“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” –Simone Weil
Thanksgiving morning began with the Turkey Trot 5k with my nieces and nephew Emily, Jenna and Mark in 0 degrees. It ended with sixteen family/friends, four dogs, two turkeys and new memories as the holiday season commences.
“Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.” – Michel de Montaigne
Many find this season difficult with loved ones who are gone and/or strained family relationships. It’s easy to retreat and hibernate. But if we keep moving and living as fully as we can, we honor those who are not with us by staying in the game. And when rooted by the love and companionship of friends and family, all things are possible, even forgiveness. Care for your roots and plant some new ones this season.
“Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers, and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.” – Therese of Lisieux
There’s so much more behind the engraved medal at the end of the marathon. Traveling as light as possible, I don’t carry my phone so I can’t capture the beautiful scenes on the journey. But each mile has pictures engraved in my memory.
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” – Matsuo Basho
At the start line, thousands of runners gather hopeful and excited, sprinkled with a bit of fear of what’s to come, but starting just the same. My first marathon with my brother John and both of our third marathons.
From start to finish, people gather along the streets clapping, jumping, cheering for strangers – scattering flowers. A mom stops to kiss her husband and kids who are beaming with pride in her feat. Dads and daughters running along side each other.
Mile 17, questions on my sanity sneak into my thoughts then shift quickly back to what I said to myself at mile one – how do you run a marathon? – one mile at a time, break it up. Mile 21, I can make it, take it all in, walk when you have to, keep going. Passing runners at the medical stations exhausted and injured reminds me that there are no guarantees. Anything can happen on marathon day. Everyone does not finish.
I don’t visualize the finish line as much as mile 24.5 where family and friends are gathered, standing for over five hours in 40 degrees cheering thousands of runners on and waiting patiently for me to finally show up. Scattering flowers.
Mile 23.5, my niece Emily runs up to greet me with a hug and smile and starts running me home. She ran her Dad to the finish and came back out for me. My left calf knots up and she stops to rub it out. Scattering flowers.
We approach 24.5 to my cheering crowd – hugs and hoots all around as if I’ve won the marathon. Emily continues on with me and Linda, who has an injured knee, joins us to run me to the finish. Just down the road, Jeanne is waving her arms, doing jumping jacks and joins my finishing pack. Scattering flowers.
The finish line. The medal. The journey that started four months ago and hundreds of miles is complete with the final 26.2. And each mile of the journey, I’ve never been alone. I’ve been gathering flowers.
“I have dreamed in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.” – Emily Bronte
On my way to a meeting yesterday by my house, I knew the shortest route to get there. When the road was backed up, I changed my route even though it was a bit longer. As I drove down the altered path, I realized its familiarity.
All summer long, I ran this path for my marathon training many early Saturday mornings. And this morning’s detour shifted my worry about Sunday’s marathon to excitement and calm. Doubts suddenly overcome with ease in knowing that I did the work and the results will unfold as they are meant to.
This journey is complete. And what remains is getting to the start line, joining thousands of runners who share similar stories of set backs, personal records, injuries and fatigue from four months of training in the middle of life that’s filled with too many commitments, deadlines and distractions. And yet, they showed up, despite those voices of dissent.
The detours, wins, ties and losses are all part of our life, our path transforming us into who we already are. All of the altered paths lead us to what’s next and what’s right for us. Put down the map and take in the scenery. It’s a beautiful path, especially the detours.
“The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” – Eden Phillpotts
Life is woven with moments of hurrying and waiting. Noise and quiet. Running and walking. And everything in between as we straddle the fence to get our equilibrium, and even dare to find some magic in it all.
In running, the taper is the three weeks just before the marathon which calls for reduced mileage, slowing down and rest to prepare for the final “test.” Completely counter intuitive. Four months of doing, three weeks of just being. Letting the work be complete and allowing rest to take its place.
In the waiting, the mind easily wanders if we allow. What if I didn’t train enough? What if I’m too old for this? What if … To overcome the “what ifs,” we need to train our thoughts and let patience enter the silence. Trusting the work and leaving the results be what they may based on the effort and a lot of grace.
And with all of the waiting we do in life – for medical test results, to get married, to have kids, to accept being single, to be forgiven, to forgive, to realize deep gratitude and abundance – the only thing that makes any sense amidst the slow tick of waiting time is faith. Not in our wandering thoughts, but in the purpose that will show itself in the distance.
Nothing is lost. Even when things don’t fit anymore, the pieces tie together into our complete and whole journey. The detours, the potholes, the smooth road lead us to where we are meant to go with the people we are meant to be with. We are not alone. And when we don’t quite know where we are going or we get stuck pondering what was or what’s next, we need to wait a bit longer for it all to unfold before us. For our wits to grow sharper.
“Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” – Thomas Carlyle
As I was getting ready for my 20 mile run yesterday morning, I kept telling myself – time and distance, time and distance. It’s not about speed, but about running long enough to get the mileage in. I was apprehensive about my ankle and missing two long training runs over the past two weeks.
After the first 5 miles, I settled in, let go, listened to music and just ran. Nothing existing before or after, steeped in the flow of the movement, in the moment. When I hit 16 miles, I could feel the wear on my body but knew I would complete it. The last 4 miles were run by my heart.
After a long hot shower, gratefulness and contentment set in, something I was short on the past two weeks. My ankle demanded rest, my head argued that I would lose three months of training capacity if I took a break for however long it for my ankle to heal. Luckily with the encouragement of friends and family, the work of my chiropractor and massage therapist/friend and rest, I finished.
Sometimes we need to rest. Sometimes we need to push through. Most times we need to do both. It’s the ebb and flow of life. And most of all, when we tire when we are so close to finishing, we need to let our mind rest and run with our heart that tells us we can do it, we have it in us, keep going.
Anything we pursue in life requires our whole person to be on the same team – our body, mind, heart and spirit. Our heart and spirit are fueled by faith. And often times our body and mind stray, leaving the heart and spirit to finish the job. And when we put the time in, we will go the distance.
“Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.” – Max Frisch
“Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures.” – Joseph Addison
This week, I have been arm-wrestling with patience. I strained my ankle last week and I’ m off on my training schedule. Not too far, but off plan just the same. Pretty minor in the overall scheme of things, but after three months of training, I’m frustrated with a side of self-pity and crabby.
It’s easy to be positive when the world is going our way. The real test is in pain and disappointment. And if we take our eyes off of ourselves long enough, we can receive the gifts that trials offer including a deeper level of empathy for others.
We’ll see how long it will take my pep talks to transform my attitude, but I’m going to keep trying until it clicks. And it’s really about how we go through our trials that show our real character.
Patience is called for once again. If it could only move a bit quicker and on my schedule. Still working on it, obviously.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
I asked Jeanne to teach me how to do speed work so I could mix up my running routine, making it a little less routine. It’s easy to get into a rut even in good habits. Tonight, she taught me and made it fun. There are many more lessons I’ve learned from her through the years. She’s magnetic and draws people to her with who she is to the core.
Jeanne will often say she’s a follower not a leader. It could not be farther from the truth. Authentic leadership is unselfish, shining the spotlight on others. Authentic leadership shares knowledge with actions more than words, with genuine enthusiasm more than pontificating. Authentic leadership is ego-free and generous in spirit, actually making us believe that we know more than we do, building our confidence to keep trying.
So when I look for models of leadership, I am certainly not looking at those in politics, entertainment or most businesses. Real leadership is modeled by those in our daily lives who quietly, unassumingly and authentically live it out each day, reaching outward rather than calling attention to self. Natural and real, building others rather than themselves.
Outstanding lesson in not only speed work, but authentic leadership in so many areas of life – thanks Jeanne, your grateful student.
“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” – Wilma Rudolph
Another Grandma’s marathon, another first marathon to celebrate. This time it was my niece Emily’s turn and she did it! The first marathon is about finishing. It’s the “I think I can and I’m ready but I’ve never done it before” elusiveness.
Four to five months of training, commitment and hard work gets you to the start line. You learn the value of preparing your mind as much as your body as well as your spirit. All play an important role in getting to the finish line.
Many training runs by yourself convince you that you are alone in this effort. But when you get to marathon day, you soon realize through the support and encouragement of family, friends and complete strangers along the way that you are in no way alone in the endeavor, or in life for that matter. The cowbells, people yelling your name, the texts from family and friends checking in, the running by your side the last mile show how many people are cheering for and sharing in your success.
“The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one’s opportunities and make the most of one’s resources.” – Luc de Clapiers
Whether it’s a marathon or another dream or goal, the meaning comes from the journey before ever getting to the start line. It’s the unfolding and freeing of the human spirit that deepens the meaning and calls us to seek more challenges and dreams. There are no short cuts – the secret is in the intersection of time, effort, focus, consistency, faith, optimism, persistence and determination.
Pick your “marathon” and go for it with your whole heart, mind and spirit. We all have longings that pull at us to go out into the world to give and be our best, beyond what we could ever imagine. We need only to take the first step and each that follows become second nature. Your human spirit is ready and waiting to take flight.
“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” – Golda Meir
We are three weeks out from Grandma’s Marathon, hence the 20 mile run. Last year, my brother ran his first marathon. This year, my niece Emily is running her first marathon. I am training for my third marathon in October, inspired by many who have gone before and encouraged by friends and family. Each of us can and are called to inspire, encourage and be encouraged by others.
Yesterday, I ran 13 miles of Emily’s 20 mile run, mostly behind her of course. It was in the low 80s most of the run. It was a hot one. John and Tina followed along on the bike with water, Gatorade and a cow bell. I remember my first marathon and am so excited for Emily to experience the fruition that comes from the seeds she’s planted, the work she’s done to get here.
“Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles.” – Alex Karras
While it’s an important part of the training plan, the 20 miler is more important mentally than physically. It give us the confidence and reminds us that all the work over the past three months will pay off and we have it in us to finish 26.2 miles. We’ve done the work, now enjoy the ride.
We often need to overcome our own definitions, limitations and perceptions of what’s possible, to believe in what we are made of and to act on it. Whether it’s a marathon or another dream that’s written on your heart, pursue it vigorously, put in the work and know that you have it in you to finish the race.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin
We celebrated Lily’s fourth birthday this morning with a run with friends. The party hats didn’t make it too long on the dogs, but the rest of us wore our hats for the entire run. We got a few strange looks but when we explained we were celebrating a dog’s birthday, it made all the sense in the world.
“Enthusiasm moves the world.” – Arthur Balfour
Friends wear silly hats, sing “Happy Birthday” in the parking lot and know how to make fun of a run together. In a hectic and often unkind world, we can create our own celebrations and moments every day. We have so much more than we often recognize. Today, I am grateful for Lily and Molly and good friends that make life fun, silly and deeply meaningful all at once.