A Lesson in Humility: My first DNS Race

I had trained two months for this race: The Rockdale Ramblin’ Run 10k.

Tuesdays and Thursdays I arose and trained 5:30- 6:30 a.m.

DNS is runner code for “Do Not Start”– or forfeit. Since 2015 when I began racing, I had never missed one. This was unlucky #14.

And the morning of, my body said no. Need overcame will. Shot pride.

At 6:15 a.m. April 29, my alarm went off. Our team was meeting at 7:15 to stretch– the race began at 8 a.m.

But literally, I couldn’t even get out of bed. Sometimes I have random eye pain and it flared up that morning– I couldn’t see, let alone drive. I put my prescription eye ointment in, applied a cold wet washcloth, texted my trainer and a friend who was going to cheer me on that I wasn’t going, and went back to bed.

But I had also been desperately trying to fight off a cold since Weds– I even called off work Thursday. I had the works– sore throat, majorly runny nose, coughing. And the weather forecast was cold, windy and most likely rainy. I also have a suppressed immune system– so it takes me longer to get over being sick. It wasn’t worth it to miss another day of work just to for pride’s sake.

I slept till 11:30 a.m. and felt rested. But also kinda devastated. Especially since it’s the last year for this particular race, which is historic and has earned the nickname “The Toughest 10k in the Midwest” because of several steep hills. Plus, I just wanted to be there with my friends. We had so much fun doing the Shamrock Shuffle 8k in Chicago in March– and I had crushed it!

Also, it was going to be my first race with people cheering me on! I’ve been wanting that a long time.

I had promised myself I would go and try– at least up the first hill, where my friend Marlene would be cheering me on since she lives directly on the route, and I had asked for her support. And if I couldn’t, I wanted to be there to cheer on support my friends were were racing. I felt like I had let down my teammates, though running is a solitary sport. I have friends now through the training and also two local running clubs I’ve joined.

But most of all, I hated feeling weak and out of control of my body. I was convinced if I rested, I could summon the strength to power through. But truthfully, I burned myself out training so hard.

I had begun going to bed early and waking up early. About halfway through I just stayed up as normal and was barely getting 4-5 hours the days I trained. All I did for two months was run, work, sleep, and beat myself up about not running if I missed it. I didn’t really see my friends.

I thought my runner friends would judge me. But none of them did– they were actually very supportive. They wrote on my wall that they were sorry I couldn’t race, but there were other races. That I should just get better and rest.

I also realized I couldn’t expect myself to perform on their level when these awesome people have been racing for years and are a higher level of fitness. Most of them race nearly every weekend– if not twice! They do halfs and marathons. They can do 10 miles easy.

I’ve been racing two years but am only now getting “serious” about running. I’m starting to care about my times and train for specific pace goals. Learning about nutrition, stretching.

I’ve spent the past few weeks coming to terms with what changes I need to make so that this doesn’t happen –hopefully– again. I need to be realistic about my goals.

I decided to cancel my plans for the Solider Field 10 Mile I had been hoping to do for months–I just can’t add that mileage confidently in three weeks. My body needs more time to adjust, and that’s okay. Two people invited me to do a half-marathon this fall but I’m going to table that, although it’s a huge compliment!

I’ve decided that to make this loss right with myself, I will run the course anyway– just so I can say I ran the route. I love the event hoodie that came with the packet, but I feel like a liar wearing it. I have the course map and some friends who have run the race a few years. I’m going to use that route for training to get myself comfortable with the 10k distance and hill work. I will do it alone too until I can run it hopefully without the map.

And then I will pin on my race bib and run my best time, and maybe ask my friend to cheer me on again. I forgive myself but I can still learn from the experience and take on the challenge!

I’m still a little stuffy) but my throat is clear and no cough. I’ve been on two run since yesterday– 8 miles!

I may be slower to learn, but I’m not quitter! I have a 5k in Rockdale next weekend– so I’ll be running in the same neighborhood with some hills, even if it’s half the distance. That makes me feel better.

As runners often say: “It’s just a hill. Get over it.”


Letter to Myself at 36

I am proud of you.

You prevail even when feeling uncertain, jump without knowing when you’ll land– but always knowing you will not falter.

If you don’t know how or when to move when feeling overwhelmed, you pray. You hit your knees in gratitude, in humility. You journal to work out your feelings. Then you act.

You adult every day and know that sometimes, that includes sleeping in on weekends because that’s just what you want to do. You turn down events you could attend, but don’t feel like it– because it’s okay to do that.

Your girlfriends are a supportive, hilarious, challenging and diverse bunch. They remind you of your fire, are honest when you’re acting batty, and love you unconditionally. Your male friends are few but treasured. They have become your brothers.

You are a devoted daughter and cultivate a close relationship with your parents. You don’t take for granted that they live 5 minutes away. You’re aware that as cool as they are, they are also aging. You now enjoy a close friendship based on respect and shared history.

You are flawed, but that makes you wonderful and genuine.

You are working to better your life while also appreciating the progress thus far.

You are kind, but with boundaries.

You are quietly advancing on the path meant for you. You are steady.

Amee, I love you.




My Dad’s First Selfie and Acceptance

At age 72 today, my father said, “Let’s take a selfie!”

I couldn’t help laughing.

“Aww Dad, you said ‘selfie!’ I’m so proud.”

Today we celebrated by going to Mass at his parish, then to brunch, and finally a father/daughter movie date– our tradition.

I then suggested we go into the back yard and take some pictures. We always take them in the house, with the worst lighting. They all look the same– in the kitchen or living room. It was nice to get outside with all the grass and the plants he and Diane meticulously plant and tend to each spring.

We took one of he and I, and then Diane and I.

Then the three of us.

Then it was Bohrer Family Selfie Time.

My Dad proclaimed, “I’ve got long arms!” The better to aim with, I suppose.

But he lacks the know-how otherwise. First, he’s a tall man. Six feet, broad shoulders. Huge hands. A jock for most of his young life. An Army veteran– officer.

Instead of wrapping his left arm around my step-mom and I, he held both hands outstretched in front– leaving Diane behind my Dad so you can only see the top of her hair and eyes. I’m in the bottom left corner, jutting just barely in frame.

We’re all making ridiculous faces, having no idea what we look like.

I think these two might be the best pictures we’ve ever taken! Stupid, random. All of us were tickled by the results.

Selfies have been a thing for so long now that most people find them annoying. But today, I reconnected with the wonderful silliness that made this behavior such a standard.

The delightful awkwardness of assembling into frame somehow– the comedy of viewing the results. Trying again, to see if you can get a better one with everyone in-frame and without some goofy expression.

It’s just about having fun. We’re not a family that insists the pictures be perfect.

We were all in a great mood today. I feel so abundantly lucky.

Earlier my Dad and I went to see “Jurassic World,” at the mall.  I couldn’t have had a better date!

And somehow, we matched! He was wearing a bright plaid shirt with many bright colors– blue, white, red, yellow. My dress was blue and white with large horizontal stripes– I felt very Eighties in it!

My father is the strong silent type. Like Silent Bob. But also with a gentle, dry sense of humor. His words are concise and meaningful. And I’m so lucky to be his daughter.

I found a wonderful peace this afternoon with him. An acceptance.

I am happy.

Also, my father is the reason I am single and happy. He’s always on my side.

Because my father is the man who has always and WILL always stand by me. My father’s love is unfaltering, always steady. When he makes a promise, he keeps it. When I call, he answers– if only to tell me he can’t talk right then. On the rare occasions he doesn’t, he will usually text or call me back within a short times pan. He is always eager to spend time with me, even if it’s just to help me fix something. My father shows his love most through acts of service. He helps me any way he can, when I accept it. Sometimes I don’t. But what I’ve learned is that sometimes being a good daughter means having the humility to accept the help my father willingly offers. Not always. But today for example. I mentioned this week that I don’t have a can opener (I know, ridiculous!) and borrowed one from them. My practical father noted the information and today presented me with that item.

Sure, I could refuse it and buy my own can-opener. But it made him happy to give me one.

And I’m happy he cares and pays attention to little details like that.

So today was a wonderful day with my favorite person.

Returning Home on Holy Thursday

After Holy Thursday Mass, I have a wonderful feeling.

I was told about a chicken dinner at my most recent parish– the one I left for a smaller, closer one.

I was glad to go back. I never thought anyone would notice I was gone.

Happily, I was wrong.

During Peace, this parish gives a few minutes to walk around and talk– there are a lot of huggers. It’s not just a quick handshake and a stoic nod like in most Catholic parishes.

One woman came up to me with a smile and a hug and said, “I haven’t seen you in awhile.”

Another introduced herself to me and I said I’d been gone for a bit.

“Come home,” she said.

I found myself wanting to cry.

“I will,” I said.

One of my oldest friends’ father was there, as always– he beamed and gave me a hug. He’s always treated me like his own daughter.

The best part of Mass tonight was the foot washing. I haven’t seen that done in many years. The last time I experienced that was at a conference for young Catholics in our diocese. Roughly a decade ago, I’m guessing.

I lined up to have my feet washed. There was a small pitcher of water, a bowl, and someone with a towel. It symbolizes forgiveness– having your sins washed away.

Some of us lined up to have our feet washed, others stayed seated. In preparation we removed our socks and shoes. It was more difficult for me to volunteer to be washed than I expected. I was more comfortable with the idea of washing others’ feet. But I wanted to participate, so I took the role available. I had to put my ego away.

Foot washing is such an intimate act– it embodies humility and trust. The person doing the washing humbles themselves and those volunteering to be washed are also humbled– by making themselves vulnerable. Your feet are usually always covered and protected. Usually the only people who see us barefoot are are our families and those in our inner circle.

Another woman asked how work was doing for me– am I in the same place? I had asked her how I could volunteer to wash feet– “Next year,” she said with a smile.

Next year sounds wonderful.

During Holy Communion, I found myself weeping openly. I hadn’t realized how much I would miss this little parish– and especially not that anyone would miss me. I had gone to others that were more convenient– closer, with more Masses from which to choose. More activities, more people my age. I could hear better.

I even signed up officially at a different parish and took a picture to be included in their directory.

But I hadn’t felt anything. I kept going, hoping eventually it would grow on me.

Yet tonight, I felt something immediately in this parish. I felt welcomed. I felt MISSED.

No one asked WHY I had been gone– but only welcomed me back with love.

I felt gratitude. I felt sad that I had ever left. Like one of the lost sheep in the flock.

I had been searching for my spiritual home. Tonight, I returned.

I lit a candle afterwards, praying for this parish which captivates my heart. It’s struggling for attendance.

My attendance would help.

As I left Mass, I glanced up at the large Jesus on the back wall– a big cloth outline in which the names of all the parishioners were written on small pieces of felt and stuck on to symbolize that we all live in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

My name was still there, right where I left it.

Hit Your Knees (On Humility)

Today I woke up later than I had planned. I had set my alarm. Not sure what happened, but I did not rise.

Luckily I was off work today, so it didn’t interfere with something important.

But my immediate reaction was to get angry at myself.

“Why did I sleep in? Ugh!”

And since I’ve given up resentment for Lent, this is relevant.

This Lenten promise is drawing my attention to how often I take myself to task when it’s futile. Thus, I am making a conscious effort to nip those feelings in the bud right away.

I could either start my day feeling that I already had screwed up, or I could accept it and move on.

So that’s what I did.

I got up, and started my routine and began my tasks for the day.

And although I didn’t accomplish everything I had wanted, I still got a good amount done.

I always say “Good morning!” to God when I wake up. I try to say it with a smile. I thank Him.

Us Catholics are known for genuflecting often during Mass. It is symbol of our submission to God.

I’ve been trying to start my day by praying on my knees, and also before I go to bed.

I’ve been lazy about this. There’s no excuse– my knees are young and perfectly capable of it!

The idea is that we are taking a moment to do a physical action that connotes our humility. Genuflecting is not supposed to be comfortable or convenient.

It’s not about what we want- it’s about reminding ourselves that we are servants to Him.

Thus, I’m taking myself to task to start and end my day by hitting my knees as well as praying– every morning and every evening. As I keep this routine, it should become a spiritual reflex.

Somewhat selfishly, I also hope it will also lead to better, faster sleep!!

Do you have a morning/evening prayer routine? What do you get out of hitting your knees for the Lord?

Just A Little Patience

God is so frustrating !!!

You think you know what you’re doing, and then get a heaping reminder from Him that you don’t.

I think maybe He is trying to teach me patience.

I make no apologies for expressing my opinions and needs, because I feel that’s healthy and necessary. But I also admit that I can be impatient. The glory of being single is that you can always have it your way. But yes, it does get old after awhile.

It’s a mighty struggle to discern His will. That’s why we pray incessantly.

He wants us to talk to him. He wants to be part of the conversation of our lives.

It is a constant struggle to cultivate humility and yet persevere with our decisions and goals. I don’t always feel strong enough to take the path that it seems God wants me to take. I’ve always been a big subscriber of the “signs” idea. The only pervasive answer I can find to questions I ask about where to go is an intense, persistent desire to do something.

That’s where our faith becomes mandatory. That’s why we need faith.

God does not give up just because we feel hesitant or blatantly reject the idea.

He is more patient than any of us.

He’s Gotta Have Faith, Faith, Faith

Why am I online dating? One reason.

I’m lookin’ for a good Catholic man. Not just one who was “raised” Catholic– but a right-now believer.

And to make things even more interesting, I’m a Catholic liberal. Whoa! Ideally, he would be too. But as long as he’s Catholic.

The kind who will go to Mass with me not because I drag him there, but because he’s tired of going alone. The kind who prays every day for those he loves, and thanks God for the gifts in his life. The kind who has been praying to meet a good Catholic woman– like me. Someone with whom I can share my faith, rather than debate it. Who will want to go on a retreat with me one day.

I’ve decided Catholicism is the one thing I will not surrender in my search.

Why do I want an actively Catholic man? Because if relationships are best built on common interests, I think religion ought to be  the #1 common interest for me. Catholicism is not just my religion– it’s my culture. It’s my identity. I read books about Catholicism. I have a crucifix and rosaries on my wall. I adore Ash Wednesday.

Being Catholic is an inextricable part of my emotional fabric, and the framework of my value system. I hope to raise Catholic children someday, if I’m lucky.

I’ve ended relationships over religion. And it was excruciating– for both of us. I’ve done it twice– and never want to experience that again. There were other issues that came between us– but religion was a source of major contention. And after years of trying to find ways around it, one day I had to admit it was an impasse.

The ensuing sulfuric guilt still haunts me to this day, because they are both wonderful, loving men. I loved them both. And both have since moved on to new relationships, which is bittersweet indeed. I did everything possible to suspend my doubts about our compatibility and give those relationships a  chance. I did it because they  were courageous men of character, and I wanted a chance to be happy with them. Because they professed their love often and with passion. But they ultimately could not understand this one crucial aspect of me, even if they tried to be respectful.

Both were Atheists– the latter actually became Anti-Theist. At best, they tolerated my Catholicism. At worst, they considered me deluded.

And I need a man who not just tolerates my belief, but understands it. Who is attracted by it. Who challenges my faith to grow, not exist.

But ultimately, there’s another vitally important reason I will not compromise this one requirement.

I want a man who will pray with me. At dinner, when we are struggling, and especially when we are thankful!

Because a man who loves God is a man who believes in something higher than himself– who understands humility. A man who can be strong enough to surrender his life to a force unseen and TRUST enough to do His will first– that’s a man that will also dedicate himself to being a steadfast husband and father. That’s a man who knows the value in putting others first.

A man who trusts God is a man who can LOVE with tremendous conviction and prevail in times of strife with direction and faith– because he knows that it his not him, but HIM, who is in control.

I know that man is out there. I wish I could meet him the “regular” way– but these days, the regular way is becoming online.

So I’m just another bumbling soul, looking online for a good Catholic man who wants the same thing I do.