A look back at the 2010s

The turning of the calendar page last week also signaled the end of the decade. How were your last 10 years? For me it was the best of times and the worst of times. Mostly I felt like I was in survival mode, but in looking back now I feel pretty bad-ass and realized I actually did accomplished a lot. Running and exercise was a big part of life and not only helped me stay sane, but empowered me and made me feel strong.

A certified member of the sandwich generation, I began the decade managing the affairs of both my mother and aunt while working full time in New York City and still not being a stranger to my daughter.  In the aftermath, I closed out two estates. And that was just through summer of 2012.

While all that was going on I took close to a year off from running because of lower back and sciatic nerve pain that was debilitating. I swam. I found a good doctor and physical therapist. When I got Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections in late January and early February of 2012, I was told it would only last about five years. It’s going on eight. I learned a lot about the importance of stretching and strengthening – especially as we age – that I continue to apply today and share whenever I have an opportunity. Warm-ups, cool-downs, post-workout stretching, strength training, yoga, massages: all important in the training mix. And did I mention especially as we age.

2013 was a comeback year in a lot of ways. My end of year post on FaceBook summarized it well: 

2013…a year ago I was about to embark on my first full year living without either of my parents. I was sick of what I believed to be a string of really bad years, so with my mother’s voice in my head saying “you only get out of life what you put into it” I vowed to do whatever I could to make this the best year it could be. And it was! I set goals and I planned. I booked a few fun trips (including almost 2 weeks with my family in Ireland); signed up for (and completed!) 13 half marathons; found an especially meaningful new job and opened myself to new experiences. I reconnected with old friends and long-lost family members; made some new friends and spent special times with my daughter. I read a few good books. And 2013 held amazing surprises too. Thank you to everyone who was there and made all these moments simply incredible.

I was awarded my running club’s “Runner of the Year” in January 2014. Then life as I knew it began to unravel. Professionally, I was unfulfilled. My “especially meaningful new job” became anything but. My marriage was strained. I was suddenly facing the biggest health crisis of my life. There were financial worries. And I was all too aware that I was facing this without the unconditional love and security of my parents, my greatest fans. By October of that year, my husband would be gone too.

For all that 2014 was and wasn’t, it was a catalyst for change. I started prioritizing my roll as a parent and putting career growth on the back-burner. I wanted to be fully present for my daughter now that it was just us. We traveled and had adventures and created new memories that were just ours. I was always the parent that agreed to drive and let the kids hang at our house (where I could keep an eye on them).

Exploring new professional avenues in coaching, I made self-employment and flexibility the focus. I started this blog four years ago this week and have written consistently since. This is my 201st post!

Before the conclusion of 2016, I allowed myself to be open to a new love which has enormously enriched my life. That, and what I  was able to accomplish as a parent (helping my daughter navigate her high school years) led me to one of the biggest changes in my life, my 2018 move to Chicago.

In the 2010s, I ran 8,931 miles which is about 2500 more than the previous decade (in spite of the year off).  It’s amazing how much more time you have to yourself when your child is over 10 and starts sleeping later; how much time you find to run when dealing with monumental challenges; how many miles you can run when you’ve found someone with whom to share them.

In the 2010s, I competed in 167 races (of a lifetime 310), including 6 marathons and 34 half marathon. Yeah, I’m bad ass. If my experiences in the last 10 years taught me anything, it’s that I am more than just a survivor. I am creative, resourceful, and adventurous. When faced with the biggest challenges, I can find courageous and tough. The 2010s were the most challenging time of my life, but brought with it great personal growth. I am grateful for all of it. Thank you to everyone who was there and made this moment simply incredible.

Running strong into whatever lies ahead. On the Lakefront Trail. Oak Street Beach. Chicago, Illinois. December 2019.

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