Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Running Serendipitously

Serendipity.

It's a million dollar word. Luck. Unexpected pleasures. Good fortune. Dodging a bullet. Finding a silver lining. Dumb luck. A happy accident. Whatever serendipity means to you, these happenstances are the moments that you savor. There is nothing better than having something wonderful happen to you when you least expect it. What a happy word for this week's Wednesday Word prompt!



Serendipity is reading the signs.

A few years ago, my employer sponsored an Instagram contest to win a free entry into the Chicago Marathon. This was a race I ran 3 years before, crashed and burned, and vowed never to run again. I viewed the contest as a sign as a chance to redeem myself. If I won an entry, I promised myself I'd run the race I knew I had in me. I found out 14 weeks before the race that I was a winner. My coach didn't blink an eye, shifted gears with my training, and trained me for a huge PR.

Kind of a segue from the last post...
Sometimes the signs aren't as obvious as this one...but I took advantage of their offer and used their bathroom...
"I think we make our own decisions. I just think that fate sends us little signs, and it's how we read the signs that determines whether we're happy or not." -John Cusack in Serendipity
Serendipity is knowledge that you dodged a bullet.

Finding my coach? That happened because I listened to my gut and walked away from an unsettling interview with a running coach. The running coach came highly recommended to me, but as we talked it was clear that her philosophy of training did not coincide with mine. That instinct to keep looking sent me to my friends who own the local CrossFit box, who introduced me to the amazing Becky, who kept me running but worked on my foundation. And put some youth back into these aging legs. She also made my training a ton of fun and threw some confidence my way.

This is marathon training. Yep.
"Sometimes you gotta say 'what the f**k'. Make your move."- Tom Cruise in Risky Business
Serendipity could mean finding a silver lining in an unfortunate situation.

One year ago I was all set to head to Florida to run the Sarasota Half Marathon. My oldest son decided to get himself in some trouble, and I knew I couldn't leave. Sad but determined, I found a local half marathon scheduled on the same day as the Florida race and signed up. Not only did I have a fun day with my friend Sara, I crushed the race, setting a new PR for myself and finishing 2d place in my AG. I would never have run this race otherwise. Since the Sarasota RD let me defer my entry, I'm heading down to Florida next week to finally run this race that has been on my bucket list for several years.

Silver lining on a rainy day? Having the whole lake path to myself.
"You have to do everything you can. You have to work your hardest and if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining."- Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
Serendipity is luck. Sometimes dumb luck. Maybe you just stumble into good fortune. Literally. 

I joke that I live life by the seat of my pants and follow my gut. I've never been much of a planner because it seems like when I do make plans, things don't generally turn out as I hoped. With the exception of marathons, I don't usually commit far in advance to races for fear of injury or life situations. That half marathon I ran last fall is a perfect example. I signed up the week of the race with no expectations. I just wanted to run. While I wouldn't recommend deciding on a long distance race at the last minute, I was banking on some residual fitness from my Chicago Marathon training. This was my second fastest half marathon ever. I felt so good, I was smiling almost the entire race.

At the finish line. Look at that smile!
"If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans."-Woody Allen
Serendipity is a happy accident.

Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we don't understand those reasons. But things always seem to work out for the best. I was so disappointed that I couldn't connect with any of the myriad of friends I knew were running last fall's Chicago Marathon. The logistics at such a big race are crazy! So even though there were tons of people there, I didn't see anyone I knew. I finished up the race, sat down to drink my post-race beer and savor a great race. I received a text from my oldest son, who was there looking for me. Completely unexpected. How lucky is that?


"There are no mistakes, just happy accidents."- Bob Ross, artist
What does serendipity mean to you? Do you consider yourself a lucky person? Unlucky?

I'm linking up with DebRuns and her Wednesday Word blog prompt. This one was a bit of a challenge! I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else says. What a great word!





72 comments :

  1. I am loving all of these posts so very much. Serendipity is my favorite word and being everyone's unique take on it is making my morning.

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    1. Serendipity is just such a happy word!

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  2. As much as I hate that I have been injured so much I do think it has taught me a ton about my body and about running. I love that you ended up working with a crossfit coach to improve your running. I often feel like it would be so helpful to have someone guide me in my strength training and watch my form!

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    1. It was the best accident! Sometimes what you think you need isn't always what you need, right? I have had no regrets about going with a strength coach instead of a running coach.

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  3. I tend to think of myself as blessed more than lucky, to remind myself to be grateful for all my good fortune. I like your different ways of looking at serendipity - and the notion that sometimes you have to make the best of what seems like a bad situation to stumble upon a good one.

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    1. The silver lining quote is one of my favorites. You can always find something good in a bad situation. It isn't always obvious, but there's always something good.

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  4. I love this post. This reminds me of everything that I have waiting for me when I start running again. I will be honest, there are times when I fear that I won't love it as much--but then I remember runs like these (yes, even the "shitty" ones--because the comedy!), and there is no doubt in my mind why I am working so hard to get back out there!

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    1. That's right! Sometimes the only thing to salvage from a bad run is the humor.

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  5. Every time I hear this word I think of the movie "Serendipity" about the couple that meets and she writes her phone number down in an old book and he has to trace it down and find it (or something like that). It's been a long time since I've seen it. How cool that your employer holds contests for race entries!!!

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    1. Last summer the contest was open to anyone, and I saw a FB friend who doesn't work there won an entry. It kind of bothered me because one of my coworkers wanted to run and didn't. :(

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  6. Have you ever considered being a life coach? Your posts are always uplifting, life-affirming, yet paired with a dose of reality and slightly sardonic humor. Just what I need. Would you be my coach?

    I don't have the words to say how much I love this.
    Great quotes, too, even if from the movies. They resonate.

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    1. You know these posts are all pep talks to myself... :)

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  7. I think your definition of "luck" and being "lucky" vs. "unlucky" has a lot to do with your outlook on life. You clearly try to see the good in so many situations that you're faced with, and that's one of the many things that I admire about you, Wendy. Some people would consider themselves unlucky with some of the situations you've described, but you choose to look at the positive side of the situations.

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    1. I like to think of myself as a glass half full kind of person. I am a bit of a complainer, tho. These posts keep me positive!

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  8. Great stories, Wendy!

    Although I definitely believe things happen for a reason, I'm also a planner. I looooove having a plan in place. My husband doesn't. It sort of drives me nuts. Getting him to plan stuff is like pulling teeth.

    OTOH, of course some of the best times in life are totally unplanned too!

    You used quotes from some of my favorite movies, too. I almost went there, used Serendipity, but I refrained myself. :)

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    1. My husband is the planner. I am not. It drives him crazy!

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  9. great post.

    running makes everything more awesome!!

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  10. I find stuff like this a lot in my life, but don't use this word enough! It's a good one. Good luck at Sarasota :-)

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    1. I love this word--like you, I don't use it enough!

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  11. I love this post!!! Serendipity is one of my favorite words.

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  12. I think it's all a matter of perspective. How we choose to see things. Glass half full or empty. Things have a way of working out. By seizing opportunities working hard and not giving up, I think we make our own luck.

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    1. I completely agree. Interesting how so many people don't see it that way.

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  13. I love that you have made the best out of some difficult situations and have come out very successful!

    I don't believe in luck, but I do believe in Karma. Strange. I know! For me it's more of it was meant to happen that way!

    Thank you for this post! I love the positive outlook!

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    1. I think you really have to take charge of your destiny. Sometimes things aren't as they appear. And even tho we don't always understand the why, things do have a way of working out for the best.

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  14. Working with Becky seems to be one of the best decisions you have made about your fitness. I feel the same about my trainer. We met by accident and I've been with him for 13 years! funny how things happen for a reason sometimes

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    1. Isn't it interesting? But there are no accidents, right?

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  15. I LOVE, love, love this, times a thousand! This really resonates with me on something I'm going through right now. I think it's serendipity that I read this, actually! Helps a lot. Thank you!

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  16. I don't know how lucky I am but I do believe in a positive mindset!

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    1. I think that alone brings a lot of good fortune your way!

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  17. I'm a big believer in "everything happens for a reason," which I think is also part of Serendipity. You have to be able to read the signs and find the silver linings, like you said - Something good can always come from something bad.

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    1. You are so right! There's always something good.

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  18. Great post. I believe things happen for a reason. You are proof of that.

    Running has changed my life.

    Hope to meet you someday maybe serendipitously...

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  19. I believe in serendipity and I can see that you do as well...it's a form of "it will all work out how it's supposed to" even when you can't quite figure that out while "it" is happening.

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    1. But once "it" is over and you look back, usually you find some clarity. Or at least peace.

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  20. I sure could use some dumb luck and a silver lining, yesterday was one of those craptastic days.

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    1. Those crapola days make us appreciate the good ones!

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  21. I would have to say, it is finding the blessing in the unexpected. I guess it's all about perspective! :)

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    1. It really is all about how you look at things.

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  22. great post! i think im somewhere in between lucky and unlucky, sometimes lucky?

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  23. You always inspire me and I loved reading more about your journey and your serendipitous encounter with CrossFit and your coach Becky. Can't wait to read about your Florida race!

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  24. I'm a big believer in finding silver lining and things happening for a reason! I'm such a planner that I just have to remind myself of this a lot and let things go. I love this post - so fun and inspiring, and the quotes and photos are great!

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    1. Sometimes it's hard to accept the unfortunate things...this year start off so badly for me. But as they always do, things turned around.

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  25. I consider myself blessed. I am a believer that God has a plan laid out for me and if I look and listen I will find it.

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    1. We really have very little control over our destiny, right?

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  26. One of my favorite quotes is: “Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.”
    ~ Carl Sandburg
    That pretty much sums up my life. Lucky... Not so much. Blessed, YES!

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    1. This has just become one of my favorite quotes! Thank you!

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  27. This is GREAT!!!

    I am a strong believer in faith but I do also believe in happy accidents. I am such a planner and find it hard to just go with the flow but I have found when I do go with the flow the serendipity of it all is AWESOME!!

    -Tamieka@fitballingrunningmom

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    1. It's nice to just let go and let things happen. That always when the best things come around.

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  28. Interesting question... do I consider myself a lucky person? I am lucky I guess in that (knock on wood) I have not had a major health issue such as cancer effect me or my kids... but otherwise, I believe in hard work, determination, and making the best of whatever situation I'm in.

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    1. Sounds like a lot of blessings! And attitude really determines all that.

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  29. I definitely feel like a lucky person. That isn't say I don't work hard for the things I have accomplished, but there are MANY people who work hard and still don't accomplish what they want to. Now I definitely haven't accomplished everything I want to, so I will keep working hard at those things!

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    1. I still believe that you can do anything you put your mind to.

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  30. I absolutely believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do think that I've had some really good luck these past few months and I'm so grateful for it!

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    1. It's nice to have a streak going like that!

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  31. Bob Ross is the best. I'm glad you're getting to take on Sarasota! You have made some great choices, and had some serendipitous things happen - all of it helps shape you as a runner and a person. You're going to crush Sarasota!

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    1. I hope it isn't too humid! I've certainly not had any opportunity to heat acclimate. I'll be taking that topic on on the blog Friday!

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  32. I love the story of how you met Becky and that she's not a traditional running coach. Serendipity definitely played a part in you finding her.

    Thanks for linking up!

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    1. Another fun word prompt! Keep them coming!

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  33. I absolutely love this because I'm a BIG planner and, sometimes the very best things are those completely and totally unplanned. I would love to truly believe that everything will happen as it should! Love all your examples and pictures - especially your super smiley half marathon!!
    Good luck in Florida - what a great time to go south!

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    1. My husband wishes I were a better planner. I make plans but I'm not great at it. I put everything on the calendar and forget to look at it!

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  34. This post just made me smile! I don't think I had been reading your blog long when the sh*t hit the fan with your family, I do remember the change in the race though. A sign, yes a sign. I often wondered how you hooked up with Becky. Did you go to cross fit at all before meeting her? It's evident she was just what you needed at just the right time! Love when this comes together!

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    1. I didn't do crossfit, in fact, I was reluctant to meet her because of crossfit! What if I hadn't gone outside the box?

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  35. Love everything about this post especially that sweet Bob Ross t-shirt! How cool that you won an entry into Chicago and that jumpstarted your running again!

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    1. Haha! The t-shirt I found a Walmart. I rarely shop there, but this one I couldn't pass up!

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  36. I absolutely love that you have a crossfit coach! It totally makes sense...functional movements help runners! That Bob Ross shirt is awesome!

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    1. For me, this kind of coaching made the best sense!

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