Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring forward...slowly...

One thing I like about my long runs, besides the running part, is that I have a lot of uninterrupted time to myself. Sometimes I just lose myself to the tunes that are playing in my ears and sometimes I do a lot of thinking.

Today was a thinking kind of day.

For the first 3 miles, I reflected on my week. I was really excited to get outside and run this morning. The temperature was above freezing and there was no wind. My legs felt light and my run felt effortless, so I didn't even really pay much attention to pace or anything. I thought a lot about my son and where we're headed next. He went back to school this week, and things went well. Together with the school, we've got a pretty good plan in place to help him be successful. We were all feeling pretty good about that. I'm still feeling a little unsettled about the future, because there's no predicting what's to come.

Kind of like what happened next on my run.

My plan was to head over to the retention pond, where I do so much of my training. I like running there because it is a flat 2 mile loop and there's a bathroom, which is even open in the winter. I haven't run there much this winter because the path gets really icy in spots and the park district doesn't do the best job keeping it clear. I figured with the warmer temperatures, the ice would be gone.

I figured wrong.

The snow may be retreating but that's pure ice on the path behind me.
The path was clear for about the first 3/4 mile and then it became treacherous. Black ice, thin ice over water...the path was impassible in spots. I ended up having to walk about 1/2 mile and that was even difficult. My mood turned from optimistic to grumpy. I cursed the park district for their negligence. Seriously, how hard would it be to throw some sand down so we could get some traction? As I carefully moved along the path (that mile was 10:35 on my Garmin), I felt a tug in my right groin as I tried not to slip and fall. I cursed myself for my stupidity, for thinking that the path would be clear. It's like this every spring when the snow begins to melt. That thaw/freeze cycle that makes getting around tough. Every year, as soon as the temperature begins to rise, I'm so impatient for better running conditions. I should know better.

I headed off the path into the neighborhood that surrounds the park and began to run on the road again, resuming my normal pace. My mood remained pretty negative, though, and as I moved along, I thought about all the things people said to me about my son this week. People try to be helpful but instead say insensitive things that hurt. Some have questioned the way my husband and I have chosen to manage his issues. I have a pretty thin skin. I started having thoughts of self doubt about my parenting abilities.

Because the path was so icy, I couldn't complete risk another loop and so I headed back to my neighborhood, knowing I'd have to stay on the roads and reconfigure my route to get my 8 miles. That made me unhappy too. I almost stopped and called my husband to come and get me. Seriously, I was so over this run. But my half marathon is next week, and how stupid would it be for me to quit on myself? And really, it was only 8 miles. I was lucky I didn't have to do more. I swear, I am my own worst enemy.

This guy's really got the moves!
So I kept moving forward. Because, as moms and runners, that's what we do.

The most extraordinary thing happened next, though. Yesterday, I put some new music on my playlist. Sometimes when I pick out songs, I don't always know if a particular song is going to work for a run. I kept seeing a new song, Push-it, by iSHi, on several Spotify workout playlists. Well, this song came on and yes, I made a good choice. This song lit a fire in my blackened heart. All of a sudden, yes, I "pushed it" as I felt a spring in my step. My pace picked back up. And I felt my mood lift. Isn't it amazing how a song can do this?



I salvaged what could have been a really bad run. I could have quit when I wanted to. And had that black mood carry me through the rest of the day. Even though it wasn't my best run, I knew I couldn't help it, with the conditions I had to work with. And in spite of that really bad mile split, where I had to walk, my last mile split was 8:36.  I finished with an average pace per mile of 9:01. Seeing that put a smile on my face. I hope I can bring that tenacity, that push to my race next week.

And I hope that confidence extends itself to my parenting. I need to shut out those voices of self doubt and not let comments of others bother me. I like to follow my gut, as you know, and my gut is ok with what we're doing right now. The plan is always subject to change.

Everyone is a parenting expert.

Do any of us really know what we're doing?


I had some thoughts on the run, comparing my run, my problems with my son, the cycle of early spring. Spring is really a metaphor for life. It's a time of new beginnings, right? Spring is the time of saying goodbye to the bitterness and ugliness of a long winter. But the change in the environment doesn't happen overnight. Little by little, we see some signs of change. The birds start to sing, loudly. I'm hearing that! I smelled skunk on my run, definitely a sign of spring, but not a welcome one. Crocuses and daffodils sprout up through the brown grass. Once the snow melts, the grass starts to turn green. Buds appear on the trees and then begin to open. For me, having all that color is so pleasing after the bland palate of winter.

And the same goes for life. We move forward, but slowly. Letting go of the past, of old habits, is never easy. I see signs of hope, of positive change.

I'm not a patient person. But I'm trying.

Day by day.

Linking up with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update! Make sure you check out the other blogs!

36 comments :

  1. That's exactly why I kept my run inside today, because I knew the ice would be bad, and running around neighborhoods for 6 miles is just about as painful as running on the dreadmill. Glad to hear your son is doing better! <3

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  2. Yikes! I hit a similar issue on a bike ride today. Mostly clear except for a section that was shaded so the melt that did happen refroze. And I was on a road bike. Kudos to you for sticking it out and getting in a good solid workout. I haven't been following your blog long enough to know the back story on your son, but your sentiment seems positive so I'll smile for you.

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    1. I so wanted to go out on my bike today! But I can't imagine staying upright on 2 skinny tires!

      Soon!

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  3. It has been warming up here and things are melting so I am of course itching to go out for a run. Of course I am in no shape to be running yet so I will stay inside and ride my bike!

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    1. Next winter I'm buying a bike trainer so I can ride inside!

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  4. This is a great post. Good for you for hanging in there and letting yourself turn it around instead of following the spiral of badness.

    So glad you didn't get hurt! I cut my outside run short today because the footing was so uncertain - black ice here, water there, snow piles...it made me really tense.

    Only you & the others involved have to be okay with whatever your choices are. Friends will support you no matter what, the rest is just noise.

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    1. It was brutal. I'm glad that I turned this run around to a positive outcome. Hopefully I can continue to carry that through my day to day...

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  5. Blah! Hope the goin is ok. You've been running too well to get injured now. Yay for your son heading back to school!

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  6. I love this post. I hate that you are struggling with all of this stuff, but you know what we are doing the best we can and I know you are. God only gives us what we can handle and you are a great mom for sticking with it and supporting your son in every way you can. I hope I can be as good a mom as you are when my boys are older! That song is awesome and would get me going as well!

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    1. What's that saying? You never know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have? (attributed to Bob Marley)

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  7. My run on Friday was like that. I only made it 2 miles.

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  8. We've got good runs and bad runs, this was the latter. Sorry to hear about the ice on the trail that made your run not go well. Great job getting it done and pushing through even at great pace!

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    1. The weather for this week looks good and that ice should be gone by next weekend!

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  9. This sounds exactly like my run last Wednesday. I'm so glad you came through okay and it sounds like you took something great away from it even if it was an ugly run! As much as I hate the bad runs, I usually get a good lesson from them. Spring will be here soon!!

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  10. You're not alone Wendy; I've been pretty irritated with the conditions of roads, trails & sidewalks around here, too. When we went to another city on Saturday for the Chase Race, I was really impressed with how clear their sidewalks were in the downtown area...and jealous! :) I'm hopeful that all of this will be gone within the next day, or so; I'm so ready for Spring! I would have been very irritated, as well, if my route were interrupted; kudos to you for carrying on and finding some good in the day. I have so much respect for parents; being childless, I can't even imagine what you go through on a daily basis and I am rooting for you. Thanks so much for linking up with the blog; hope your Monday is going well.

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    1. Seems like a lot of us runners have been frustrated with road and path conditions lately...this winter really tested the resolve of a lot of us! Hoping that spring is really here!

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  11. I like all the thinking and it sounds like things are coming along. It is tough being a Mom- slow and steady , we are here for you! Now, that snow and nice needs to go away- enough of that already!!! LOL!!! :) :) sending you warm thoughts- we are in the 80's this week!

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  12. I feel very guilty commenting on these winter weather posts-- I live in the bubble of SoCal, where the weather conditions and women's boobs and lips are always the same. I really think that you've had the last snow storm... it's all going to melt in a few weeks. No really, I think it is. haha!

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    1. Don't feel guilty! We wish we had your weather!

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  13. You are so ready for this half! Excited? I'm excited for you! Hope you get great weather.

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    1. I'm a little worried about the race organizer, who seems really unorganized....we shall see!

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  14. After having a difficult yet delightful 8-mile run in about 6-8 inches of snow on Saturday, my calves are still sore and I am ready for spring and clear running trails! Hope your groin is okay, and already on the road to healing.

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    1. I'm hoping it was just a tug and nothing else.

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  15. It is starting to feel a little warmer here as well - at least there is some sun! And anything above -30C feels wonderful!!!

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    1. Anything above -30 sounds wonderful! Brrrr that sounds cold!

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  16. I'm with you... I either zone out to the music or spend some time with my thoughts. No matter what is bothering me, it always seems more manageable after I've had a few miles to myself.

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  17. i hope you have an amazing race! sometimes a good song makes all the difference. i don't run with music anymore but i can sing songs to myself and it helps! :)

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  18. I'm so glad I read this, even though I see you wrote it a week ago (I'm behind on blog-reading)! I am unsure if your son's issues are anything like mine, but I do know that I get some of the same responses to my parenting decisions that you do. And yet we know our kids better than anyone and are therefore best suited to make these decisions. Just last week we had a meeting for his IEP, and the vice-principal kept bringing up what a difficult year he had LAST year! This, despite the fact that he's having a good year this year! Eventually I had to remind her that we are discussing ways to improve present behavior for the future, not the past. She is like a broken record, always digging up the bad stuff! Hope your half marathon went well!

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    1. I think being a parent and advocating for our kids is the hardest thing we can do. I also feel like (totally not running related here) that our schools are failing our kids, esp. boys. My oldest has always struggled, yet did well enough to move through and not qualify for any services. And here we are, a high school junior, who couldn't care less about school. It's been tough.

      Yep, my half went well! PR and AG placement! Nothing like taking adversity and running it off, right?

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