Lucky # 13: My First Shamrock Shuffle 8k!

I’m floating!

On endorphins. On CRUSHING the race goal I set for myself.

On the joy of new running friends. On knowing that I am indisputably more fit.

This was my lucky 13th race, and a phenomenal PR all-around.

To give some context, the only other race with a comparable distance was the Cinco de Miler last year– a five mile, not an 8k. It was May 7, 2016, also in Chicago. At that point I had neglected running for seven brutal months– and then only did that race because my friend Lisa invited me to push past 5ks and try it with her. Like the naive casual runner I was, I ran four miles the night before– rather than resting. My race suffered immensely for it– I had to walk/hobble three full miles due to intense knee pain. I had to stop and sit and massage my knee. Three separate times, I desperately wanted to quit– there was also horrid wind and rain along the Lake Shore Drive. I ended up with a “pace” of 18:18 for 5.15 miles at 1:34:26. I was just happy to finish, period!

Today, my time is ONE HOUR, FOUR MINUTES, and SEVEN SECONDS!! My Nike Running app said my pace is 12:12, but the official race time reports 12:54. Whichever, I’m ECSTATIC either way!! In about 10 months time, I shaved nearly SIX minutes off my pace and nearly 30 full minutes off my finishing time!

Twinges of light knee pain a couple times, but otherwise felt like a gazelle. No knee pain post-race or hours later. I’m getting more fit!!

Today was the first time I’ve felt truly confident in all aspects of a race!

Last night I felt the beginning of a blister on my instep and put a Band-Aid on it. No problem today!

I knew to rest yesterday, save for walking around the expo to pick up my packet. I knew to eat a good dinner and a light breakfast. I drank water and avoided coffee. For the first time in a race, I feel like I finally knew how to DRESS! I had a real base layer and wasn’t cold once all morning. I had a race shirt that was exactly the right size. My race bib wasn’t on crooked. I was even okay doing a gear check without worrying about it. I’m more relaxed in general with the racing scene. And my bag had everything in it– band-aids, Bengay, Tylenol– though I didn’t need any of it.

Probably my biggest accomplishment?

I DID NOT NEED ONE BATHROOM BREAK THE ENTIRE RACE! I truly feel like a bad ass.

A few times I felt the urge to pee, but just told myself to hold it and shortly it subsided. I also only took the first cup of water, but only drank about half in sips and threw the rest out.

I ran only forward the whole time– not even considering what was behind me. I ran mostly in the middle of the road, at my own steady pace. Thanks to the official race results, I know I finished ahead of 2,885 people. BAM.

I saw one woman give another an extra ponytail holder as she passed by. I saw a woman in blue and white run to hug what seemed to be family members briefly, then keep on going. I saw signs of encouragement. I saw people shedding their hats and layers.

I was surprised by how warm *I felt– but I kept my racing stocking hat on because I didn’t want to carry it as I have in past races. And also because yeah, it looked cool!

Crossing the finish line, I was so calm. As I passed into the chute, I reached the volunteers handing out medals. I stepped forward so a man could put it around my neck. I grabbed my banana, water and chips from the boxes.

I asked someone to take a picture of me, sweaty and glorious– brandishing my medal.

I went to gear check, then easily found my running crew peeps.

Everything today went amazing. I was so warm after the race I changed out of my base layer in a porta-john and just wore the race day t-shirt.  People were excited to hear about how I did and so supportive! I got to meet and chat with several people.

I loved picking everyone’s brains about their own racing goals and bucket lists.

Runners are my tribe.

I’m smitten with racing. It’s my happy place.

Now onto my next race goal: the Rockdale Ramblin’ Run on April 29th!

I’ll be learning hill work and building up to 6.2 miles– my first 10k.

Cannot wait for the next adventure!!

 

 

 

 

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Instead: Lyle Lovett Wins

I chose music over fitness tonight.

I drove to Downtown Joliet planning to run this evening. It was after 6. I was driving around looking for a spot to park, when I saw the marquee for The Rialto.

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt!! Playing tonight, 7:30 p.m.

And decided I can run anytime– but this was not a concert to pass up. I had to try.

So I found parking and rushed to the theatre. At the window I asked if it was sold out– it wasn’t!

I was NOT dressed at all appropriately. Running pants and shoes, a hoodie over it. Bad hair! I wasn’t expecting anyone to see me running solo in the dark. Certainly no make-up. I felt a little ridiculous in the midst of all these threat-going people, mostly dressed up. It was definitely an older crowd— probably mostly ’40s and ’50s. Mostly couples.

I was able to get row M, which is a pretty great seat.

Sadly, I had left my hearing-aids at home. I missed out on a lot of the banter.

The shocking thing is that I knew nothing of Lyle besides that he is Julia Roberts’ ex-husband. I was psyched to see John Hiatt– I have one of his CD’s. I was hoping to hear “Have a Little Faith.”

And once they began, I was smitten by Lyle. They were great together– very comfortable and respectful of each other’s talents. They sang and played together a few times and also allowed each other to shine with solos. The audience was laughing often as Lyle mostly spoke and told stories.

John got better as the eve wore on, but there was not a single Lyle song I didn’t adore. Tragically, I have no idea what most them were that he played. I was able to look a few up on my phone by guessing at lyrics.

Lyle radiated this easy calmness. His songs were so much more inventive and varied, I couldn’t get over it!

The couple directly in front of me was having a wonderful date. She frequently put her arm around the back of his chair and stroked his hair. They leaned in together to whisper and laugh– they kissed a few times. Their shoulders were always touching. Several times, she leaned her head on his shoulder and relaxed. She swayed in her seat, seemingly an equal fan of both. I couldn’t see in the dark if they were married and wore rings– but they radiated the kind of love I imagine most couples would aspire towards. I wanted to ask them how long they’d been together. She had on a leather jacket and shoulder-length hair.

I hope one day I’m part of a couple so unable to hide their affection! It was sweet to behold.

Tonight was something special. Even from where i was sitting, I could see Lyle’s ears sticking out! He had a on suit.

They ended the show, and then re-emerged for an encore. I yelled my song request, along with others I heard.

Luckily, John Hiatt obliged! He did sing “Have a Little Faith,” but it was a  bit anti-climactic. I was just happy that I got to hear the song which motivated me to take a chance on tonight!

It felt so luxurious to be out on a Thursday night enjoying such a wonderful concert.

After that song, I left. It had started circa 7:40 and was nearly 10 and still going! I wanted to beat the crowd. In the lobby I stopped and bought one of Lyle’s CDS: “Release Me.” I played it in the car on the way home. I was a little bummed that more songs weren’t written by him, but all the songs are great regardless.

One thing is for sure! I’ll see Lyle again if I get a chance. And I’ll definitely be exploring his catalog.

What an incredible surprise. Thank you, Mr. Lovett.

A Sunset, A Wayward Journey North, and Grace

Just got home from visiting a family that has become my family, up in Evanston.

This husband and wife have the kind of marriage that I can only pray to enjoy myself someday– they are best friends, equals, and still smitten with each other after over 10 years together. I arrived around 10 p.m., and they were somehow shocked that I came anyway after work– but how could I not go? They have invited me into their hearts and their home consistently and always without qualms. No matter what I need, they are there.

It was her birthday, and most of the party was over by then. I was glad, because I enjoy more quiet, intimate parties better. We sat in lawn chairs in their new backyard in their brand new home and chatted, along with another couple they know. It was exactly what I needed.

I really felt the presence of God in my life today.

After work I was walking to my car, when I saw the most staggering sunset in the parking lot. There were distinct rays in a way I’d never before noticed. And I just felt the deepest calm– that one day, I will see everyone I love and ever loved again. That there are family and friends waiting for me in Heaven. That my loved ones who have passed on watch over me with care, guiding my choices and protecting me from grave harm. That my life has a plan, and God is in control– all I need to do just trust him and ask for insight to His will. That my best is exactly enough and even when I’m not enough– that’s okay, too.

And when I drove up to visit my family, I had scribbled directions. They had only moved a block away from their old home– and I had the route to that old home memorized. But I wasn’t sure exactly about this one, so I Googled directions. And that new route took me completely out of the way– really far. I had the direction written down, but I was curious how close I was getting, so I plugged in directions on my Google app– and it re-routed me again completely.

Then my phone’s battery died. And my car charger is broken.

I was alone, with no phone battery, past 9 p.m. in a strange area near Chicago– on the freeway.

I just pulled over, took a deep breath, and circled around back to where I had been familiar. I asked God for help.

Let me just clarify– I have NO SENSE of direction. None.

Part of me wanted to go home, but I’d already driven so far and honestly getting home would have been more difficult. I would have no idea how to to that. The only thing to do was keep going and trust myself. Trust Him.

I stopped at two gas stations.

And when I recognized the intersection a block away from their old home, I turned there, and recognized one of the streets on my original directions list. I just slowed down and — EUREKA! I found their street.

It was dark. I couldn’t see any of the house numbers. In fact, I had written the WRONG house number, because the only house with that number was dark.

I was stuck in this narrow cul-de-sac, and all the cars were parked facing the other direction. I had to drive backwards, but I decided, feck it! I’m going park here because it’s open– even if it’s the wrong way!

And I ventured across the street, drawn to this one house because it was bright inside and I saw a painting that I thought I recognized from their old home. My friend had painted it herself. Then in the kitchen I saw a dry erase board with their son’s name written on it.

And seconds later, my other friend– her husband– came outside from the backyard and saw me!

“You’re HERE!” he said, incredulous. He gave me a hug, and I went back and joined the party.

For 2.5 hours, I got to enjoy my friends, and then I made it home without incident . Even though they had been up since 6 a.m. and have two children– and had already endured a 10-hour party, they stayed up to talk with me. And they did it with joy.

THAT is family.

And all this happened despite my having terrible new directions, and my getting lost precisely at the moment my phone battery died and I didn’t have a car charger. I have no sense of direction, but I somehow found it on my own in remarkably short order– even though I had written down the wrong house number– and my friend magically appeared to confirm the correct house I had gravitated toward because I recognized a painting in their living room.

TELL me that’s not God.

What an incredible day.