Life has been...well, it's been life. It's been good and bad and then good again. It's been, above all, busy. I've run - a lot. I've traveled - a good bit. I've raced - more than ever before, but less than I eventually hope to. I've sort of found my groove...or at least my current groove. It could turn out to be more of a rut than a groove, but I'm not going to waste the time to analyze it. I'm just going to go with it.
My focus is a lot different...and a lot the same. My kids are now enormous. 7th and 8th grade. Both over 5 feet and quickly bearing down on me in that category. Both enjoy healthy, busy, hectic schedules, filled with their favorite activities and friends.
|He's so looong now.|
For TGC, that means soccer and band and chorus and musical and color guard and sleepovers and Doctor Who and Marvel and becoming a teenage girl. Gah.
Mr. Man continues to be amazing. And fallible. And I continue to love him for being both of those things. He's playing more soccer these days...and forging a more grownup flavor of relationship with TBC. Sometimes they are just father-son. Other times they are thick as thieves. I wonder how closely this echoes the relationship he had with my FIL as a young man. I'd venture to say pretty close, as it is remarkably similar to the relationship that he has with him now.
My parents moved to the sunshine state. As did my in-laws. Which often makes me wonder if we just should have stayed put, nearly 10 years ago. But then I look around, at the life we have carved out for ourselves, and I know that Florida isn't our home any more.
I still work for the same company. Although it is evolving into something different. In a good way. I love the shifts that I am seeing and I love being right in the thick of the action.
Our fur babies are still providing a steady stream of entertainment, aggravation and love for us.
We had to say goodbye to Skorja, our eldest, over the summer, as she had sunken into a world of silent darkness. Our hearts broke and still ache from the void she left.
|Duchess's first run|
And then there is the immortal cat. Shalom is still kicking around. He'll be 18 this year. He still drools when you pet him. He still has zero fucks given when it comes to the dogs. He still enjoys following me around and criticizing my every fart, turn and twist.
Running is still my passion. I went through a phase where I was bound and determined to try and become *fast*. To prove to myself that I could be a different kind of a runner. Or something. Mr. Man made the comment, at one point, that I wasn't a "serious runner"...I think that got in my head and I felt the need to prove him wrong. Which, for reasons that mystify me now, I interpreted as serious=FAST.
I spent the last months of last year and the first months of this year, working on my speed. For the first time in my life, I set actual, challenging time goals around races. I met both of those goals...it was a push, but I did it.
Funny thing though, I didn't enjoy those successes near as much as I would have hoped. I also didn't really enjoy training that way...or racing that way. Focusing on a PR means (for me) that I am focused on my watch. On my pace. On pushing a bit harder for a bit longer. It means I am focused on what the quickest way around this next little clump of runners is, rather than on what their shirts say. It means blowing past the water station and the volunteers, because "ain't nobody got time for that." It means consulate doing runner's math..."how fast do I need to run the next 5 miles to break 1:50?" and "if I am running at 'X' pace, and I have 'Y' miles left, what is my projected finish time?" Bleh.
|Beginning of the rain soaked experience|
|Can you believe how beautiful this is?|
It was the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, in DC. Which is one of my favorites. It's a pretty course - especially at peak bloom...which the race fell smack dab in the midst of. You run past so many monuments, that it's practically a tour of who's who in American Presidential history. It's a relatively *easy* course. My bestie (the PIC) would be there. And I had an awesome Cherry Blossom themed outfit all ready. Priorities, man.
As I gingerly laced up for the first time, post plague, to log a few miles, I could feel that I just didn't have 10 miles at my goal pace in me.
I shed a tear and then made peace with it. And let it go.
I decided that I was going to run this race, and every race after it, for the sheer joy of running it. I was going to just run the mile I was in. Smile, talk to people, take pictures, read shirts and just be present in the moment. Screw the PR. Screw my pace. I needed to take back my race.
And that is exactly what I did.
Over the next several months, I started running with other people.
I stopped worrying about whether they were faster or slower than I am.
I started instead focusing on just enjoying the shared experience.
I embraced my whimsy and quirks and brought them to the road.
I found (and am still finding) my tribe...my *life pace group*.
Runners run. It's what we do.
When we can share that experience with other runners, we swell with joy.
My faster friends are easily able to keep my pace and are happy to do it, for the sake of running together. We run when we want to, just for the fun of it. f they need to run race pace for training...well, then they do that, and we run another time.
I can run my slower friends' pace. And I am willing and ready and able to do just that. Sometimes I can help push them along to greater distances and greater speeds than they knew they had in them. Others we just chat.
And this is the beauty of the running community. Running is a solo act, but can be a shared experience.
|A morning "run" on the AT|
|There is a real story here...|
The trails because, hi, I'm clumsy on a flat surface. Remind me to tell you about the time that I tried to dent the pavement with my face.
The running groups because groups of people, especially those I do not know well, are terrifying. I can handle a large meeting, because I have an agenda and a persona to hide behind. In a social situation?
Me: "who will I talk to? What will I say? Can't I just watch them? What if no one talks to me? What if someone talks to me? Ugh. Maybe I'll just stay home and run on my own. It'll be at the same time as they are running, so that's sort of the same thing, right?"
Other Me: "No. No, it's not. Pull on your big girl panties, lace up your shoes and just get out there, already. They're runners. We all have salt in our sweat."
And so, I do it. And it's always hard. And it's always scary. And it's always infinitely better than I thought it would be.
Ever since I have embraced these changes in philosophy, I've been happier. I've expanded my social circle. Both IRL and online. I've taken some risks, put myself out there, asked to "join in"...and I have yet to be turned away.
I am modeling the behavior that I want my kids to internalize. It's ok to be afraid, but you have to keep moving.
Be present, in this moment, and run the mile you're in.