Archive | September, 2013

the what if game

27 Sep

I am a horrible control freak.  As I get older, I become more and more aware of when I am “doing it.”   For example, today I walked into a fourth grade room where there was a sub and I took over.  I felt bad, but the kids were doing whatever they wanted.  Their teacher would kill them if she knew.  I couldn’t take it.  I stopped them and got it back in check, and we had a good end of class. 


In any event, I like to be in control of things.  I am not good at foregoing control, I am not good at being “not good” at things, and I am not good at not knowing.  I know these things about myself, and I try to work on them.  I think I’ve become SUPER flexible in the past couple of years–I don’t like confrontation anyway, so I can roll with it.  BUT just because I’m going with the flow doesn’t mean I like it.  It doesn’t mean that I am not always thinking about how much I dislike going with it without knowing what “it” is until the last minute…


On top of that, I have a pretty lively imagination. I attribute that to years of reading.  As a kid, my nose was always buried in a book.  I would walk around the house, reading while I walked.  I wish I were kidding.  I am a HUGE nerd.  When I wanted to know something, I’d read about it.  I remember reading my mom’s medical books back in the day–I would’ve been a teenager.  I was fascinated.  I kept a notebook of words I didn’t know and looked up in the dictionary on my own.  Did I mention I’m a nerd?


So being out of control COUPLED WITH not knowing (and not really being able to know) kills me.  And then I play what if games.   And it’s not good.  What if never goes well.  Because there are infinite permutations of the possibilities, and so rather than assuage my fears of what MIGHT happen, it just creates more anxiety over all of the possibilities. 


When I catch myself playing “what if,” I try to stop.  But sometimes I can’t.  And it’s no good. 


I keep finding myself trying to plan out my life.  You can’t plan your life out.  Life just happens.  I need to stop trying to make things fit into my plans and learn to just roll with it.  I need to stop worrying.  I need to stop caring about things I can’t control.  And to just be OK with the way things happen on their own…


It would be so cool to have one day where I just let go of it all.  Let someone else be in charge of everything.  Plan my life out.  And for me to be ok with that, and to trust that it was going to be ok.  That even though I didn’t know what was going to happen, that everything would be fine.  It always is.  You’d think I’d learn that when I don’t “know,” it always works out anyway.  But my brain can’t stop.  *sigh*

lessons from aid station volunteering

23 Sep

This weekend, we headed down with a group from #TrailsRoc to volunteer at an aid station for the Virgil Crest Ultramarathon.  I was pumped to camp and spend the whole weekend outside–I’ve been itching for another camp trip since our annual July ADK trip!


Friday after work, we packed up and headed down to Virgil, NY, which is just outside of Ithaca/Cortland.  We rolled into the campground as it was starting to get dark.  The campground we stayed at was more like a RV park–lame.  There were NO trees and we were on a hill, which is no good when the forecast calls for HUGE rainstorms.  Alas, we set up shop, built up a fire and had a few beers before calling it an early night.


Our alarms were set for 4:30 AM.  We got up, got in cars and headed to the start line to pick up aid station drop bags and see all the awesome people who were running 50 or 100 miles that day!  After the start, we went right to our station–4.4 miles from the start line, the Gravel Pit station.  After a rather interesting (read: terrifying for my overly-anxious-especially-as-I-get-older self) drive on a pot-holey dirt road, we hit the station.  Elyse was fabulous directing us how to set things up–I made PBJ sandwiches til my fingers bled (j/k) and helped set up the food tables. 


It was cold, but not raining.  We monitored all day for when the rain would hit–thankfully, it didn’t come until about 4.   When it rained, it POURED.  For the rest of the night.  When our relief came at 9, I was sad to leave (because the station had become my home and the runners were my babies and I felt responsible for their well-being), but so thankful as I’d been standing in a puddle ankle-deep filling water bottles and gubrew bottles and encouraging runners to keep going when so many were struggling in the horrible weather conditions.


you can’t tell here, but my fingers were bleeding hahaha

A few things I learned/decided while out there.

1.  I focus way too much on how my body looks rather than on what it can do.  I’ve known this for a long time–I have very deep-seated body image issues and work very hard to maintain a reasonable outlook on nutrition, exercise and my appearance.  As all of these amazing people were rolling in to our aid station, I was struck by how so many of the women were not the frail-looking, waif-like Grete Waitz types that I stared at and stressing out over (I did not look like her and knew I never would–just not my body type, even if I starved myself) my first time inside Fleet Feet when I first started running.  They looked healthy.  They came in and ate a PBJ sandwich and M and Ms and chips (when I first started running, I’d run on empty to “lose more weight”…uh yeah…not smart).  They were covered in mud, their hair was a mess, they were sweaty and nasty, but smiling and BEAUTIFUL.  Skinny is not healthy.  Again, this is something I’ve known for a long time, but something that I struggle with, and will probably struggle with for the rest of my life.  This was a positive reaffirmation of what I know and need to focus on. 

2.  I would NEVER run an ultra alone at night.  I had to pee last night, I took my lantern, went about 20 yards from the aid station, turned off the light to pee and almost had a heart attack.  I finished and sprinted back up the hill to the people and light.  I said afterward that I would want to have Eric with me, then changed my mind.  I would need a posse.  If zombies come attack, I need more than 1 person to fight ’em off.  Last night, right before we left, a girl from a relay team set out on her own for the 5.3 mile trek to the next aid station.  I saw her this morning and asked how it went.  She said not bad once she stopped being scared.  I give her mad props.  I’d have been terrified for the entire run…

3.  Volunteering is inspirational.  Any time I go to any athletic event, I get pumped.  I want to run more, get stronger, participate.  I haven’t raced since May.  I’m starting to miss it.  But I’ve been to countless events, and every time, I leave with a renewed desire to set goals and train hard.  If ever you need a motivational boost, hit up a race. 

4.  So with that said, I am ready to make an official commitment to running an ultra.  I won’t commit to a time frame.  Our primary goal right now is a healthy pregnancy.  Running major mileage, even slow mileage, is not a good plan, since I’m not currently doing it (I will, however, run through my pregnancy as long as it is safe to do so).  That being said, Clomid is done in cycles, and after about 6 tries, you have to take a break to let your body recover before you can go again.  My hope is that we will need 1 time, not 2, 3, 4 or 6.  But it is helpful to think to myself that IF things don’t go well, instead of moping and waiting for a chance to get back on the crazy drugs, I will train for and complete an ultra.  Our struggles with infertility have left me in some very dark places that I don’t want to go to ever again.  Having a “b goal” (if you will) makes me feel a little more in control of the uncontrollable situation that we currently find ourselves in.  And if we get pregnant, then after the baby, I will train for and run an ultra. 


AND I want Eric to run it with me.  This summer, we celebrate our 5 year anniversary.  I would like to run an ultra together to celebrate!  This time, it’s my turn to sign him up for some crazy running event that will test our endurance and patience and persistence!  🙂 


Why run an ultra?  I don’t know.  Ever since I heard about ultras, the concept has fascinated me.  It used to be something fascinating in an unattainable way–kind of like those cliff jumpers in the flying squirrel jumpsuits.  But after Buffalo, I kept thinking about how distance running is all just a big mental game.  If I say I’m going to run 10 miles, the last 2 are tough.  If I say I’m going to run 20, the last 5 are tough.  If I say I’m going to run 26.2, the last 6.2 kind of suck.  But I get there.  And that makes me wonder how much further I could go.  When would it start to suck?  When would I get a second, third, fourth wind? 


Also, you get to eat M and Ms and drink Coke every 5ish miles. 


So this is my formal announcement that I WILL run an ultra.  It’s just a matter of when and where, but I want to do it.  And I will do it.  The end. 🙂

new goal = no goal

15 Sep

I had planned to run a super fast 5k PR this fall.  Over the summer, I took some time, made a plan, and even did a couple weeks worth of speed work and attempted some long runs again.  I had a plan for strength training, too. 


But the more I followed my plan, the less satisfied I was.  Running was lame.  I didn’t want to do it.  Every run was a chore, something I had to do based on my plan.  I wasn’t running because I wanted to run.  I was running because I was supposed to run.  This was a feeling that had followed me through the end of marathon training.  I think it was part of why the last 6 miles of the marathon, I ran/walked–I could’ve RUN a much faster time.  But I most certainly would not have enjoyed it as much as I did.  I had anticipated being ready this fall to get back into a training cyle, to work on a plan.  But my mind and body are telling me no, not right now.


So I’m giving up the plan.  I’m letting go of the “shoulds” and “should nots.”  I run Tuesdays with our Trail Trots group, Thursdays with MedVed, and one weekend day for as long as I want…sometimes I do an extra run during the week.  Every morning I get up and work out (not going to work til later is pretty cool because it means I can do some strength training pre-work).  There is no set schedule, though.  And running is slowly becoming fun again. 


When I’m 50, 60, and 70 years old, I still want to be running.  So I am learning to listen to my body–when it hurts, I stop; when it’s not fun, I stop; when it’s frustrating, I stop.  I like to think that these week, 2-week, and month-long breaks give my mind and body the rest they need to come back stronger and more ready for the next challenge.  And right now, that next challenge has nothing to do with running anyway (I hope)…


So much about running is a metaphor for the rest of life.  When you HAVE to do something, it usually sucks.  When you do something because you want to, suddenly it’s fun.  So I am running for fun right now, not for a PR or a marathon or a specific race.  Saturday, I had a lovely run through Dryer Road Park.  I wish every run could be like that.  More and more, I find such amazing peacefulness on the trails, out for easy runs, just hanging out with friends, or sometimes by myself.  So the new goal is to have no goal, and to be content in that.  For a type-A personality like mine, that can be kind of difficult to sustain.  But I am ready for the challenge and to reap the benefits of a more relaxed outlook. 🙂

hugs and heartbreak

13 Sep

I’ve been teaching for 8 years.  I forget sometimes how long it’s been, but today, talking to my grandma, I realized.  In 8 years of teaching, this is the first year where I am not starting the year as a classroom teacher.  I am now a support teacher, and it’s completely different from what I have become accustomed to.  This first week has been, on more than one occasion, frustrating.  Having to make a schedule, then change it, then fix it again…waiting to find out what room I’m in…not being able to make copies or print any materials…I was ready on day one to work.  I was ready to be with students, helping–ready to roll up my shirt sleeves and get to it.


So I am thankful that at the end of the first full week of school, I have now met all of my kids.  I am in my classrooms for almost an entire week now, pushing into classrooms and supporting and pulling small groups out to work with them.


The past 2 days, I have finally been able to work with my kids at my second school.  And what I am struck by is how loving they are.  Today, I was walking up to the school and the 5th grade class i JUST finally met yesterday for about 20 minutes was walking by the door.  Two kids came running to open the door for me, all smiles and hellos, and my caseload student came and gave me a giant hug.  As I walked down the hallway to get my key, another student (on his way back from the bathroom) literally ran into my arms.  His sister hugged me later today, when I got to her room.  I have had students who are not even on my case load coming to me, hugging me, holding my hand, sitting next to me, trying to touch my hair.


And all I can think about is how these kids are so starved for affection and attention that they are literally throwing themselves at me.  It makes me so sad sometimes.  I want a child so bad–little bodies to nurture, to raise, to hug, hold, snuggle tight and let them know that they are my whole world.  And every day, I work with babies who don’t have that.  Don’t get me wrong–some do, and some kids are, I’m sure, just very affectionate and would hug me no matter what.  But so many kids are out there with no one to parent them or more importantly to love them.  And it breaks my heart.

sibling <3

3 Sep

To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time. – Clara Ortega












Best night ever = sibling sleepover–all of us were there. so cool.

Let me just start by saying that I cannot imagine my life without my siblings.  As the oldest of 10, I frequently get asked what it was like to grow up with so many kids and whether or not I liked it.  Like is not the right word for it.  Love is more like it.  That’s not to say there weren’t times, especially in those teenage angst-y years when I wished for my own space, my own time.  But I truly can’t imagine a life with fewer siblings.  What if my parents had stopped at __ (insert a number here)?  Then ____ wouldn’t have happened (insert poignant family memory here).

I  remember most of my mom’s pregnancies, most of their births.  I remember hearing them calling Oma to come watch us, staying up whispering with Val until the phone rang and we found out if we had a new brother or sister (and a bug sucked Val’s brain out).  I remember going to the hospital, seeing them, holding them, being so sad that I couldn’t hold Leanne (who was very sick and in NICU for a few days).  I remember rocking them to sleep some nights, stroking their downy little heads, amazed by the fact that such a small body was going to grow into a person.   I remember changing diapers, babysitting and having to clean puke (you’re welcome, Kyle), waking them from nightmares, reading stories, playing games, building forts, swimming, hiking with Opa and picking the most delicious wild raspberries.  I remember housing them when they were in trouble, trying to get them out of trouble, knowing they were trying to get me out of trouble, laughing because we knew we were in trouble no matter what anyone did, so we may as well have fun.  I remember them as babies, as little kids, and for the older ones, them as teenagers and beyond.

Most of the time, I see them at the ages they were when I left for college–it’s like they’re frozen in time in my head.  Sometimes it’s weird to see them in person and realize how much they’ve changed, how much we’ve all aged.  They’re not babies anymore in the traditional sense of the word, even though to me, they will always be babies–my babies.  We have seen each other through a lot of stuff, both good and bad.  They are my whole life.  My whole world.  When Eric calls them his brothers and sisters, I melt.  Absolutely melt.  Today he said something about Josh being a little brother, and I could’ve cried I was so happy.

When we first started dating, I remember having so many conversations with him after trips to my family’s house.  “You guys don’t have enough room on the couches for everyone to sit there’s so many people,” he’d incredulously say.  “Hmmm I never really thought about it.  Ya just sit on the floor,” I’d reply.  “It’s so loud!” he’d comment (hahaha funny coming from Eric).  “Oh really?  This is probably why I always have the TV or radio on–too quiet if it’s just us sitting around,” I’d say.  We’d leave his house and I’d have a million and one questions.  “So you guys couldn’t just go out back and play a soccer game or whatever? You had to get neighbor kids, huh?”  I’d ask.  “It must’ve been very quiet at your house growing up?” I’d inquire.  I couldn’t (and still can’t really) fathom just one sibling.   When we talk about having a family now, Eric talks about 1 or 2–I think about 4 or 5.  I have the fondest memories of being raised in a big family.  I want my children to look back with the same memories that I have.  I love big families (well the ones who are “doing it right” anyway).

They say that when you have a baby, your life changes.  That you will do anything to protect that little being.  That there is no greater love.

I don’t know how that can be true.  That there is no greater love.  Because I truly cannot imagine any greater love than the love I have for my siblings.  I would move heaven and earth for them.  They are my babies.  I want to take care of them.  To talk to them, to teach them things, show them things.  To be there as they experience things.  To hold them when their hearts are broken and they need a shoulder to cry on.  To relive the funny things that we’ve done together and to laugh and play jokes and mess around with each other.

I suppose mother-child love is different than sibling love.  Sometimes I get really sad/scared that I may never know the mother-child love.  Which makes me so thankful that I have so many little siblings to love.  I like to think that my special relationship with each of them is a hybrid–somewhere between mother-child and sibling, given our age difference (at least with the younger ones).  When I am with them, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have such a beautiful family.  ❤ my siblings muchisimo.