Friday, October 29, 2010

Runner's High

It was perfect. The air was crisp, the sun was shining, the Teeny-dog was by my side, and for the first time in a long time, I felt like I could run for days. Oh now I remember... this is why I run. This is what I have been missing. This is what it's supposed to feel like.

About six months into my pregnancy I decided to quit my love affair with the sport of running. I was on a jog one day and tripped and fell (in the middle of an intersection no less) and just barely caught myself from taking the brunt of the fall on my growing belly. With my balance out of whack, I hung up the running shoes and resigned myself to waiting until after our son came along to get back at it again. And then he was born, and well, those shoes stayed in the closet. Sure, I tried a couple of times and even blogged about my frustrations, but I was caught in a vicious cycle. I used to love to run because I was good at it. I used to be good at it because I ran a lot. I ran a lot because I loved it. When it came time for me to start back up again, even my three-milers, which used to be an easy-peasy workout, were tough. I was back to square one and did not like that I had to walk during these outings, and therefore I just decided not to go. Even though I had promised myself that I would stick with it, it was easier just to give up on it all together. I even tried to motivate myself with a new pair of shoes and a Garmin (for my husband... which coincidentally would be something I would use, too!) but I still had zero motivation. It wasn't until I was with my sisters earlier this month (goodness, I still need to blog about that trip!) that I made it a full three miles without stopping. It was a fluke, I thought. I had running buddies, so it was no wonder that my brain couldn't talk me into quitting like it normally did.

So this morning, out of nowhere, I decided to give it a whirl. The thermometer said 38 degrees, which sounded oddly appealing to me. 38 degrees meant that I could wear running tights and my favorite Nike dry-fit turtleneck. After Josh requested that I bring my cell phone, I dug through my closet and pulled out my pink fuel belt and secured it around my waist, tucking my cell phone securely in the zip pocket. I even filled up one of the water bottles just in case. And instead of just walking to the end of the driveway and heading off toward the park, I hopped in the car and drove to a running trail that I've always seen, but never actually took the time to go check out. With my favorite running gear on I felt the part again. This is the stuff that I used to get oddly excited about. This is the stuff that made me feel more like a seasoned runner when I needed a little motivation. These are the silly things that get me amped up about a race, or just the sport in general.

Teeny and I hopped out of the car and off we went. I decided to take her because she has so much energy in the cooler weather and if anything, she was pulling me at first. From the very first step it was as if my body suddenly remembered what to do again. My feet were moving mechanically, one in front of the other, and my brain could wander aimlessly or focus on the song that was playing. I thought about how lucky I am to have a body that can do this and how important it is to stay healthy for my son. I thought about how wonderful my husband is for getting up early most mornings so that I can get that extra hour of sleep. I praised God for the glorious weather and the clean air that filled my lungs. And I kept going even when my stopwatch said that I had gone as far as I had been planning on going. By the end, Teeny was lagging a bit behind and I couldn't help but smile.

These are the reasons that I run... I do it because even though I forgot for awhile, I do love it. Today I ran for me. I wasn't training for anything or thinking about getting baby weight off. I knew from the start that it was okay if I needed to stop and take a breather. It was simply 37 minutes of pure me-time... me left with my own thoughts and not having to worry about a baby getting into something or a husband needing someone to listen and bounce ideas off of. Yes, I love those things about this life I live, but I had forgotten how nice it is to just have solitude- just me and my naughty dog, and the open road ahead of me. It was the most perfect start to my day.

I look back on all of the years I spent training and the runs that stick out for me are those that were purely for me. I definitely enjoyed all of the long runs with my sister when we were training for something or another, but the ones that always come back to me are days like today. Days when I'm all by myself and I see a double rainbow, and I feel like God put it there for only me to enjoy. Days when I cover six or eight miles on auto-pilot and by the end, I can hardly even remember what got me through it, but marveled at how my body just robotically gets me there. Days when the sun is setting over a cow pasture (back when we had cow pastures near my old house) and time just seems to stand still. Days when my brain produced such poetic thoughts that I wished they were recorded so that I could go back and read them afterwards. In fact, this post was basically writing itself this morning as I cruised down the trail. All of these are me-moments, and they remind me that I love to run for these moments.

I can't guarantee that I will be back out there tomorrow or signing up for a race anytime soon, but I do know that I finally feel like a little part of me is coming back. A part of me that I missed, but wasn't sure how to reclaim. Today as I climbed back in my car, I might as well have had a medal around my neck. In comparison to past races that I've finished, my time and distance were minimal, but I had that same sense of accomplishment that comes when crossing a finish line. Somewhere along the way I forgot that I do this because I love it, and I never want to go back to doing it for any other reason. Especially now with a husband and a baby at home, I need to remember that it's okay to do it for me.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


It seems like just yesterday that this guy was Jake's size. I can still remember driving up to Kentucky about a week after he was born and once again being overcome with emotion on how much you can love someone you just met. Even though his brother had come along two years earlier, I was still scared to death to hold someone so tiny, but after a few visits I started to come along. He changed me from a person who wanted to spend as much time with my friends as possible into a gal who gave up a lot of her precious weekends to go be with family. And I wouldn't change that for the world.

At eight years old, this one is still a firecracker. Half the time we're not even sure if we should laugh or punish him, but it's usually a combination of both for whatever stunt that he's pulled. I can honestly say that on more than one occassion I have had to leave the room or turn away while my sister scolded him for doing something. With my son having the personality that he has already, I'm sure it won't be long before Angie gets to be on the other side of that.

I have the three best nephews in the world and I love the older ones even more now that the new babies have come along. Seeing them tell their friends that they can't come out and play because they're playing with their cousins just does wonders to my heart. When I was visiting their family earlier this month I made Kevin and Kyle promise me that they would never become "too cool" for their Aunt Kim. They looked a little puzzled and wondered why on earth they would ever feel that way, but they said that they would make sure of it. So here it is in writing, pal... in another eight years when you ditch us for your cutie girlfriend I have full permission to remind you that you promised me that you'd never do that. But for now, I will relish in every day that you are eight... because as this new mom knows, this year is going to go by fast. Make the most of it, try your best, be nice to your parents and your brother, help your mom keep the house clean, make straight A's, and continue to think that your Aunt Kim is cool... that's all I ask. We love you, dude, and can't wait to see you again soon.

Oh and PS - as always, your birthday gift will probably arrive in a few months. As much as I try to change, apparently your Great Aunt Karen passed her birthday tradition onto me.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Pink Ladies

No, I am not referring to the clique in Grease that Sandy wanted to be a part of, but instead of a group of women from my very own family that are much more popular in my heart. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, my fellow blogger friend Jessica posted about how breast cancer has affected her life. I loved the idea... it has affected my life greatly as well and these strong, courageous women are inspiring and deserve to be honored. So without further ado, here are my Pink Ladies...
The first is my Nana, one of the coolest ladies I know. That is not an exaggeration. She's spunky and opinionated and will tell you what's on her mind. If she points out a flaw that you have(either on purpose or unintentionally), you actually want to thank her for it. And then give her a hug. Not necessarily in that order. She has basically told us that she is waiting for a great grand-daughter, even though she loves all of the boys that have come along. I love how she still exudes everything elegant about her generation, making me wish that I could have grown up with her and been her friend. In the past two years she has seen a grandson, a daughter, and a husband pass away, but I have never met anyone stronger. You certainly wouldn't know it... she's as tough as nails and as gentle as a lamb. I could go on and on. When she faced breast cancer, I'm sad to say that I didn't really pay much attention. I'm sure that I was told what she was going through, but I was a snotty teenager who was very much caught up in my own little world (which, in my head was a very important and very big world) and I did not really recognize the magnitude of what she was going through. But knowing my Nana, she didn't just beat cancer, she scared it away. Like I said, she's pretty amazing.

The next is my mom, and this time, the experience was very personal. As my mom was diagnosed and treated, I was living at home with her and witnessed just about every emotion and every high and low. I think there was a part of me that knew that she'd get through it, although I could tell in our conversations that she wasn't always so sure. I watched as she recovered from a lumpectomy, went through four bouts of chemo, lost all of her hair, and endured several radiation treatments. Although she never really complained, I could tell on many days that she just didn't feel well, but got up and went about her business anyway. She even trained for a half marathon, going out and walking several miles each week, through it all. By the time the race came along, she was a survivor, even ditching her wig and just wearing a ball cap over the fuzz that was finally growing back. The one promise I had to make to her was that I would make sure she had hair at my wedding, which still makes me laugh. Perhaps it was shorter than she wanted it but I kept my promise, and honestly, it's still one of the best haircuts she's ever had in my opinion. Mom makes the title cancer survivor look good... and I know she does not give herself enough credit.

The third one is my Aunt Barbara... Aunt B as I always called her. I know that I used the word amazing with both ladies above, but this one takes the cake. Sadly, her battle ended last spring, although it wasn't breast cancer that took her but rather a form of brain cancer that developed due to the breast cancer. She put up a good fight and I still find it unbelievable that she's gone. I wrote a tribute to her last April, which you can find here. We all miss her terribly, but like the others, I attach word survivor to her name because it wasn't actually breast cancer that took her. Aunt B has left such a legacy to my family and everyone who knew her to live life to its fullest and fight with all that you have. Every time I think of her I can still hear her saying "Hey, Kimmy" to me in that very distinct voice that she had. I hope that never goes away.

The same half marathon that I mentioned above was one that my mom and my Aunt Barbara did together. I stayed with them for about the first seven or eight miles and then ran ahead so that I could watch them finish. I had tears in my eyes as they crossed hand in hand. Aunt B was probably the only person in the race wearing hiking pants and boots (which is what she trained in) but I could not imagine her doing it any other way. After the race, my mom told her that she inspired her to get out and train because she knew that my Aunt B was training in the cold, wet winter weather in New York. My Aunt B then told my mom that she inspired her because she knew that mom was training despite going through radiation treatments. What we did not know during that race was that although mom's battle had just been completed, Aunt Barb's would just be starting. It make that day so much more special now.
My sisters and I know that it is very likely that one of us will face the ugly C-word one day. In my book, it's a 4-letter word and I hate it. But it's like I told my sister one night on a run... it doesn't scare me. I feel like it won't scare me if I ever get that news. In fact, I feel like I have no doubt in my mind that I will beat it. Perhaps this sounds crazy or naive, and putting it down in black and white seems like a pretty bold thing to do, but I know it can be done and I know that I could face it. My sister completely agreed and said that she's not afraid of it either... not in the least. I think the world is moving to a place where the word cancer does not have to be a scary thing. These days it doesn't mean the end. The journey may not be fun, but nowadays it is not hopeless. But I do have high hopes that it will be more than that. One day there will be a cure, and I am going to hold onto that hope with all that I have. Cancer will one day be a thing of the past and the list of survivors will grow longer and longer. And in the meantime, we don't have to live in fear about it, because as these incredible women prove that it can be beaten!

To Mom and Nana~ thank you for being such strong, inspiring women. I am so proud to be a part of your family. I love you both so much!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

There's Nothing Like a Sister

In college I lived three hours away from my sisters. During my freshman year when I did not have my car at school, my oldest sister Angie drove the three hours to pick me up and then drove the three hours back home. My other sister, Mindy, made the same six-hour trip to take me back at the end of the weekend. That is how much they wanted to spend time with me.

Mindy ended up moving to Florida the next year, so my college years were spent with many trips up to visit Angie. Her boys were born while I was in school and I could not get enough. Whenever I visited I would spoil them rotten and I could always count on a shared coffee cake and free loads of laundry. It was my closest "home" to visit and she always took great care of me.

After college I moved to Florida... Mindy lived three miles away. In the five years that I lived down there she became the friend that I could count on for anything, call at any time, and her door was always open. We ran too many miles together to count, and even though we were not necessarily thrilled to be out there, we were always happy we accomplished our mileage. Some of our best talks were on those runs and we have finished two half-marathons and a full marathon side by side.

When we moved to Small Town, Illinois, it was the first time in ten years that I did not live within a short drive to visit at least one of them. I was thrilled to be moving here, of course, and am still as happy as can be that our lives are here, but there are days that I miss them more than I thought I would. Because we moved around so much during our youth when my dad was in the army, I never really get "homesick" because I don't really have a place that is "home." Home is here now and I wouldn't have it any other way. I realized recently, however, that I do get extremely "sistersick." No matter how many great friends I have here (and believe me, I have many wonderful ones and am extremely blessed) there is just nothing like a sister. Sisters are those gals that make you laugh so hard you start crying, can bring up an inside joke from twenty years ago that will just set you off, recall your most embarrassing moments, give the best hugs when you need one, let you borrow their clothes (or recommend that you change!), and truly love you unconditionally. With a sister you know that no matter what they know about you, what mistakes you've made, or what they've seen you through, they're going to love you no matter what. I can't imagine my life without the two of them.

During the first week of this month, I drove to Kentucky to visit Angie. An 8 hour drive with a 6-month old kid was worth it to see her. She would've done the same for me. When I got there, my other sister was there, too, with her son! My mom had joined her on the drive from Florida (16 hours I believe!) to surprise me and it was wonderful to have all of us in one place. Having all three of us together happens few and far between now that I live in the cold white north, so I was extremely grateful to get them both for a few days. I can't say that we did anything all that exciting, and honestly I can't really think of a single highlight to blog about, but it filled a void that I didn't even realize was forming in my heart. As I hugged Mindy goodbye after three (too short) days and Angie goodbye a few days later, tears welled up in my eyes and that sinking feeling started creeping in rather quickly. They grew up alongside of me and helped shape who I am, so I am forever a part of them. Maybe that's why I feel like a part of me is missing when they are not around.

The good news is that I won't have to wait too long to get another dose. Mindy, her husband Michael, and their son Adam are coming to visit this Christmas! Just knowing that makes the "sistersickness" a little more bearable. Mindy and I have been on the phone already, acting like giddy teenagers and making plans. The questions are far too detailed for a trip that is still two months away... "can you make sure it will snow while we're there?" "Can you make sure we have a white Christmas?" "Do you think we can borrow a snowsuit together so that the boys can both be in the snow at the same time?" "Wanna spend a night in the city?" "Do we need to bring the carseat or do you have an extra?" and things like that. But talking about it seems to make it that much closer so I think we'll continue to do so until December 18th rolls around. One thing we are not discussing is whether or not she should bring her running shoes because I am pretty sure the answer is a big fat "no."

I used to think that I was such an independent gal that I would never need to (or even really want to necessarily) live in the same state, much less town, than my family. The older I get (and the more kids we have), I realize how untrue that is becoming. So even though these trips will do for now, I'm thinking that maybe one day, albeit years and years in the future, we'll venture toward wherever they are. One can hope so anyway.

Angie and Mindy~ I love you gals more than you will ever know. I'm not sure what compelled me to sit down and dedicate an entire post to you today, but it's probably just because I don't tell you that enough. Thanks for being the two greatest sisters a girl can have, for treating my husband as if he's been in the family all along (and seriously, can you even remember what life was like without him? How boring!), and for loving on my son the way you do. We are so blessed to be a part of your lives. Just move closer, okay??? I hope to see you both very soon!

Angie, Mindy, and Me - October 2010

Someday I would hope to have two girls of my own so that they can share what we have together. But at the rate this bunch is going, we'll have nothing but boys!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Seriously... is it already the 19th of this month? Where did the first 18 go? This month has gone by in a blur and it feels like Christmas will be here before I know it. It's my favorite time of the year here in Mauneyland and everyday seems to be filled with perfect weather, vibrant leaves, endless sunshine, and therefore zero reason to sit inside and blog. Or do anything for that matter. We woke up this morning to 30 degree weather, so I know that winter is right around the corner and we'll be holed up inside for three months or so. Although I'm not looking forward to that, I do love the changing of the seasons and everything that comes with each one. So even though I have a ton to catch you up on... I'm going to neglect my blog once again and go take the boy for a walk! Fall is awaiting!

But just to tie you over... here is some of our autumn fun so far. More to come including a post on our Kentucky visit, Jake's 7 month post, and a couple of other surprises.

Now get out from your computer and do the same... you'll be glad that you did!