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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Running into surprises

I started writing a blog post about my half marathon experience this weekend. The Illinois marathon in Champaign, IL. There was so much to it and so many points that I want to expand upon and celebrate.

However each time I think about the race or try to explain it in person one thing keeps coming up.

The energy.

Everything surrounding this race, the day before, the runners expo, the race, the runners, the spectators, was so overwhelmingly positive. It felt like we were all a family, maybe some long lost, but so happy to see you and give you a spot of encouragement. A smile. A "good luck". All several thousand of us.


Along the race route I did not expect to talk to so many other runners. I expected to listen to my music and make it through the 13.1 miles running side by side with my sister. Together, but in our own worlds of music and survival. With some encouragement between the two of us. Which there was. We were there for each other when it got hard and we got crabby. But when my iphone decided to stop playing music around mile 3 I started looking around. I spoke to a few ladies, friends who were running together. A couple of guys, one named Bubba. I saw a lady who ran the entire 13.1 miles carrying a large American flag on a pole, waving it high above her head. I spoke to a young childrens minister from Springfield who used to run track and had a kind heart. I laughed with another lady at 2 and a half hours when we realized the most elite had already finished the full marathon. I heard at least 100 people along the side of the road yelling "go sisters!" since that is what our shirts said. Small children along the side of the road giving everyone a high five. Also an old lady doing that in the park. Several bands performing along the way. I saw people stopping to help another runner who was struggling. Yoda and Obi-won. I had friendly zombies handing me a cup of Gatorade. Beautiful country scenery and air. So much encouragement from other runners saying "you got this". Tons of people yelling "Boston strong". Navy ROTC members ringing a bell near the end and EVERY SINGLE PERSON thanking those military persons for their service.

Oh sometimes the blessings that come from things not going my way. When I take off my blinders, or headphones.

I have no idea what to chalk it (the energy) up to. Is it the fact that it was a big race? Is it just Champaign/Urbana? Is this what the running community is all about? Is there something in the air post Boston Marathon incident? Maybe my other distance runner friends can tell me

I have done many other small races. 5ks, and 8k and a 10 k. And don't get me wrong, they were lovely. And I am proud of my participation in them. But nothing like this. Nothing even close.

Whatever it was, it was energizing. It was fulfilling.  It gave me a strange sense that this is what life is all about. As we run this race together, how do we see things and take in our surroundings and help and encourage one another to finish and do our best.

Running this half marathon was one of the most positive experiences of my life.

Is it any wonder I am already thinking about my next half?  I want to do at least one more this year. I cannot wait. Is anyone else in with me?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dear Boston

Words cannot describe what I feel when I see what happened to your beautiful city. And the people who diverged upon it to complete a great human feat of strength and the loved ones and strangers there to cheer you on.

My sister said something on Facebook today that made my heart hurt for you all the more: "my heart goes out to all theBoston runners. It feels so personal to me as not only is Boston like my second home, but as a runner i can only imagine how terrible it must feel to have trained for something so hard and asked to much of yourself physically and mentally only to have your heart ripped out at the end of it..."

I see tragedies like this, Sandy Hook, 911, Columbine, other school and mall and public murders. And it becomes so easy to despair and wonder "what is this world coming to?". "why so much evil?" and despair more deeply when I consider my son, my good sweet innocent boy growing up in this world of heartless cruelty and senseless violence. He deserves better.

We watched reels of the bombing today repeated over and over tonight. I see the plume of smoke. The runner who collapses after being hit with shrapnel. The fear in people's eyes.

Yet that is not all I see. In the midst of this tragedy, where evil wishes to obfuscate and confuse us and create fear, I see, if I look a little harder, away from cowardly act... I see real humanity. I see the majority of us.

I see first responders running into the chaos. I see people who flew hundreds of miles to cheer on friends also helping complete strangers next to them. I see champions who trained for months who may or may not finish crying and praying for the fallen. I see people around me holding their babies a little bit closer. I know of others who will run to honor those affected by this tragedy. I see people on Facebook sending out positive thoughts and prayers and vibes. I see medical personnel who will work a little bit later tonight, beyond their shifts end, to care for the extra rush and need of the survivors. I see volunteer counselors who are already booking their flights out to help those traumatized.

I see tens of thousands of good people sticking it to the one or two dark hearts who perpetrated this.

This darkness is pretty dark. But the light of goodness, if we choose to see it and honor it can outshine anything

Oh Boston. I cannot help to find it ironic that they chose your beautiful streets. For your streets are no stranger to tyranny to war, to oppression. Your alleyways and storefronts and ambiance hold a depth of knowledge of what hope and goodness and wanting better for your children means. I felt it once wandering your streets myself. The Old State House screams it.

Those who have fallen will be counted heroes. As are those who stand with them. You are strong. You are shining.

Boston and all of those affected, you are in my heart, my thoughts, my prayers. You are not alone.

" when I despair, I remember that through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Think of it, always. " - Gandhi


Friday, April 12, 2013

A few of my favorite things

raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Ok, while I do adore my kitty and all of her lovely whiskers, this post is not about a song. Or the Sound of Music. Or objects that I love.

It is however about my son. And just some of his adorableness and antics. That have become my favorites lately. And of course, he, by himself, is one of my favorites (along with his daddy-o)

1. I just put Ben down for a nap. And before we nap or sleep we read. Hes been into turning pages for a while, which I adore, but he has started this thing of picking out his own books. I keep many of his books on the lower branches of his tree shelf now. And he goes up to it. Scans his selection and pulls them out one at a time. If he does not like it, he throws it down. If its one of his favorites, he holds on, and backs up and plops into my lap. We read the book and when done, he tosses the book and gets back up and repeats this process. i think he could do it for hours. I have yet to test those limits. Some of his favorites?
   - Where is Spot
   - The very Hungry Caterpillar
   - I am  a Bunny
   - Dear Zoo
   - brown Bear Brown Bear What do You See


2. His fine motor manipulation impresses me. To tell you the truth, I don't know what is normal for his age. And he is not walking on his own yet. So I hold on to this and enjoy it. He loves to take small objects, for instance, a travel toothbrush holder, his plastic Easter eggs, this hammer bench with little tiny pegs, and a few other random small objects around the house.  He easily pulls the apart, and then puts them back together. little small hard to put together pieces. Like "whatever, its no big deal". "I'm just 13 months and can put the toothbrush holder together faster than you, mom"


3. Somehow we got into this "pillow game". And its possibly just that he loves to imitate. But i put our throw pillow on the floor, and kind of fall into them. If that makes sense, more like plop my head down. And Ben loves to do that too, with me. And he giggles and giggles and giggles. It feels like "our thing". Which is maybe why its my favorite. And its another thing we can do for hours.


4. His relationship with kitty. Its a known fact that my kitty is not exactly outgoing or friendly. She likes to be "with" people and observe, but doesn't like to be approached. Unless she knows/trusts you. And slowly she is allowing Ben to approach. To pet her without running away. And we have been working hard with Ben petting her "gently" which he does. 75% of the time. We are still working on the tail pulling thing. Kitty does not appreciate that. But does mildly tolerate it now.
                                                                  Oh and that signal means "I'm hungry/thirsty"

5. Music. Ben and I sit and play the piano. Or on the guitar I play his some "I'm a little teapot" or "abc's" or "twinkle twinkle little star" (all essentially the same tune). and he loves it. Bounces, dances. tries to figure out how the guitar works. holds the strings. looks inside the sound hole. And he also has a few musical toys that he loves to bop around to. One of note that melts my heart: This black stuffed bear that I got for my mom several years ago when she was alive. I took her to build a bear workshop for her birthday and she was SOOO excited. She picked out this bear and wanted a birthday song inside and some White Sox accessories. So we got all of that. After she passed I kept this bear. And now Ben adores this bear, especially when we play the birthday song from it. Over and over and over. And I tell him about Grandma Mary and how much she loves/would have loved him.

The more I write the more I think of to add. But lets stop at these 5. 

And when the dog bites, when the bees stings, when I've feeling sad. I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel, so bad......