It’s early in the week but already things have been busy, mornings have been short, and the late September/early October weather that I look forward to every year has yet to arrive. It got up to 91 yesterday😦
But during this week, which is guaranteed to be a little insane, I plan practice fearless and unapologetic optimism, appreciate the good moments, learn from the bad ones, and throw myself headlong into the beautiful mess that can sometimes surround me😉
I was talking to someone earlier this week about goals. They mentioned that they knew mine. “What do you think they are?” I asked, curious.
“To run faster and qualify for the Boston Marathon.”
Okay. I know I run a lot. A LOT. I average between 30-40 miles a week when I’m not training for a marathon, of which I have run 10. So…to most people, that might seem like I’m going towards a BQ (Boston Qualifier).
To be honest, the thought has never crossed my mind.
To me, running is the only thing in my life of which I can be completely in control. I can choose where I run, what time I run, how far I run, how I feel when I run (ie have I had enough food, sleep, etc). It is 100% up to me. There is no drama involved, no bad emotions. Once I start putting expectations on that (apart from the yearly marathon I run), I’m afraid of what I might lose. My oasis. My escape. My time where I can drift away and just BE (well, I can’t draft too far, as I usually run at 4am in the morning. Safety first!).
I won’t deny though, I’ve enjoyed getting stronger and faster. Being able to spin out miles after mile while my body breaks down and builds back up. But that alone is what I’m chasing…that feeling of strength. Not a BQ…at least for right now😉
I’m one of those weird runners who chose to do several marathons before she ran her first half marathon. I mean…go big or go home, right? My first half marathon (and the only one in which I have ever participated on a semi-regular basis) was the Winslow Half Marathon in Winslow, AR. For those of you familiar with Northwest Arkansas, Winslow is a tiny little town about 45 minutes away from Fayetteville that is FULL of hills. And I say this as someone who has lived here for almost a decade.
But as anyone who knows me well will understand, I like a good challenge (and may also be a little bit of an adrenaline junkie) so I decided to run that race four years ago. And it was HARD. But still pretty awesome. The hills were definitely there but they were rolling so you could use momentum from the hill you were descending to get up the next one. Charming little farm vistas neatly lined the course (that apparently is the flattest one they could find in the town!) and a few random dogs briefly hopped in to join before disappearing into the fields.
Flash forward two years (I skipped a year in there) and I ended up setting a PR at the race while also coming in first female.
That brings us to this year. There was rain in the forecast, but the morning sky looked golden, which I thought was a good omen.
I love to really soak in my surroundings at a starting line. Apart from challenging myself, I enjoy the good vibes of races. Those who aren’t running volunteer their time and energy to be there because they love different aspects of the race and understand how events like this only bring people together, which is something our country could use more of right now.
The rain held off and as I stepped up to the thick blue mat that laid across the starting line, a humid breeze washed over me.
As usual, I started too fast. The adrenaline does that to me. I was averaging a 7 minute pace by mile 5 and decided that I should slow down a bit and focus on competing with myself instead of the two ladies that I had been playing a game of cat and mouse with on the course. The hills were brutal and unforgiving but also empowering. And I’m not going to lie…the final two miles felt like they took hours and I was moving in slow motion.
But at last I was on the final 1800 yards which is straight down hill (kind of treacherous for your legs, after they just endured 12+ miles of hills). My glasses were fogging due to a warm mist that had started to fall but I could make out my friend C. near the finish line. With a final push, I sailed over, ending with a time of 1:44:12 – the third woman in.
I like to think that I learn something from every race I run…perhaps because so often I equate running to life. This one showed me that I’m often stronger than I realize and emphasized that I should always focus on competing against myself before anyone else.
After coffee, food, a nap, and more food, my Sole Sisters and I had a girls night.
We had delicious, healthy food that was amazing. There was a veggie casserole, sweet potato wedges, roasted carrots, fruit infused water, peanut butter protein cookies, and chocolate-oatmeal-Greek yogurt muffins. It was also a little birthday celebration for me😉 They gave me coffee, wine, and a little container with bicycles on it and we talked, laughed, and ate for three hours straight.
I know I talk a lot about how amazing these girls are…but it’s true. Their friendship is seriously the great gift of all and it just keeps on giving all year round. I believe that you will find friends once, may twice in a lifetime where you just…CLICK. There’s no explanation or reason. But they are what you need and you are what they need. And you’ll be forever friends. Well, I found mine😉
As a marathon runner, I’ve hit my fair share of walls. You know…that moment when your body temporarily takes over, punches your mind and heart in the face and attempts to convince you that you are dying and need to stop running.
But I can honestly say that during my 22 mile run yesterday, I didn’t encounter one wall. Okay…during the final mile, I encountered a mini hurdle. I was out of food, low on water, and running on E, basically. Thankfully my Sole Sister C., who ran the last 12 with me had an extra Gue that got me through til the end.😉
Obviously the company helped with the no wall thing, as did the weather.
It was a gorgeous 60 degrees when we started and a thin, light mist gently enclosed the trail. The rising sun sent beams of golden light bursting through the clouds, like little explosions of joy.
I seriously savored every step. To be able to move and glide through that cool air was pure heaven. Any stress I had been feeling from the prior week, melted away. It was just me, C., the trail, the birds, and the approaching fall.🙂
Food, a shower, and coffee followed. That day. Those miles. These friends. It was all that I needed.
I love this month for many many reasons – the impending fall color, the pumpkin spice that starts creeping into coffee and other baked goods, the crispness that slides gently into the morning air, and running – fall is when I fall back in love with running, an affair that lasts me all year round😉
My Saturday started out with an 18 mile solo run. I remember the days that running 7-10 miles solo was torture. But today wasn’t bad at all. Of course, I’d rather run with my friends – there is a point in a long run where your brain goes a little crazy (I call it “runner’s brain”) where you start trying to comprehend the number of miles behind you and how many you have in front of you instead of just moving and doing what your watch tells you to do. Where you literally feel like you haven’t spoken to another human in years…decades even. When I reach this point, I either start talking to myself/sing along to my music (which makes passersby stare) or text friends as I run. Today my Sole Sisters and my mom got me through the miles.
Getting back to the fact of running 18 miles solo – I didn’t mind it or dread it or try to push it off. It was just something I needed to get done. And I love that I’m at that point with running. I felt fierce and awesome today while knocking out those 18 miles and even more so when I finished, even though I was a gross and hot mess. The miles weren’t easy, I can tell you. And I have had to work extremely hard to get where I am, running-wise. Lots of strength training, yoga, and early mornings. But I wouldn’t trade a single second of it for sleeping in. I always end each run feeling grateful for every step I could take.
After this run, I joined my sole sisters in a birthday celebration for S.🙂 We ate at a new cafe in Fayetteville and soaked in the beautiful morning. I’ve known S. for a little over 2 years (It seems like I’ve known her my whole life) and she’s definitely a keeper😉 I remember her as the new girl in the department down the hall, who dressed like Doris Day🙂 I invited her to have lunch with me one day and our friendship was a done deal after that. And the Sole Sisters formed shortly thereafter.
Each one of the sole sisters is currently at a different spot in her “fitness journey” but it’s more than running or working out that brings us together. We celebrate each other’s successes and are there for one another when life throws a curve-ball. And I love that.
My evening consisted of a short bike ride to a brewery/coffee shop near the university with my friend H. Traffic has certainly picked up since school started and it was fun to see the kids scattered about the shiny tables in the building, their fingers furiously typing on their laptops and their eyes widen with their already sky-high caffeine intake😉
Today is the first Friday I’ve worked in a couple of weeks! This summer has been a whirlwind of work trips and visits with family and friends. Every moment precious, full of adventure, and far too fleeting.🙂
September will soon be here and then October (my favorite month) full of color and pumpkin spice lattes. Change is coming but I’ve learned to embrace it, good or not so good. It helps us all grow.
I just returned from my third and final trip this summer. Three different cities within the course of a month. Even I know how crazy that sounds.
But it’s been worth it. Every since second. And this final trip was extra special as it involved family.
Several members of my dad’s family gathered in Omaha, NE, at my late aunt Connie’s house for pie and coffee. I vaguely knew everyone but all of their eyes and humor betrayed them as Baumerts🙂 It was so nice to reconnect with aunts, uncles, and cousins. Aunt Connie’s house has remained the same since her passing – large, bright and cheery. Art sings from the walls and the white curtains that hang on the front windows whisper and flow with the breeze when the windows are open.
The reunion only last 3 hours on Saturday – I spent the remainder of the time with my parents, sister, and her family. We laughed, talked, ate delicious food that my parents cooked, and enjoyed the cool weather. My dad and I ran every morning and I was able sit on the porch with coffee and drink in the sunrise.
As usual, this visit ended fair too quickly. Thankfully we already have another gathering planned in October😉
I am back from the biggest adventure I’ve taken in a long time. And I loved every single second of it.
I traveled to Alberta, Canada on August 10th, not knowing what to expect. All I knew is that I was going to be the Maid of Honor in the wedding of my dear friend of 14 years, M. I didn’t realize how many new friends I would make nor how I would fall in love with landscape and weather.
The days leading up to the wedding on August 12 were full of preparation – rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, finalizing every little detail. I met M’s parents and brother, people that I had heard about since we were in high school together. They spoke very little English so I solicited M’s help in learning (or trying to learn) a few phrases so I could talk to them. All three were so kind and had a great sense of humor. They brought everyone gifts and were always so grateful for help, a compliment, or information.
The night before the wedding, M. and I stayed in a hotel room and just caught up. I am so lucky that I have several friends that I can see every 5-10 years but it’s like we hung out the day before. M is one of those friends. We saw each other 4 years ago and talk at least once a month but that night in the hotel room, as we feasted on dried plums and gulped water, it was like we were still sitting at Starbucks as 18 year olds, giggling about school and boys.
I was up early on the wedding day and ran while M. slept in. The weather was perfect, just for her😉 The clouds were peachy crystal gauze on a robins egg sky, with a slight, teasing wind. When I returned from running, we still had some time to lounge. I made us coffee while we gathered our things in preparation for getting ready for the wedding.
Soon, the other bridesmaid N. arrived, with Tim Horton’s coffee. It was truly a Canadian morning.
I won’t go every little detail of that morning because this blog entry would go on and on. We talked about so many things and laughed so much before heading to the ceremony. Of course, when we left the hotel room, it was a mad dash. We were all dressed for the wedding and were also carrying our luggage out to the car, with the bride in the lead. If you know her, that won’t surprise you at all😉
The ceremony went off without a hitch…except that I definitely can’t do a slow walk and I forgot to bring the groom’s ring. M. turned to me after J. put her ring on and gasped “We forgot the ring!” Straight faced, I pulled a ring off my finger and handed it to her, thinking she could use it as a substitute. I didn’t look to see which one was it – it was a ring with a large blue heart shaped stone on it, that happened to fit on the groom’s pinky😉 Story of my life! The guests erupted into laughter, as did the groom (thank goodness!). Needless to say, N. and I found his ring shortly thereafter and gave it to him.
The rest of the afternoon was spent taking pictures in and around the park where the ceremony was held and the city’s Japanese Gardens. My main duty was to make sure M. had food and water and was ok.
The evening wrapped up with the reception at the Galt Museum and Archives. The wedding party was presented to the guests to Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” and M’s face shown with happiness. It hit me right then and there. We weren’t kids anymore – well I knew that, obviously. But there had always been this almost fantasy between us, full of Starbucks visits, rice crispie castles, and early 2000s pop songs. M was married (although she and J. were already officially married nearly a year before the actual ceremony) and had a kid on the way. It was whole new chapter. But an exciting and happy one😉
During my Maid of Honor toast (which N. translated flawlessly into Japanese), I reminisced about our early carefree days in high school and how I remember when M. first mentioned J. I ended the speech by saying “乾杯” (kanpai) – Cheers!
The remainder of my time in Canada was spent with M., helping her and my new friends clean up after the reception and tying up loose ends after the wedding.
These pictures or my brief description of my time in Canada obviously does not do the country or those I visited justice. I met some amazing people and made friends that I hope to stay in contact with. I had adventures that I only seem to be able to find. I want to be there for M. and J. as they become parents. Change is hard but necessary and can be wonderful. My friendship with M. is one of the things I treasure most in life and I know that it will be around forever. In the back of my mind, I’m already counting the days till I can see her again😉