Prayers for Boston

Today I had planned to write a long blog post about my third Irongirl 5K yesterday.  I was going to write about the joy of running as a mom/daughter team with my 7 year old daughter.  I was going to tie it back to the (still not written about) Disney Half back in January where I ran side by side with my sister and my husband and my brother-in-law. I was going to wax eloquent on the joy of running with those you love.  I was going to express how proud I was to hear via texts about split times that an old high school friend and her sister had successfully completed the Disney Princess this year.

And I was going to consider how amazing an inspiration Dick and Rick Hoyt are in all their races – including today’s Boston Marathon – their 31st time running the course.

I wanted to write about family.  And running.

And then as I headed home from a quick grocery store trip with the kids, we heard the horrible phrase on the radio:  This news is breaking from Boston…..there have been two explosions at the finish line of the marathon.

And I wept.

I called my husband. He checked online that the one person we knew at Boston today was finished – he had finished an hour earlier. We prayed that he and his wife had left the area of the finish line.

The kids and I got home and we gathered together to sit and pray.  Then I made sure they had things to do away from the tv and the news. And I hopped on Twitter, and FB, and turned on the news, and I sat in horror.

Today my daughter proudly wore her Irongirl medal to school.  And by evening, there were at least three deaths (at the time of this writing) that had occurred at the finish of the storied Boston Marathon.  Today I bragged about my daughter’s running to some of my students.  This evening, there are families torn apart and surgeries being performed to save lives.  This morning I was still riding high on yesterday’s effort and endorphins.  Tonight, I quietly cry as I work to tear myself away from updates and Twitter news.  It’s too much to take in.  Even the amazingly written pieces (such as this one by Ezra Klein) are almost too overwhelming to consider….it’s too much.

But I can’t forget the original premise of what today’s post was going to be – that running involves family. The running community acts like a family (and many races become family events for people).  And that running family tends to pull together in ways that demonstrate humanity at its finest.  I read reports that runners ran straight to hospitals to donate blood today. And EMTs and first responders RAN towards the explosions and the victims.

So tomorrow I will demonstrate my solidarity with the running community. As per a growing number of FB posts by runners, I will proudly don one of my race t-shirts tomorrow. And I plan to wear a piece of tape with “Standing with Boston” written on it.  I will wear it not to show that I run – but to show that my saddened heart is with those runners who finished and who were stopped before the finish, with the spectators, with the volunteers, with the race organizers, with the victims, with those Bostonians who cherish their city and it’s traditions, and with those first responders and medical personnel who have had to see and fix horrible things today.

As a slow runner, I have never had dreams of meeting a BQ – a Boston Qualifiying time.  But tonight and tomorrow – we are all a part of Boston and it’s running traditions.  And we are all Americans who stand with our fellow citizens in their time of grief and horror.   And as runners, we will run on – especially for all those who never will again.

Many many prayers for all those in Boston today.

 

I am naive and I’m okay with that.

As I cleaned up the kitchen this morning, I put in the DVD of School House Rock for the kids to watch……“I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill…”

I should be finalizing my long overdue post about our Disney races.  I should be stretching and doing some running work.  I should be grading papers.  I should be wrapping birthday presents for Steve. There’s a lot of “shoulds” that any one could choose from.  I figured most pressing was that I SHOULD be able to find my kitchen counters.  And floors.  And island.  And maybe my bathroom floor.

But my mind is far from housework.

I’ve been pondering the last week or so of my life and I’ve come to the conclusion that I am naive.  Or I’m an optimist.  Or some combination of both. Either label will do. Because I happen to always believe that good will prevail. Always.  Every time.

The short version of the story is that it’s come to light that our county is in the process of permitting a developer and come in and build a big box store (probably Walmart) plus five outparcels (such as fast food stores) AND up to 300 apartments on a piece of property.  The issue isn’t “promoting” economic development.  And for me the issue isn’t really about “Walmart.”  I know people who don’t shop there – and I respect that.

The issue is that this piece of property happens to front on a very congested road right next to the local high school, the public library, and another shopping center.  It is across the street from three residential streets and just down the street from the YMCA and the entrance to a huge neighborhood with several subdivisions, a little league ballfield area, and two public elementary schools.  All locations that are busy with families and children. They are proposing entrances and exits (probably without stop lights) onto this already crowded roadway AND onto another road which has been deemed a “roadway failure” by the county itself.

Those of us who travel this route daily understand why we have to leave our houses 30 mins early to get to ballet or karate or church. Looking at this plan, we may have to start helicoptering in and out of the neighborhood if we want to get anywhere at all.  Long story short – the stupidity of this plan is evident to any local resident.  But apparently not to those who run our county.

Since the moment I read the first news story about this, I have been on a mission to get everyone mad.  To get everyone to write to our county commissioners.  To get everyone to call the county planning commission.  To get everyone to be fully informed.  And to get everyone to express the stupidity of the plan back to the county people and ask for them to fix it. NOW.

And yet they won’t.

We get double speak.  We get tons of calls and emails about the “process being followed” and that “the zoning was changed and this is allowable”.  I even emailed the school board to remind them that just a few months ago 11 high school students were injured when two school buses collided on this road.  The school board’s email response to me was to say “Once it’s built, we’ll have conversations with the shop keepers if necessary.  Maybe we’ll get a turn lane put in if necessary.”  Dear God, these are the people that keep getting voting onto the school board despite me voting against them each and every time???

The point being that the county’s current stance is to repeat until they are blue in the face that “this is the process we are doing, nothing illegal, and the developer has the right to do this.”

And yet I’m actually proud of this.  Because I’d like to think that my grassroots campaign to email and FB EVERYONE I KNOW is the reason that some of the county email inboxes have blown up this week.  They could have been having lazy lunches and coming up with other idiotic bureaucratic red tape that gets them what they want without considering what the people who live here want. But instead – they were fielding calls and emails that I helped jumpstart.  They even had to come up with a public statement that I think they never expected to have to research and write. Yeah, I’m patting myself on the back just a smidge.

And yet there has been no solution as of yet.  They just offer to let you talk to the county attorney so he can tell you the laws and why they are following them.  And they say, “sorry no public meetings cause this is all just hunky-dory.”  They are missing the point.

Things can be perfectly legal and yet be DUMB ASS ideas.

It’s legal for me (a resident over the age of 21) to sit on my couch and gobble up all the fast food and guzzle down all the Boone’s Farm I want all afternoon (as long as I don’t drive somewhere afterwards).  But frankly – that’s a dumb ass idea.  And you know it.  And so do the county people – I hope.

And thus I press on.  I do.  I intend to email and call until someone in the county stops telling me about zoning laws and starts to tell me what THEY are going to do to CHANGE this stupidity.  Until then – what I am going to do is challenge them to CHANGE it.

Why?  Because I’m naive and optimistic.  I’m a child of the 70s and 80s.

I spent a lot of time in the 80s playing with kids at someone’s house while our parents organized the PTA and others to protest the closing of our elementary school.  T-shirts were printed, meetings were attended.  My parents were on the phone with people all the time. They were probably in the news but I don’t remember that.  I do remember sitting in the basement of someone’s house while the parents organized upstairs.  We kids were watching “Red Dawn” – which seems perfectly appropriate.  WOLVERINES!!!!  Sadly, Landing Elementary was closed, sold, and turned into houses. Probably some kids living there now have no clue that we played tag, held spelling bees, learned how to draw in perspective, memorized multiplication tables, started schoolyard fights and crushes, and held field day events in what is now their backyards.  So goes progress.

But I press on.  Despite the “loss” my parents’ group suffered, I maintain that anyone can fight the good fight and good will prevail.  That is what I learned throughout my childhood. Look at the influences I had:

I grew up on School House Rock and learned that anything you learn can be put to song.  And that our government is FOR the people and not a bunch of monarchs.

Daniel-san defeated the bad guys (on one foot) in the Karate Kid movies.  One foot, people!

I rooted for the Goonies and wept openly when they found the treasure and saved their homes.

Rudy got carried off on everyone’s shoulders.  (Yeah I’ve loved Sean Astin long before he helped Mr. Frodo.)

And heck yeah, I’m not declaring love for Hugh Jackman when I yell “WOLVERINES”.

The Death Star DID get blown up – twice.  Sure the rebels had to freeze their butts off on Hoth and deal with the dopey Ewoks – but they hung in there and prevailed.

People work hard and get things done together – yes Laura’s sweet big sister Mary went blind, but even that nasty Nellie got her comeuppance every now and again.

ET makes it home without becoming a government experiment. Bicycles are the only way to outrun the government.

The Nazis didn’t close their eyes but Indy was much smarter than they were.  (No I’m not equating the local government with Nazis – far from it.)

Wesley was only “mostly dead” and thus came back to defeat evil and rescue Buttercup.

You can take your DeLorean back just a few minutes earlier and take out the terrorists and rescue Doc.

And don’t forget – Ferris was able to trick Mr. Rooney.  (Okay maybe not the best example but still)

*if you don’t get these references, you might have missed the 70s and 80s – and you might need to rectify that with some Netflix now.

The point?  Good always prevails.  I believe it.  I have faith in it. I live my whole life this way.  I have high expectations for people.  This is not about politics (cause I don’t discuss my politics with most people) on the left or the right. It is about the basic expectation that we act and behave in accordance with good.  I expect that people will understand stupidity and fight against it – within themselves and in others.  And yes I have fallen way short myself.  I am not perfect. But I work on my faults.  I set higher expectations for myself when I stumble.  How else are you going to get up and keep stumbling forward?

I expect that, sigh, one day there probably will be a Walmart on this piece of property – but I’m not going to make it easy for them. I expect I will never set foot in it.  I expect that I will keep pressing on the county leaders to change what is wrong and corrupt within their system.  I expect myself to keep speaking up and fighting for my community.  I expect myself to rally others to the cause and to find a better voice than mine, to find a more knowledgeable person than myself.  Because somewhere out there is a Mr. Miyagi who is wise.  Somewhere there is a Doc with a superflux capacitor to fix this.  Somewhere there will be the next leader who will help prevail over injustice.  Maybe Batman will come along when we need him.  Or maybe Sean Astin is free.

Either way – I know that I’m doing what is right.  And sometimes what is right gets knocked down – but right never walks away.  Simply dusts itself off and stands up again to fight another day.

WOLVERINES!!!!!!!

Designed by the awesome Calmixx.  Visit his website (cyberhouse5.wordpress.com) and "like" him on FB.  He's a good friend.

Designed by the awesome Calmixx. Visit his website (cyberhouse5.wordpress.com) and “like” him on FB. He’s a good friend.

 

 

What goes up…

must come down and come down hard.

Today our family dealt with what every runner dreads – the fall.  Gravity always wins.  Everytime. The question is not if you will fall when running but when and how hard.

Steve took off for a run this am while I was still only semi-conscious. So I still wasn’t quite alert when I was digging out running clothes and heard him calling me a short while later.

When I rushed to the front door, he was at the door but holding it cracked open. He said, “I need you to know I had an accident before you open the door.” Being the calm rational person (ha), I grabbed the door, saw blood everywhere and screamed. And I had five thoughts in rapid succession.

My first thought was “God that’s a lot of blood.”

My second thought was “Dear Lord why didn’t he bring home his entire face??”

My third thought was, “Oh my god that’s a lot of blood.”

My fourth thought was “Get the kids out of the hallway and into their rooms.”

And then, I must confess my fifth thought came from that stupid runner’s part of my brain. And it was, “Crap I won’t get my run in this morning cause I’ll be in the ER with Steve.”

Now, lest you think I’m cold and heartless – I love my husband dearly.  He is my best friend and the man of my dreams.  And he understood when I confessed this thought hours later. Cause he also has a runner’s part of his brain.  The runner’s part of his brain was the one that remembered to hit stop on his Garmin when he got up (can’t mess up the split times!) and which also thought, “I hope I’m okay to run on Wednesday this week.”

After the scream, I managed to:  call the neighbor to watch the kids, dress myself and the kids, pack breakfast (it was 8 am!) and books and Nintendo DSes for the kids, dress myself, get a clean shirt for Steve (he had taken off his shirt and was holding it on his bleeding face), got water and snacks for him, and load everyone into the car  – all within about 10 mins.

On the way to the hospital, Steve explained that he had no idea what happened.  He was going along at a good clip (7:40 ish pace) and went down. He had no time to throw up his hands so he landed on his left eye socket. Yeah – major ouch.  Later, we drove by the spot and figured he slipped on a cobblestone section of someone’s driveway. I hope they don’t notice all the blood spatter on their patch of sidewalk…it looks like CSI should sweep the place.

Thankfully the ER was rather slow as the Labor Day festivities had not really started by 8 am.  We got through triage quickly and to an ER “room” (read: bed with equipment offset from other beds by two curtains on either side). Beyond the blood, Steve was shivering as he had been sweating from the run and hadn’t changed his clothes. They swaddled him in warm blankets which helped.

The amazing news – no broken bones on his face. Nose is probably not broken either. He didn’t damage his eye – but ripped off the skin under it. And banged up the nose badly. Clearly his guardian angel was completely flattened by now but had prevented REALLY bad things from happening. 8 stitches under the eye and 3 across the bridge of his nose. His eye is blackened and swollen – and his nose is swollen too. I suspect he’ll have two black eyes by the morning.  Poor poor thing.  The kids are still a little upset to look at him and our son keeps asking when he’ll get back to his “normal” face.  Poor poor poor thing.

But, he was thrilled his “running parts” are all good. Not a scrape on his legs, no foot pain, etc.  He tweaked his back a bit, but nothing more than needing a few days of rest and targeted stretching.  The fact that this was a running injury was not lost on the medical staff.  We heard it all including:

“That’s why I walk instead of run.”  Okay I’ll keep that in mind.

“See running is dangerous.  That’s why I quit.”  The nurse laughed at the doc at that one and said, “Really?  That’s the reason?”  

“Man, it doesn’t pay to try to be healthy.”  Um, maybe but this was a rarity. He’s run 100s of miles without incident.

And my favorite: “See you should stick to a treadmill – much safer.”  Yeah, cause banging your head on that instrument panel would be so much better. And when the belt keeps going when you’re not – that’s just plain awesome.

Okay I wasn’t that snarky in real life. I am very grateful for the incredible doctors and other medical staff. But really?

Life is dangerous. Yeah I’m old enough that I remember being a kid and not using seat belts and bike helmets.  I played on playgrounds that didn’t have mulch and pillows under the structure.  I’m not advocating returning to all those ways. Not at all. But we have to realize that unless you pad yourself and sit in a corner away from the world, life has stuff in it. And to avoid it all is sort of silly. Cause you can’t.

But you can be wise.  And you should be.

  • Don’t go running without telling anyone about how long you’ll be gone. Check in with someone before and after. And be sure they are conscious when you tell them! (I had no idea how long he had been gone when this happened.)
  • Wear an ID!!  A long while ago, Steve bought us both Road IDs that we wear on our shoes. And another great option is GO Sport ID.  Had he lost consciousness (thankfully he didn’t), someone could have found our phone number on his foot along with his name.
  • Bring a phone. Of course this will probably not change with Steve. But I do run with my iPhone strapped to my arm – for tunes, Nike+, and safety.  Only have had to use it once when I tweaked my calf and couldn’t walk home.
  • Run with others when you can – or at least in well populated areas so someone could find you if needed.  Steve was running through a neighborhood where lots of runners come through and lots of houses with people.  I know I know – many runners want the freedom of trail running or being out away from people. But in that case – definitely bring a phone.

Later, after we were home and the kids were home and settled down, I went for a run myself. I had to prove to myself that falling is a rarity – even for a klutz like me. I managed to almost make it a 5K (the mid day heat was oppressive).  The worse part was my second scream of the day when I nearly stepped on a headless mouse on the sidewalk. (He did not have id on him.) It reminded me just how lucky Steve was in his fall. Yes, I realize he wouldn’t have lost his head but it could have been way worse. 

And so I headed home to my poor banged up hubby.  Full of thanks that he will heal. And that he will run again.

 

Leading with your best foot…

I think it’s human nature to complain.  We like the attention that it generates, we like the feedback it can get, and we like to feel like we are not alone in whatever it is that ails us.

And so I’ve been like that lately with Facebook with regard to my plantar fasciitis. Complaining about the pain has been a bit of a release for me and it has generated good ideas and support from my many friends who have been there, done that, and rolled the water bottles on their feet.

However – I was stopped short by the unintended consequence of my actions.

This morning at church, a friend, Sue, came up to me and said, “See I always knew running was bad for you – look at all of you with your injuries.” She was talking about my recent Facebook posts – as well as those of a mutual friend who just fractured a bone during her last marathon.

I was immediately sad and chastened by her comments. Now – she wasn’t trying to be mean or rude about running. She was just stating an opinion – one that was easily reached had you been reading my Facebook updates.  But wow.  That was not my intention.

I started running back in February.  For very personal reasons – health, exercise, shiny medals.  (You can start back at the beginning of this blog for more details….)  And you know what – there are good days and there are bad days.

On the good days, I believe my cute mental image of myself in running shorts is close to reality. On the good days, I hit a stride that feels comfortable – that I’m in the zone and I’m moving in a physical way that feels amazing. I’ve never really been an athlete – but sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like I have physical abilities that are better than an average elementary kid on the playground.  On the good days, I spend the time running thinking about life and the people in it.  I work out frustrations, give thanks for those I love, and enjoy the ability to be outside and moving. On the good days, the sweat feels right and I finish a run with an abundance of energy and adrenaline. I once finished 8 miles and then felt like dancing right then and there in the parking lot next to my car. (So I did.)  On the good days, I am excited, I’m happy, and I relish the challenge.

And that’s why I blog. I like to to share those feelings with others – whether they are runners, or family and friends, or just nosy. I want people to get why I like running.  Sure I’m not the most inspirational runner. I don’t have ultra marathons in my sights. I’m not overcoming physical challenges and other barriers to excel. I’m just doing what I like and trying to recruit some people to join me along the way.

But I think I forgot the most important part about selling your product.  You lead with the good stuff.  And you do share the bad days – but when you have to talk about the bad stuff – you need to be mindful what lesson you’re really telling people.

As I walked away from Sue this morning, I went off to my Sunday School class.  With half my brain on her comment, I tried to tune the other half on the lesson – about gifts that God gives us.  Not food, shelter, clothing, but the gifts of teaching, mercy, giving, and even encouragement.

Encouragement….!  Ah ha. The whole “if I can do this – just about anyone can” is my general motto.  I write and blog and post to Facebook about my running so that others can see that even an overweight, over-forty, over-tired mom can take on the challenge. But how encouraging am I if my message is often one of aches and pains?

If I want people to run and be active, do I lead with the headline “Running causes foot pain”?  If I want people to come to my church, do I start with a listing of the occasional long meetings or the times I might not be happy with someone’s decision there?  If I want people to bring their kids to the same karate and dance studios my kids go to, do I tell them first about all the people that I don’t like there?  If I want my husband to enjoy the evening after work with the family, do I whine first about all the fights with the kids over their homework?  If I want to share things with those that I love and cherish – what’s the first message they get from me?

Sadly – I do fall into that pit of complaints from time to time.  (Okay probably more times about the homework arguments than I want to admit.) And yes, sometimes we need to get things off our chests. And we seek comfort and empathy from those around us.  I did need feedback about how to best deal with my foot pain. But as a psychologist – I know people tend to remember the negative things easier.  So I need to be more mindful and wrap those issues in a deep layer of “this is just a small slice of running.” Because it is – a small slice of a thing that is much more positive for me than negative. Just as the meetings, the people who I don’t agree with, and yes even the homework battles, are just a small bite in the very large pie of blessings that are my life.

I read a quote somewhere once that indicated the speaker would take up running if only those running looked happy when they ran by.  Maybe we runners need to focus on the run – but also on the opportunity to encourage others in doing what we are so focused on. And maybe that means a few more smiles.

So Sue – I apologize for leading with my weak foot and doing the complaining thing. I love running. In fact, I love it so much that I want this nagging pain to go away so I can keep on running.  A lot.  But I thank you, dear friend. For reminding me about encouragement and keeping that at the forefront of all I do. I intend to be better about that….even in the midst of pain, I’m going to be putting my best foot forward.

“Today is a rest day”

Yes it is….that is – it’s Sunday. We’ve already enjoyed our morning at church and are just puttering around, enjoying our day of rest.

Actually I’ve been getting emails everyday for several weeks from Active.com telling me that “Today is a rest day.”  I signed up for a free training program through them – but I set it to start this week.  So I have laughed everyday when I open the “rest day” email….this week has not had much rest in it. The kids started back to school, I had doctors and dentist appointments scheduled for me, my husband has had long meetings all week, and I’ve been working on my syllabus as the university where we teach starts the semester tomorrow. As blessed as we are to live on an academic schedule (my husband is an associate professor and I’m an adjunct instructor) – the schedule does have its moments of frenzied activity – like prepping for the new classes or grading midterms/finals. So rest is not likely this week…

The kids are settled into the new year – and both love their teachers (alleluia!). Our son is continuing his karate and we signed up our daughter for ballet/tap. (This will likely be a whole other blog post as I never danced and am totally at a loss as to the ways of dance studios.)

I often wish that after school activities for elementary kids could include running clubs. (When our son was an active toddler – I used to say I’d like to sign him up for soccer just so he could have a chance to run for an hour or two.) And actually – my husband will be starting one of sorts for a few weeks.  Our church’s Wednesday night programs for kids have short Bible lessons and then we break into mini classes for kids that are fun activities – like drama, puppetry, bells, sign language, karate, etc. He’s going to teach a “running class” for upper elementary kids. I think it’s going to be fun – and involve a lot of Gatorade! I hope it catches on and that many kids come to find running to be a passion for them.

I did manage three runs this week myself. Monday and Thursday were brief 2.5 miles and then 4 miles on Saturday. New shoes are great – although my foot is hurting again – thank you plantar fasciitis. (On a side note, a friend who’s father is a retired podiatrist taught me a new way to tape my foot that seems to be helping.) Part of this pain is probably the mini break when I didn’t have shoes. And part of it is that all my running on vacation were short runs (under 4 miles). The 4 miles yesterday were ugly….but it was SUPER humid. I started out strong and didn’t quite pace myself as I should have. But I did it and I wasn’t as slow as I thought I was.

So I’ll need to start building up my milage again and getting the body back to the way things “should be.” Particularly as this week is my “official” start of training for Disney. I’m excited and scared and nervous….and hopefully all that energy will be directed toward getting my feet going! And I’ll get out of this rhythm of “rest days”!

 

So why blog?

One afternoon while standing at the kids’ school for pick up, another mom (and friend of mine) came up to me and said, “You know – I really didn’t want to go running today – but I saw you run past my house and I thought if you were out there – I can get out there too. So I did.”

Now this particular friend is an incredible runner…many more miles under her feet. So to think I served as a prompt to her makes me laugh. But the littlest actions we do often reverberate in ways we never anticipate.

As I’ve been running for the last few months, I often post my runs on Facebook via my Nike+ app or the Couch to 5K app. That’s prompted a bunch of questions and comments from friends and family far and wide. And I have been astonished recently as to the number of friends who are telling me that I’ve inspired them to run and they are now starting to run …or at least thinking about running.

On a related note, I had a chance to share more about the intersection of running, faith, and inspiration a few months back. I’ve posted it here for those who may be interested.

Now I’m no Jared from Subway where I will have some amazing results and a spokesperson job to boot. Nor am I any expert at all in this. I’m just finding my way forward in this pursuit of running and hoping to inspire and bring a few friends along for the ride. So why not blog about my experiences in an attempt to keep myself motivated as well help light a fire under  some friends? I can be a little less pithy than on Facebook (and I love to write), and I can keep track of all my progress. Hope it’s as much fun as I intend it to be.