When you can’t control the weather

When you can’t control the weather

There are events so big we plan for them for months, sometimes years. We do whatever we can to make the day perfect. We agonize over every detail. We think about Murphy’s Law and try to mitigate the risks. Then about 10 days before the big day, we begin obsessively checking the weather forecast. We become engulfed in emotions over the one thing we have absolutely no control over.

This past weekend we were doing just that as Kurt’s son and daughter-in-law prepared for their three-time rescheduled wedding celebration in North Carolina and many of our friends were about to toe the starting line of the Chicago Marathon. No one got the weather they wanted.

The garden wedding ceremony was moved under a tent. Marathoners slowed their pace and adjusted time goals to account for the higher temperature and humidity. Disappointment abound of course, although isn’t it all a metaphor for life?

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Vivian green

Life itself is as unpredictable as the weather and nothing is certain. I was a much different person 28 years ago when I got married the first time. I have come to understand what makes it all so much better now is that in becoming a more mature adult, I’ve learned to dance in the rain. I’ve learned to let go of what’s out of my control and embrace the surprises that come with the ambiguity.

August 24 in Chicago was a horrendously hot and humid day. Although the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I cut my morning run short because of the heat, but was optimistic about the rest of the day’s forecast. Heat I could handle. This was our wedding day.

We met on the Wabash Avenue Bridge and walked slowly toward our ceremony venue in Maggie Daley Park as our fabulous photographer captured each moment. Then a storm cloud appeared. Frantically checking weather apps, we hoped one would show it moving away from us. But that was not to be. Someone was sent back to the hotel to get the six matching umbrellas I had decided just an hour before to leave behind.

The ceremony was marred only by a little wind that threw a few hairs out of place. Some family photos, and we were on the way to our private dinner reception at a restaurant about a mile away. This is when the skies decided to open up. Without hesitating we agreed this was going to create some pretty spectacular photos and we were right. We got drenched. We laughed. We ate dinner wrapped in towels.

Whether we are training for a marathon or planning a wedding, some uncertainly has to be acceptable, because that’s all life has. In being able to manage disappointment in the things we have no control over, in playing whatever cards we’re dealt, we can find joy, contentment and happiness. A marriage is no less a marriage and marathon is still a 26.2 mile spectacular achievement. Plus crappy weather makes for a much better story.

Focusing today on who I’ve become

Focusing today on who I’ve become

World Suicide Prevention Day. My 7th since becoming a survivor of suicide loss. With every passing year I become more distant from that event, although I still feel compelled- maybe obligated is a better word -to say something.

I haven’t written anything here in months. I was interviewed for an article for WomensRunning.com in the spring in which I said something about it not being a good idea to train for a marathon if you’re also starting a new job or planning a wedding or moving. The only thing I haven’t done this summer is move. Or write a blog post.

So, yeah. Kurt and I got married on August 24th. I’ve written a blog post about that – in my head. I went back to working full time with the Chicago Area Runners Association on June 22nd. I’ve written blog posts in my head about that too and a lot of other things but haven’t dedicated the time to put anything “down on paper” so to speak. I will. I promise.

Much of that, I believe – and my conscious decision back in January to no longer be a slave to weekly blog posts – is that much of the purpose this blog served was bridging the gap between who I was in the year following my husband’s suicide and who I was becoming. 

We will “Never Forget” 9-11, but the 20th Anniversary tomorrow, after eighteen months of quarantines, mask mandates, working from home, vaccines, and 4.6 million dead worldwide (674,547 in the US), will pass somewhat unceremoniously. We will be at the Cubs game.

I guess what I’m trying to say is life goes on. That’s what’s supposed to happen.

We cope.

We survive.

We grow.

We thrive.

We never forget, but we learn to live and love again.  And maybe we no longer want to be defined by the tragedy, but by who we’ve become. We honor our losses with our resilience. We become better people from the experience.

I will always be an advocate for mental healthcare. I will tell my story to anyone who needs to hear it. I will urge people to look out for each other; to never take a loved ones mental health for granted. I will support legislation that makes life easier to live. I will do all of that every day if I can.

I’ve had a lot to say in the last six years:

Please feel free to re-read them, and share them. I just think I want to focus now on who I’ve become. I no longer want be to someone who commemorates World Suicide Prevention Day with a blog post.

Vernon Hills, Illinois. September 2021
Gratitude: 25 Years Running

Gratitude: 25 Years Running

There have been a couple running milestones I missed commemorating here because I haven’t been as prolific this year as I’ve been in the past. The first was my 25th Runiversary. That is, the 25th Anniversary of the day I started running which passed unceremoniously on March 4th. The second is Global Running Day which happens each year on the 1st Wednesday in June. So, yesterday.

While I never actually miss – or at least haven’t for as many years as I recall being aware of it – running on Global Running Day, it isn’t always something that goes beyond the run and a post on the ‘Gram: #GlobalRunningDay. My Runiversary, however is usually a personal big deal, perhaps coming in only behind my birthday and Christmas.  I mean I celebrated my 20th year by organizing a group run with friends and then by getting a commemorative tattoo!

So why did a milestone as big as 25 Years go by without acknowledgement? Perhaps because the entire year seemed like a blur and I hadn’t run a single (“official”) race the entire last year of that 25 and honestly the first part of the first year of the “Next 25 Years” didn’t seem to have much to offer either in the way of goals or accomplishments.

Global Running Day 2021 this week was marked with a 5 mile run that I put off until early evening so I could run the first half of it with my running partner and life partner, my fiancé, Kurt. He’s still in physical therapy (“Let’s add conditioning“) and only cleared for a shorter distance. I had already started the first phase of marathon training. We found a way to make it work (as we always do).

Middle Fork Savanna. Lake Forest, Illinois. June 2021.

It was about seven o’clock, sunny, warm and breezy. We chose a nearby forest preserve that we practically had to ourselves at that hour. During the first half of the run with Kurt, I thought about how much it means to me that we share this love. Part of what we love about each other is that we share this love of running and all that goes with it. During the solo second half, I thought about the last 15 months.

While running didn’t always feel like running with no “real” races (“Do virtual races count?“) for which to train, I did run. During my 25th year running, I ran six virtual races and two virtual multi-run challenges totaling 425 miles (“How virtual challenges are keeping me motivated and saving my sanity“). Between August 2 and October 31, I ran every street in Vernon Hills, Illinois (“More lessons learned running every street in a new town”). For 8 of the last 11 months, I ran a “monthly” Half Marathon, just to prove I could.

And for the past several weeks, I have been compiling a digital album to commemorate my First 25 Years Running. In 2013, I began photographing all of my race shirts for the project – and to deal with my obsessive compulsion to keep every shirt (after 320 races, that’s A LOT of shirts!). What’s amazing is that only 15 shirts (or photos) came up missing, but my New Jersey runner friends are helping me fill in the blanks.

On March 4, 1996 when I first laced up a pair of Asics and headed out for a training run, I was in search of an adult sport, having always been an athlete growing up. Nothing else. But through running I found a way to better mental and physical heath. I have found a way to fundraise for some causes that are very meaningful to me. I have explored new cities, foreign counties, and some beautiful scenery not-so-far from home. I have made more friends than I ever imagined I would, and connected with one wonderful human being in a way I never thought possible. 

While goals, challenges, and organized races may seem to give running purpose, running is simply about running and what it does for the soul of each individual runner. Now, three months into the Next 25 Years Running, I take the lessons of the last 15 months with me as we get back to in-person racing – and in-person connecting. Grateful for every mile.

Let’s add conditioning

Let’s add conditioning

What an honor it was to be interviewed for an article for Women’s Running this month (M. Rodenburg, “5 Tips for Sticking to Running Once the Pandemic is Overwomensrunning.com, April 14, 2021). While the author focuses on those who took up running during the pandemic and want to stick with it, the piece offers appropriate tips for any of us.

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