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.

Flexibility

Flexibility

This past weekend was the New Jersey Marathon and Half Marathon. I ran the Half – my goal race for the spring, I didn’t come anywhere near a personal best. Was off by almost 20 minutes actually.  But that wasn’t my goal. My goal was to get back into training shape, on the way to a bigger goal of a personal best in the full Marathon a year from now. I was thinking the bench mark for “training shape” would be a sub-2 hour Half. Didn’t quite get there. I wasn’t disappointed though.  I did way better than I did at Newport last fall. I finished really strong with the last 5k being my fastest and running stronger in the 2nd half of the race overall. So mission accomplished, right?

If I am honest with myself, I will admit that had I stuck to my training plan, I would have easily run Sunday’s Half in under 2 hours. Its kind of like in school when you didn’t study for the test, pass, but also realized that had you studied, you would have gotten an “A”. I guess it comes down to understanding why you didn’t study, asking yourself if getting an “A” really matters that much, and where does the “lower grade” leave you in accomplishing the bigger goal? There is often a fine line between being “flexible” and sucumbing to that voice in our head that is sabotaging us.

It’s important to listen to what we are all telling ourselves when we make excuses.  When we hear ourselves say things like “I don’t have enough time” we need to ask “what about that is true?” and “what about that is false?” We don’t have enough time because we are making a choice to do something else with our time. We build our lives on the choices we make in each moment. Is the choice we’re making good or bad? I believe making a choice to be flexible is good. Flexible branches move with the wind, rigid ones break.

We all need to create a balance in our lives so we can do and be what makes us happy, make a living, stay healthy, and maintain the relationships that are important to us. That isn’t always easy and sometimes our values are in conflict with one another. Yes, sticking to our training schedule honors our values of discipline, health, achievement, and accomplishment, etc.; but what we value about our family can take time away from our workouts. Or sometimes our health is more important than getting through a workout. Pushing ourselves through illness or injury has consequences. Those issues are real. Saying we have no time to work toward achieving goals when we are spending an hour or two on social media everyday is not.

Two questions that I repeatedly ask my clients are ‘what do you want?” and “what’s important to you about that?” The answers to these two questions clarify priorities and help us make decisions. A follow up might be, “what affect does this decision have on your bigger goal?” Re-establishing a commitment to the big goal helps us evaluate those voices in our head. In allowing ourselves to compromise on smaller goals, are we ultimately sabotaging the bigger goal?

Running for 20 plus years has shown me that our commitment to intense training ebbs and flows. The reasons why we run change. That’s a natural occurrence that helps us avoid complete burnout. That flexibility is important. There are times when we need to be more available to our kids, our work schedules are more of a priority, or we are more committed to other goals. Its all about creating balance. Being flexible helps us stay balanced.

Yeah. I could have trained harder and ran a better time on Sunday. But it doesn’t matter. Through the training I did, I stepped closer to the big goal. I also developed some good habits like getting back to the gym for strength and cross training and eating healthier. By remaining flexible in the time I put into my training, I still had time to dedicate to my role as a mom and building my business. I’m feeling very balanced. Now if I can just spend a little less time on social media, I’ll be all ready for next year’s Marathon. 🙂

IMG_6525Long Branch, New Jersey. April 2017.