Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us

Deena Kastor

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Not the end of the World

"Running is real and relatively simple....but it ain't easy"  Mark Will-Weber

Yesterday we decided to cancel the event in April. I have an injury that is not going to heal in time for me to run. For several weeks now I kept hoping that everything was going to work out and that this was just a small glitch in this whole process. But it turned out to be more than that and although I am extremely disappointed, there are many things I have enjoyed throughout this journey.

I have been running for almost fifteen years and after awhile it just became more of a habit than a passion. I felt like I had to run because I was a runner-which made it alot less enjoyable. But training for this event really brought back my deep love for the sport. It felt as if I transcended from being "a runner" to actually become "running". As difficult as it is to explain, I am sure there are many of you who understand what I am talking about. I have read stories of people who climb to the summit of Mt. Everest and being unable to describe how or what they felt. Sometimes its the same with running.

The support I received and continue to receive from family, friends, and co-workers has been incredible. I have enjoyed sharing my small triumphs along the way as I gradually increased my mileage each week. This is going to start sounding like an Oscar acceptance speech but really, I am so thankful that my husband was there for me at every long run-whether he was bringing me water or just checking to make sure I was still alive. I'm sure he is a little relieved  by the fact that we won't have to eat so much pasta for a while:)

And I have really enjoyed writing this blog. Some people have told me that I make them laugh. That is good for me to hear and I hope I can continue to do that in some way. I don't know, maybe I'll write a book some day.

So, I have had some great runs, alot of time to myself. I learned how to pee and run at the same time-not something everyone needs to know how to do but believe me, it was necessary at the time. I know my body, and I know its ability to heal itself over time. It won't be long before I'm running again. At this point I am not sure whether I will continue with this blog. I will give it some thought.

More importantly, I have not forgotten the reason we began this journey. I was running to support child abuse awareness and prevention. I will continue my work towards reducing the number of deaths we have in the U.S. from child abuse. Maybe in the future there wouldn't be any reason to run four marathons unless it was just for fun.

Take care everyone......and run a few extra miles for me ok? :)))



Monday, January 24, 2011

Your ride is here

A few weeks ago I ran my first back to back 20 milers and it  went surprisingly well. The second run was actually ten minutes faster than the first. I even felt like I could have run another 20 on the third day but that would have been too much mileage to add at this point. The following weekend I ran one 25 miler and that went great as well. I was tempted to run another 1.2 miles to make it a marathon but I held back.

So far the most difficult part of these long runs is not having someone to run with. Actually, there are people to run with, I just need to break out of my anti-social shell and ask someone to join me. Normally I enjoy the time to myself but I have added so many more miles now and I have  spent a fair amount of time talking to myself.

Sometimes I talk to my sister Alisha. She is planning to run ten miles each day with me in April and I am so excited for that. She has four young kids and a full time career in law enforcement so I know it could not have been easy to find a way to take time off. I hope someday I can do something for her in return. I am confident that it will not involve snakes because she is just about as afraid of them as me.

We are very close and I think she knows just about everthing there is to know about me. Some people have said we look alike but we don't see that. We probably have some of the same mannerisms or facial expressions. I think  some of our most memorable times together were from when we shared an apartment together in our early twenties. Everything was new to us right down to filling out the paperwork for a rental agreement and getting a phone hooked up. Our only transportation at the time was unfortunately, a bike. We both worked at the same grocery store which was less than two miles from our place. The tricky part was bringing groceries home. And on the nights when only one of us worked the other would ride "the bike" to the store to "pick up" the other. So, if it was your night to work you got "a ride" home. It was a great workout for both. Either you were building strengh in your legs from the extra weight on the front of the bike, or you practiced your balancing skills by keeping yourself from falling off the handle bars. We will never forget our apartment manager showing us our parking space and saying, "Now don't go squealin' yer tires".  No chance of that happening.

There was a time when she tried to get me to run with her and I would do my best to avoid it everytime. Then at some point, about fifteen years ago I just decided I wanted to be a runner and ran around the block. That was pretty much all it took. The first race I participated in was a five-miler in the small town we lived in. Alisha ran the race as well. We didn't really train for this run. If I remember correctly, we ran five miles the night before just to see if we could run five miles. Then, without  a car (we didnt' have furniture either) we had to walk three miles just to get to the start of the race.  But we both did very well and placed in our age group. I've been running ever since.

I have plenty of stories to tell you all about my life experiences with Alisha. Maybe next time I will tell you the "Carrot Cake" story. She might not remember that one but I do. Time and memories with siblings is diffferent than that with anyone else isn't it? They seem to know just when to call or write. They know what to say when you are going through tough times. Alisha and I have some kind of invisible-energy-connection- like thing where we can read each other's mind from thousands of miles away. I am sure there are many of you who have the same experience.

I wish you all well and I hope that your life is moving in the right direction. I know that sometimes we want life to move much faster than it does, especially when we see great things ahead. But I know from experience that often our only means of transportation forces us to take our time and carry some extra weight. The pedals are harder to push. However, it all seems worth it in the end. Before long you will be cruising along with only memories of that time.....just don't go "squealin' yer tires".



Friday, January 7, 2011

Out of order

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and had a wonderful time with friends and family. The start of a new year can be a very exciting time. I know for many people it is a time to begin the work towards accomplishing a new goal and look forward to the months ahead with hope and possibly a bit of doubt. For others the new year might be a dreaded thing. And for some, it is a time to just plain start over.

 It has been a while since my last post and I have run quite a bit in the last few weeks. Although I just watched a documentary about three men who decided to run across the Sahara Desert (4,000+ miles) over a period of three months, running up to 60+ miles each day. Now that is quite a bit of running. One of my favorite quotes from the film went something like this: "If you don't want excitement in your life, just run a marathon". Well if you need to be running in 100+ degree weather with a constant stream of sand in your shoes, mouth, nose, and eyes, wondering just how hostile the next border crossing will be (land mines?), just to be excited then I say, "Go for it!" Most healthy-minded people are perfectly content and even get excited to run one marathon at a time.Yes, I know what you are thinking.....but at least I'm not running in a desert! That would be crazy. There could be snakes!

My body seems to be changing a little. I still have my Fred Flinstone calves though, only they are getting bigger. The other day I put on some white knee high socks, thinking I was going to wear a short skirt with them. When I looked in the mirror my calves looked more like those of a bulky rugby player who happens to play the bagpipes on weekends for weddings and other community events. Not the look I was going for.

For those of you who know me well have probably heard me complain about my calves before and know that if I could change anything about my body it would be these two things. I suppose we all have something we wish could be different about our body. For many women I know its  hips, thighs and boobs. For men, I don't know. I guess I never hear of men sitting around the table discussing the tragedy of various body parts or talking about how they are never eating again because the jeans they wore at age fifteen no longer make it past their knees. Its not just what our bodies look like though its what they are capable of doing-or not doing. As we age our bodies begin to respond by slowing down and sometimes malfunctioning. Everyone gets here one way or another. Really its proof of life-the way we grow and change and adapt to our environment with our "new" body. Maybe its part of the meaning of life. I think I've been searching for that for thirty-five years now so I'm only guessing. The problem is that sometimes the things that give our life meaning are the things we aren't able to do anymore because

But we humans are quite awesome that way. We tend to find meaning in everything. And so we move on and find new ways to move our bodies, taste different foods, mend broken friendships, travel to exotic countries, and begin to accept ourselves for who we are-yet again.

I will try not to let so much time go before I write again. This weekend I will be running my first back-to-back 20-milers. Not alot for the weird desert people but its enough for me :) I wish you all well and good luck to those who are in the beginning phases of a new journey.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Put it on the List

Well the back-to-back long runs have begun. I am a fairly slow runner so my weekends now consist mostly of eating, showering, and running. By the end of December or early January I will have completed a weekend of two 20-milers. There are runners who do this all the time and to them it would be the equivalent of me running two 5-milers. But we all have challenges that are often unique to only our own self. Is that true for most of you?

Lately I've been thinking of creating a "bucket list". For those of you who might not know what this is-it comes from the movie "The Bucket List". Or at least I think that's where it comes from. It is a list of things you want to do or see before you "kick the bucket". The  movie is great to watch-Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman together-an interesting combination.

I thought of this idea while out on a run. In fact, most of what I write in this blog comes to me during a run. So what would you put on your bucket list? I have to admit so far several of the items on my list are physical challenges-except for meeting Tom Hanks....and writing a book. Does a blog count? I can't believe I am going to put rock climbing on it but I know in my heart there is something inside me that says to. I will never, ever, in life-or in death-put touching a snake on my bucket list!

As a runner, I am inspired to try new things and challenge my body to do more. I often think to myself, "well if I can do this then.....". As a person, I am inspired by others to be the best person I can possibly be. There might be some overlap but you can't have one without the other right? Could I or would I run four marathons in four days without the help of other people or without being inspired by someone other than myself? Probably not.

How cool would it be to give this ability to children and teens who are abused-to have goals and achieve them? I know many of them struggle with this for a number of reasons and then often suffer the consequences. We can do this-we all know that a better life is possible-we just have to somehow convince others.

When I ran the Seattle Marathon a few weeks ago I actually felt some of the emotions that I did at the finish line of my first marathon. I think it was because at that moment, in the last minutes before crossing the finish line, I realized that I was probably running with some "first timers". And I also realized that for many people that day, it was the day for them to accomplish a life long dream. Somewhere at some point in their life they decided that someday they were going to run a marathon. And I was there when it happened. What if this was on their "bucket list"?

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it" Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bring on the Snickerdoodles

Last week I ran the Seattle Marathon. I happen to love Seattle very much and enjoy running in the city. The course is beautiful and I encourage anyone who is interested in running a marathon to consider it. My body felt surprisingly good throughout most of the run and I have recovered much faster than I have in the past. That is a good sign for April's event. I was worried that I would run Seattle and at the finish feel like I had made a big mistake by thinking I could run four in four days. Luckily, that was not the case.

So Christmas is here again and it is time to decorate and bake cookies. My favorite are snickerdoodles and I love to come home after a long-or a short run- and have a "few" with hot cider or coffee. For the past couple of years I have had a "baking day" with one of my teachers from high school. She became more than a teacher to me in my junior year of high school when I lived with her family for almost the entire year. A lot of people don't know this about me but I was headed down the wrong path as a teen and might have led a completely different life if it weren't for a number of people who stepped in and helped to change course. This particular family became a major part of my foundation for who I am today. I might not be a runner if it weren't for them.

I would spend the week at their house and go home on the weekends. At first it was like another world and felt as if I was part of a t.v. family. You know the type of family where violence and drugs don't exist and the homes don't have holes in the walls from someone using them as punching bags. They still have problems but they tend to be solved in 30 minutes or less and everyone says "I'm sorry" and "I love you" and blah blah blah. I mean, give me a break, that is so not real. I kept thinking that at any moment everything was just going to blow up and the true family was going to come out. But it never happened. They genuinely loved and respected each other. And it was a home of compassion and laughter. There were rules too which I actually liked. I felt important and wanted-the way all kids should feel.

I can't say that my life has been perfect since that year-I have definitely taken some wrong turns. But if I compare my life to a big stack of cookies, where the crumbly ones sometimes get placed in the middle or fall off the top and cause the stack of cookies to topple over-they are the big cookie-the one that is always there one the bottom-the sturdy cookie that you can always rebuild on.

Hopefully I will write again before Christmas but I wish everyone well in the coming weeks as we are all putting up our trees, decorating and baking- spending time with those that are important to us. In other words, BRING ON THE SNICKERDOODLES!



Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mind over Matter

So far I have truly enjoyed sharing my thoughts with my nine followers and others who read my posts. Ok, one of the followers is myself, so eight followers. I hope to attract more as we involve our friends, family members, and the community in our effort to support child abuse prevention education.

The training is going well and is increasing steadily each week. I find myself getting hungrier throughout the day. I am sure my body will adjust to the changes though. The Seattle Marathon is next weekend after Thanksgiving and I am looking forward to it. I ran last year and had a horrible race so I am hoping to have a better experience this time. It is a beautiful city with so much to do and see I don't think anyone would blame me if I decided to skip the race and go holiday shopping instead.

I know this is the time of year to think about the things or people we are thankful for having in our lives.  I have a very, very long list. Where would you be without certain people in your life? Or, where would you be if certain events didn't take place at a certain time in your life? Wouldn't your life be different? Probably not as good right?

I really like the part in the movie Forest Gump when he is at Jenny's grave and he is saying that he doesn't know whether "momma" or "lieutenant Dan" was right-do we each have a destiny or are we floating around gentle-like on a breeze? He says "maybe its both-maybe both is happening at the same time". I know I am thankful for that movie :)

I don't know for sure, but I do think about it alot-usually while I'm running. I think about the people in my life and how they have all in some way helped me to be who I am. And I am a pretty neat person so I owe a big thanks to a whole bunch of people. Whether it was part of a destiny or not-I'll just say I am grateful.

At mile 21 of my first marathon there was a man shouting from the side of the course, "Its mind over matter from here, its mind over matter from here" I have told this story a couple of times already and I will probably keep telling it. When you run a marathon, mile 21 is when it really starts to get difficult and it becomes the time when you start questioning your decision to start the race and doubting yourself that you will finish. It really is "mind over matter". I finished and have been thankful for him-and I think of his words every time I reach mile 21.

That's the way it is for the difficulties and challenges we face in life. Our beliefs, faith, perseverance, and connection with others is what drives us to finish. So, I wish you well this Thanksgiving and I hope that we all take the time to be thankful for life-the people in it and our ability to live it with grace and compassion. And don't forget to thank yourself as well, because you never know who's sitting at the table before a roasted turkey being so thankful for having known you.



Sunday, November 7, 2010

You are Not a Cat

I will never forget the day during a not so good time in my life when I was given a very important piece of information. It wasn't advice-just words to live by. It was a time when I had just about given up on life and had taken many chances, nearly coming close to the end. But sitting across from me one morning was a woman who seemed to have much more faith in me than I had in myself. Our conversation was coming to an end and there was that last pause that sometimes happens before one or both people get up to leave. She looked at me and I was looking out the window to the right and she said to me, "You are not a cat". I turned and looked at her and then the floor and said, "ok".

Honestly, I didn't think about what she said to me until years later. But it's true, we are not cats, we don't have nine lives-only one.  And I try to remember that and recite it to myself every time I feel afraid to try something new, or hesitant to say something that I know is important or would make another person feel better. Or, when I run.

There are many brave people in the world who do great things and make the one life they have count. Just think of all the moms and dads in the world who take on the challenge of raising human beings. Now, that's what I call being brave, especially when they are trying to work and get straight A's in parenting at the same time. A  good parent knows that he/she is not a cat and that their children are not cats either.

I know that this blog has not been about the specifics of my training for April. But it has been about running. Running for me, is a reflection of my life. It's slow and uncomfortable sometimes. It involves triumph over adversity and an unbelievable amount of patience. I've learned to love myself and my body and it's ability to do amazing things.  And like many people I have developed an deep appreciation for the human heart-the way it keeps us alive and helps us to feel compassion.

I imagine though, as my training becomes more challenging I will be telling you all of my new found aches and pains that are uncommon for those who run just one marathon (you know-the NORMAL people!) And I will be sorry for boring you all to death, but hey, maybe I am already:) The thing is runners like to talk about running and in my experience the only people who like to hear about running are other runners. Just ask my husband. I'm sure by April he would pay a million dollars to anyone who could convince me to try another sport.

So, eat a little bacon, go sky diving, write the letter you've been meaning to write, send your sister the  eyeshadow she let you borrow for your wedding, start going to the gym (ASAP), tell that one person you love them. What are you waiting for? are not a cat.