & how they run.  Sometimes it's enough to snag that top place, other times not.

Despite what people think I almost always never win a race.  Well, I mean I have won races.  Lots of them.  I have a basement full of dusty, cobweb filled trophies to show for it.  Those races though are local hometown type of races.  Maybe 50-100 runners.  Small in a world full of big races.  I'm not diminishing what I've accomplished.  A win is a win & I've won plenty of races.  But you take this little fish and put her in a big sea and yeah, I'm not winning too many of those races.  I have also been able to snag many age group awards.  Those typically are either 1, 2 or 3rd place compared to other people in my age group.  I have even placed in my age group in a slightly bigger marathon (the Illinois & Quad City marathon.)  I have plenty to be proud of and while I dont expect a trophy every time I have won A LOT of them!

I wasn't sure how my body was going to hold up on race day.  I've done a lot of training runs in preparation for my marathon so this should've been easy peasy.  However my body is stuck in this icky phase with a lot of inflammation going on.  Some days it's almost like my body has never been a runner and it is very frustrating.  I made sure I got  a lot of sleep and took care of my body to get ready for this race.  When I headed to warm up I was feeling good.  Not amazing, but fairly good,  Now days I will take what I can get!  Temps were on the cool side and there was this never ending wind that I've dealt with for the last few months of training,  Overall slightly cooler than I would prefer, but not horrible.

Once the race started I settled in to a pace.  Nothing slow, but nothing fast either.  I'm notorious for going out too fast, which I can survive on a 5k, but not for a longer race.  I was right behind the 1:45 pace group, but that was ideally a little on the slow side that I had hoped for so I worked for a few miles to get ahead of that group.  Ideally I wanted to be around 1:40.  Faster would be even better, it even crossed my mind that if I could have an awesome run and pull off a masters win then that would be total cake!!  But knowing how my body has been I also knew that would be a stretch,  I felt good and solid those early miles and saw several sub 8:00 miles on my Garmin.  My knee started hurting at mile 6, an on/off side issue I've been having, but was manageable.  The later half of this race has some hills, nothing massive, but certainly noticeable and would make my pace dip down and I'd have to work to get my pace back on track.

The last few miles I had to dig deep to keep on pace and not fall back too much.  The 1:45 pace group passed me back up, but was just ahead of me the rest of the race.  That did not help my confidence, but I focused on myself and just pushed to finish strong.  When I crossed the line I had a time of 1:45.13.  Not horrible, but not where I wanted to be either.  At the moment I was just happy to have finished!

I walked around a little, hoping to see some friends finish,  Tightness was setting in, the wind picked up and even though I tried to eat my stomach was just not having it.  I was sent a link with the results and looked that up.  I felt completely deflated when I saw that I didn't even place in my age group.  I'll be honest that hit me harder than I wanted it to.  I know that is not the end all measurement of success, but I suddenly didn't care about hanging around anymore.  I just wanted to be back in my hotel room recovering in a hot tub & away from the race.  I felt like a failure.  

One of the hardest things for me right now is that after years of dedicating myself to running, which came oh so naturally and thriving so much, my body has hit a big road block.  Yes, I am getting older, that is a big factor, but I've also done a lot to be proactive to stay healthy and strong.  Those 2 elements are necessary to keep running as I age.  But no matter what I do my body is still just fighting me.  I tend to be a very black and white person in this area.  You do A, you get B.  I want answers as to why this is happening and there is no solid answer.

My big takeaway is that I CAN still run and this race, although not as fast as I'd prefer, was still a solid run needed to get me to my big marathon in 2 weeks.   This may all be a struggle, but I'm going to keep on smiling and I will not quit!!  That is a win-win no matter what.




Friday, April 1, 2022

Here I go....AGAIN!

 I think of this blog from time to time.  I´m pretty sure only 5 people read it.  Maybe 10-15 if I post the link on my Facebook.  Sure I´d like to have a following, but I was never driven by numbers of followers.  This was always more of a journaling opportunity to following all of my racing adventures.  I like having this history out there even for my own personal record.  If you follow along, that´s great as well.   I like having company along the way.  

This isn´t going to be a great revival like 2 years ago.  Haha, one that didn´t last that long.  However, I do have some big races coming up and thought I would document them and make it easier for my ¨fan club¨ to follow along and hear all about it.

First up, this weekend I am running the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon in Springfield, IL.  I first ran this race back in 2011 and it has always been a favorite of mine.  I'd have to go back and look to see how many times I have competed, but off the top of my head I know it's been several.  It may even be the race I have run the most.  Hmmmm, may have to look into that more. 

This will be serving as a tune up race leading to me running the Boston Marathon on April 18.  I have also run this race before, however this time is different.  Very different.  

I look forward to these next coming weeks and what it's going to include.  And I look forward to having you along with the journey with me too!!

Friday, May 1, 2020

May Goals

When I rewind my life about 50 days or so I had no idea what my future would hold.  Really, none of us do ever.  But I had at least a general idea or direction that my life was going.  A lot of that based on planning, scheduling and the normalcy of which I lived my life.  Sure, it can always be expected that little bumps come up in the road or even slightly bigger ones.  But I always press on and get back to life as I knew it.  This, however, has been different than any other time in my life and it's not only effecting me, but everyone around me.

It never occurred to me to set goals during this time.  I was naive to grab hold of the mind set of ok, I got this, it's just a few weeks, maybe a month, then everything will just resume.  Life as I knew it would return.  Specific goals were not necessary because this was going to be very short term and my goal in general was just to hunker down and survive.  Slowly, as I now realize, this has not turned into something short term.  Yes, it is enough to declare and even be happy with the general goal I set.  I'd say I've done it fairly well.  

As I look ahead, I know this new normal is here for the time being and it's not anything that I'm used to.  There are also other factors in my life that are a new normal for me that have coincided with this global change making this extra.  In many ways those changes I can handle because I was in control of them and brought them on myself through other life events.  The global changes though are being handed down through things that have nothing to do with me directly, yet they have drastically changed how I live my life.

Since today is May 1st, it's a good time to take a step back and set some goals for this month.  The last 50 some days were a grace period of sorts, but now it's time to focus and be intentional.  Here in short is my list in no particular order:

1)  Run 200+ miles in the month of May.  My running has really taken off  like crazy.  I have run such milage before, but it's probably been 5-6 years since I was at a peak and routinely running this much.  I looked late last night and was just 2.5 miles short of 200.  I honestly considered going out and logging those few miles real quick, but decided not to.  At that point I was honestly truly tired and talked myself into being sensible.  So for all of you who deem me craaaaazy, I'm actually sometimes not.  Sometimes.  


2) Read 4 books.  I love to read.  I don't love to sit still.  Those two opposites keep me from getting much reading done.  Yes, I know there are audio books.  I've tried that.  Not my cup of tea.  Yes, I know there are e-books.  Also not my cup of tea.  Perhaps old fashion, but I really like to sit and read an actual feel it in my hands book.  Often once I sit and get in the groove I can knock out books left and right.  But that first step is the hardest for me to overcome.  I'm working on this.  I did read 4 books in the last 50 days.  So I'm making progress.



(Just a few of the books I've read recently)

3) plant my garden and pay a lot of attention to it.  I love to be outside and be a total soak up the sun and fresh air person.  I've attempted to have a garden before, but it was in my years of having younger kids while also trying to work outside the home.  Since I work for the school system now I am afforded summers off to be home during this time.  My kids aren't so little any more either.  Yes, they still need a lot of my time and attention, but I've turned that corner to having self sufficient humans and that makes a big difference.

4)  organize and purge, specifically my basement and garage.  I still have many boxes from my divorce that are packed up just waiting for me to go through.  Honestly a box could disappear and I might be none the wiser which begs the question do I even really need it.  Yes, I have slight OCD issues and being extremely sentimental have a hard time getting rid of things.  I'm far from being on the show Hoarders, but don't touch my boxes cause I will likely freak out.  So let's goal this issue and go through, purge and organize.

5)  weight management.  Don't even roll your eyes and tell me how great I already look.  Even before all this hit I was packing on weight and it was getting out of control.  Maybe not My 400 lb. Life out of control, but for me it was!  This pandemic and stay at home stuff made things even worse.  I wish I can say that I knew exactly what got me in gear and turned around, but in the last 40 days I have lost 10 lbs. and am working on a little bit more. It has helped that I joined an online fitness challenge that is helping me zone in on my eating and food habits.  We know exercise isn't my issue, but food is.  This Spring Into Action fitness challenge is exactly what I need to help reel things in and tighten up this ship.


6)  play my french horn.  I picked up my for the first time in many years and began playing to have something to do and pass the time.  I wish I could say I was more consistent, but it's a struggle and I easily put it off and before I know it, it's 11 p.m. and I'm tired and want to go to bed.  So I'd like to set a goal of 2-3x a week to pick up my horn and practice/play.  I don't need to be perfect.  I don't need to be ready to try out for an orchestra.  I just need to play.


I can sit here much longer and come up with some more goals to focus on.  The list and possibilities are endless.  These are some that have come to mind and I want to focus on.  I hope that by taking the time to sit and write it all down it sinks in even more and gives me that mindset to go after it and get it done!

What about you?  Do you have any goals for May?  What are you working on?  Let me know, I want to hear!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Gratitude

I know I'm not the only one stuck in this endless cycle of stay at home order.  I have such a wide variety of thoughts and feelings about all of this.  Everything from "this is stupid" to "we'll hunker down as long as we need to" and so much more in between.

I'll be honest and admit that I'm not doing it perfectly either.  To me there's this big black hole of doing exactly what we're told to do vs. me assessing each day, my life (and my children's), each situation and making decisions based on what I think is best.  Sometimes the two do not match up with each other. That conflict and what I do/don't do can end up with so much stigma, judgement & criticism.  I've had to work long and hard to simply not care about what others thinks, say or do about MY life.  Yet being a highly empathetic person and simply caring All.  The. Time. fights to put me right back in that box.  It's an endless cycle of who I am.

Despite all that is battling within me each day, one thing I've tried to control is my gratitude.  This takes constant effort and some days or even moments are easier than others.  This is an area that I don't think I struggled with before, but feel like this pandemic and all the life changes that are happening with it are really testing me in this area.  I'm also guilty of making my gratitude bubble very small and focusing on only the closest of things that I have any control over.  While there's nothing wrong with that, it makes it pretty easy for me to feel challenged by other bigger situations and happenings.  It makes me realize how much I need to focus on gratitude no matter how big or small the situation.

I woke up this morning with a renewed sense of gratitude.  This was the view as I sat in my bed.  I'm not 100% sure why, but I LOVE this view.  I felt calm.  I felt at peace.  I felt SO thankful to be alive for another day.  For me, this was a moment that God had put in my heart.


Perhaps it was too easy to embrace this feeling since it's such a small controlled environment.  I'll admit that in the time since I took the picture and now, even as I wrote this post I've been tested A LOT.  And being my emotional self  have shed some tears and struggled.   I'm going to go ahead and keep focusing on all that I'm thankful for.  Big and small.  I have so much to live for and for that I am thankful!

What are you thankful for?   Is this something you struggle with?  Talk to me, I want to listen 😊

Monday, April 13, 2020

So Emotional

Everyone experiences emotions differently.  I for one am a very emotional person.  I tend to feel and experience any/all emotions deep in my core and with every fiber of my being.  It's not an exaggeration or me being dramatic.  I am just wired to be this way and it's in no way a bad quality to have.  I've had to learn and work on keeping my reactions to those emotions in check.  It's not an excuse to let myself be out of control, although some times that does happen. 

It can be frustrating when people don't know or understand how deep rooted my emotions can be.  One of the worst things you can tell me is "calm down, don't be so emotional about this!".  While I can work to calm down in many situations, there is no way I can not be emotional about things.  I know I'm not the only person who is wired this way, a lot of people are.  And probably just as many are wired to not be an emotional person. It's one of the many things that all makes us different and I strive to accept every person's differences.

One of the main emotions that most people are experiencing right now is grief.  You usually think of grief as something that someone goes through when they've lost a loved one to death.  However,  I've read many articles that talk about the grieving process that many of us are going through right now.  You may not even realize it or be able to identify it yourself.  But our lives have all changed in the last month and we've all lost something(s) that at the very least was normal to us.  Some of us have lost more than others, but we're all at a loss for what we knew as our life.

When I left school on Wednesday, March 11 I thought I was going to be gone for a scheduled 4 day weekend.  In addition to my primary job in the classroom, we had just started track practice and the season was on the verge of getting in to full swing. 

This was not any regular track season.  Not only for me, but for the school itself.  After 4 years of being an assistant coach, I was promoted to head coach of the boys and girls Lombard track team.  I was scared, but so excited and ready to take on this role!  Not to mention this is Lombard's last year as a Jr. High.  The schools here are restructuring and after this year Lombard will be a 5-6 building with no track team.  That also means there will no longer be this historic Churchill vs. Lombard divide.  All year there has been plenty of focus on this End of an Era between the two Jr. High schools.  One that dates back for over 60 years.  I didn't grow up here, but my kids have all attended Churchill, but I've been equally loyal to the kids I coach at Lombard.  To be honest they are both great schools and a part of the larger Galesburg school district, which I love and support.  So I've never been a fan of the rivalry, but was honored to be the one to lead Lombard through it's end and final days.

In the beginning days of the quarantine and stay at home initiative I was hopeful and optimistic that we could still have a track season.  Even if it was a shortened one.  I encouraged my kids to remain active so that we wouldn't lose too much ground.  As a mom, I have a son who was hopeful in that *perfect* 4x4 team that could honestly make it to state this year.  So we tried to hold onto that hope that things could still happen and if it was not the norm, it would still be something!!  We wanted to be ready to go when all of this was lifted. 

As the days turned into weeks, my hope began to fade.  I had to begin to accept that we probably wouldn't have a track season.  I kept telling myself it was what was best and simply something we had to accept, even if we didn't like it.  Finally the silver bullet came in an email from the IESA which officially cancelled the State Track Meet.  I knew then that my track season was officially cancelled.  I was crushed.  Devastated.  I knew somewhere deep inside this would happen, yet it did nothing to lessen the pain or stop the flood of tears that engulfed me.  Was I being too emotional?  Absolutely not!  My heart and soul was being crushed.  Not only for my personal reasons and goals, but for my students who have been robbed of this track season.  For the 8th graders, my son included, who would never get this track season back.

It's been weeks since I got this news and even as I typed this out I still had to fight back the tears.  I know and understand it is what is best to keep everyone safe and protected.  It's nobody's fault.  It's the reality of what this entire nation is going through.  I know this adds to a long list of other life events that have changed for many people.  Events, moments, dates they have been robbed of.  Some things can be postponed or still held, but in drastically different ways than one imagined.  However, many will have last moments, last chances, last events that they will never get back.  My heart, my head, my body will grieve this for a long time.  I won't forget it too easily.  I never do.  Not because I can't let go of things and move on, but because of the deep emotional attachment I have to them.

Has there been anything that you are grieving for during this time?  It can be anything, big or little, if it's important to you then it's important!  Are you an emotional person?   I'd love to hear about it!