Love Bucket

Flowers!!!  So, my husband brought daffodils to my classroom the other day.  He had cut them fresh from our front yard and wanted to brighten my day.  Needless to say, it worked.

Many different analogies cover relationships and how we balance ourselves, how we judge our contentment and happiness.  I choose to go with the love bucket.  Perhaps you saw that I referred to it in another post – Slushie to the Face.  Anyway, it is very obvious.  When you are treated with kindness and thoughtfulness, when your needs are placed in front of others – your bucket gets a scoop of lovin’.   If your love bucket runs empty then you have no way of filling anyone else’s.  And that really is the goal, isn’t it?  To fill others with love?

I try very hard to fill the love buckets of those in my life.  On this day, though – my husband really nailed it.  I had commented on how pretty they looked in the front yard and even said the words…whose day could I make brighter tomorrow by bringing them some fresh, bright yellow flowers? I promise this was in no way a passive aggressive hint to my husband that I would like for him to bring them to me.  That’s just not how I work; or how he does.  In fact, until this day I would have told you that I had a much better chance of having flowers in my classroom if I  just cut them for myself rather than wait for him to do it.

Let me explain – that is not a slam against him – it’s just now how he thinks, generally. I mean, if he cuts them, then they will die sooner.  If he cuts them and removes them from the house, then we cannot enjoy them at home…where we spend most of our time together.  I get it. They are planted there – they should stay there.  Now, that’s how he thinks.  That all just adds to the gesture.

Wow.  Nice one, honey.  To be surprised after all these years.  Not just by the flowers, but by the change in perspective.  My bucket runneth over.  Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to make me feel loved.  These daffodils are way better than any store bought flowers because we grew them together – gross, right?  The grosser the sentiment, the fuller the bucket – that’s just how the love bucket works.  Have you handed out your scoop of lovin’ today?

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Getting back in the game.

So, after a lifetime of an on again, off again relationship with running – I finally ran my first marathon 2 months ago at 46.  It was my third attempt at training and my first time at the starting line.  Read about it here.

I did all the research about recovery – what I should eat, what kind of time to take off.  The moment I crossed the finish line I knew I wanted to run another.  Fast forward 2 months – I have really struggled with getting back out there.  I knew this was possible.  It, too, was in the research.  I mean, I have been running, but not with the passion and fervor that kept me training through the cold and rain.  And the 3 miles feel like 10.   Also, I hurt my whole right leg – bruised every part of my knee-joint and connective tissue when I landed hard, sadly, from a marine corps obstacle course rope swing (whew – that was a mouthful).  This does not help the motivation to run.

Honestly, my schedule during track season makes it very difficult to run.  Our meets keep me out until 10 or 10:30 pm.  On nights that we do not have meets I get home around 5:30 – generally physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted.  The other night, after a track meet, I crawled into bed around 11:30 and I hurt more from toe to hip than I ever did before, during, or after my marathon training.  I had a restless night and awoke feeling the same way – simply aching.  Standing at the finish line for 5 and a half hours on that track – after a day of standing on concrete floors – I guess is just too much for this 46-year-old lady.

Friday morning I emailed the male track coach who has great experience that I like to tap into now and again.  I asked him “what am I doing wrong to feel so awful?”  He suggested that I still needed to recover from my marathon.  Say what?  I struggled with this idea. Big time.

So, I jogged a few laps on Friday before the kids all hit the track. Then, I stretched well and promptly walked over to the trainer to get that knee iced down.  The knee has been feeling better – and I have been under her care since the injury.  Her suggestion has been to use it – keep running and keep checking in with her.  No problem.

 

I ran a 5k with some friends on Saturday – I felt pretty strong, surprisingly.  This morning, Sunday, I also ran with some confidence.  I ran and easy, easy 4.5 and stretched and iced everything.  I have been also been drinking a lot of water this weekend.  I think I am going with that I was severely dehydrated on Thursday.

I need to get a race on the board.  A half, I think.  And a few 5ks through the spring.

What’s the point of this post?  I am running – and I am not going to let my busy schedule, painful  15 hour days, or anything else keep me from running.  Now if I can just believe that because, evidently, getting back in the game is hard after a marathon.

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My First Marathon – one proud mamathoner

My daughter and I shared our first marathon together on January 16, 2016 at the Charleston Marathon.  She lives 5 states away and we were unable to train together, but we ran this race together, stride for stride.

As an added bonus we stayed with my bff, Kelly,  and her boy, Anthony.  (sign and photos courtesy of Miss Kelly)

Training: I had been training specifically for this race for about 18 weeks.  Flu over Christmas – ugh.  Two fellow runners think this flu actually saved me and is why I felt so great during the actual marathon – forced rest and pull back from the mileage.  That it was, indeed.  Bill, my husband, continues to tell me how much he hated the training schedule that I followed.  He plowed through it with me, though.  My biggest supporter – no question. He ran with me during every single run and pushed me when I wanted to slack.  Even though he could not run the distances on the long run days, he was out there running every step he could as he cheered me on.

Alexis, also affectionately referred to as YaYa, returned home for Thanksgiving and we were able to run 16 together. That day I thought to myself how apparent our ages have become.  We stayed together most of the day, but she took off at the end and crushed the last 2 miles.  (deep sigh)

After that day I ran 17 and another 16 with lots of lower mile days in there.  But over Christmas Break, when we planned on running 20 together, I came down with the flu and it kicked my butt.  I was in bed for the whole of our Christmas break and did not run a step for 2 and half weeks – which felt like an eternity.  Even when I did run after that – I wanted to just stop.  3 miles felt like 15.  Mentally, I felt defeated before I ever started the race.

Race day:  Alexis and  I decided we were going to run the first five miles at an eleven minute pace – nice and easy.  Then the next five at 10:45….then the next five at 10:30 or under. We wanted to keep dropping by 15 seconds until we hit the wall and just couldn’t anymore. Then, YaYa slammed into the wall – knees first – at mile 15.  Actually, just before mile 15.  Around 13 I was struggling a little bit and wanted to slow down (we were actually running at, like 10:15).  My belly was cramping.  She talked me through it as best as she could when I told her I needed her to encourage me.  She was great.  We rounded the corner from the marina, just after crossing over an overpass and hearing the speaker shout out our current time.  I dashed to the porta pottie to no avail as YaYa stretched in the street.   The runners had really thinned out at this point.

We got back to it and shortly after that, she just could not overcome.  She kept expecting to move beyond whatever was hurting her and push through and it just never happened. She told me on a few occasions that if I left her, she would quit – as a way to say thank you for the support.  Around mile 23 she told me that finishing this race was, by far, the hardest thing she has ever had to do.  Really?  Now, like on that 16 mile run over Thanksgiving Break – our ages became very apparent once again.

I was conflicted, I am embarrassed to say.  I wanted to stay with her so badly.  I wanted to support her and be a team.  But I was frustrated that I had trained so hard, for what seemed so long – only to fall short of my goals.  I thought to myself about the 2 other times in my life I trained for a marathon.   The first time, I just gave up mid training – excuses are there, but I can’t remember them now.  Then the next time I had my appendix out mid training and I just could not mentally overcome that.  As I write this now, I do also remember being alone for both failures.  Perhaps that drove my ultimate decision.

Keep in mind – we have run shorter races together before, and when someone gets a groove on, well, she takes off!  This is a perfectly acceptable practice.

I had staggered, graded goals (What can I say, I am a teacher).  Alexis actually gave me the idea.  She learned it from a marathon course she had taken as an undergrad at Clemson University.  A – under 4:30, B – under 5, C – finish.  There really was not option D or F – Finish I must.

I felt really good from the first step that day and thought, briefly, I might hit the A goal. YaYa had to hold me back early on so I would not burn out – which is why we started at 11 minute miles.  As we continued on with the 5 hour pacer guy, I realized that under 5 was still solid and perfectly respectable.  As we went on I realized how challenging even this was going to be with my now aching daughter.  At 24 miles, honestly, when the 5:30 pacer passed us – a little part of me really felt sad (I don’t want to say died, that’s a little too dramatic).  But my frustration peeked.  I was so torn…be a good mom, be a team player or own your training, compete, run! – oh my competitive side yelled at me the whole way.  Well, now I have this stored energy, we are nearing the end, and I want to run.  I mean, there are only 2 miles left – surely you can make that on your own after what we have been through.  As we slowed for her knees, I began to cramp in my hips and thighs because I needed a full stride, desperately.

So, question of the hour, should I let her fail here?  She is 24 years old.  She admitted to not training like she should have.  But she ran 16 twice with no issues of any kind.  Something hurt this time.  What if it was just a wall, or just a fluke? So what. We were going to do it together.   How would I have reacted or finished if the roles were reversed and she took off and left me because I was struggling.  It may have made it harder on me, but I guarantee I would have finished.   She would have, too. I cried at 23 ish because I was so overwhelmed with emotion.  I think it was mostly from feeling like my daughter actually needed me for the first time in what seemed like a decade.  How could I turn my back on her no matter how much my ego cried out for an A?  What kind of person would that have made me? What kind of mother?  She doesn’t need to learn a lesson here – I do.

I am allowed to have feelings. AND it is what I do with those that make me who I am, right?  Well, my enthusiasm and joy could not be diminished by my competitive ego and I continued DSC_0823 (2)to bounce and smile and sing (seemingly obnoxiously) until the very last step over the finish line with my daughter at my side.  I will forever remember the high fives at every mile, even the 26th, and her tears the entire last mile.  Time: 5 hours and 35 minutes.

One proud mamathoner.

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