October 5, 2014
Occupation: Assistant Store Manager at lululemon athletica
Residence: Chicago, IL
Time since last race: 5 months, 3 weeks
Conditions: 45-50, partly sunny, crisp
Official time: 03:27:24
“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.”
― Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption: A Story from Different Seasons
I’m not much of a religious person. But I have faith. And I believe.
Raised in a traditional Italian Catholic family, I attended parochial schools until college and went to mass every Saturday. My relationship with and definition of religion was laid out for me from the get-go. The things I love(d): the community, the people, the tradition. The thing didn’t love was how irreverent and antiquated everything seemed. Since I was 18, I have stepped foot inside the church on sporadic occasions- usually for holidays but most notably my sister’s wedding (!!!) and my Nana’s funeral. Those times it honored the occasion and was so reverent, so special.
Don’t get me wrong though, I did feel a void. My dad so wisely advises my siblings and me that our three priorities in life should be, “God, family and work.” He’s so right. When I get intentional around being real about faith, I see that my interpretation of those three priorities constantly evolve and are ever-so present to me right now.
Over the past few years I have connected to God through yoga. The ritual of unrolling a mat, breathing deeply, considering the workings of the universe – all have had profound effects on my spirituality. When I am not practicing yoga, I feel disconnected from my faith and it is within the four walls of any studio that I am restored.
Lately, more often than not, I connect with God through nature. Even though I live in downtown Chicago, amidst high rises and concrete, the vast expanse of Lake Michigan and the paths on which I run are just steps from my front door. The way that the sun rises, sets, shines through clouds, illuminates buildings, reflects off the water – it’s different every day and it’s magical. Sometimes the lake is quiet, like glass, and sometimes it’s angry but always it is beautiful. When I am not outside running, I feel disconnected from my faith and it is when the sun (or rain, or wind or snow) hits my face that I am restored.
I know that the traditional four walls of a church will be there for me and when I’m ready I’ll go back, but right now I love the beauty of finding my faith in other spaces and places.
Throughout this particular training cycle, I did most of my running alone. I connected often with my faith on these runs. I spent a lot of time in that etherial space between reality and oblivion but oh so aware that there is a higher being watching over us.
Faith and belief in the structure of family is probably one of my favorite aspects of life because the definition can be so widely interpreted and the love I experience that much greater when I open my heart to its definitions.
As many of my friends begin having children, I have been surprised with this heightened sense of love for them and the new lives they have created. I can’t help but feel like I’m partly responsible for helping these little humans live big, amazing lives!
And my own family. (Ugggghhhh I love you guys SO MUCH!!) <- Sorry for the minor outburst, back to regularly scheduled programming in 3, 2, 1….
On September 8 of this year, my Nana passed away at 94 years of age. She was a spitfire. She had no filter. She ironed my underwear. She put Cheerios in her coffee. She made the best gnocchi I have ever had in my life. It was an overwhelming sadness to receive the call from my mother that she had passed. I couldn’t wait to get home to be with my family. Even though the reason we were all brought together was sad, the time we spent together was not. My sister and her husband flew in from Seattle. My dad’s four siblings came without question. I got to hold my cousin’s baby (a new DiCello in the family, the first grandbaby on either side!). I watched Hugh and Dan be pall bearers. I felt so connected with my siblings and I just wanted to hold tight to everyone.
From Nana’s necklace, I took a charm and with the intention of putting it in a safe place when I got back to Chicago, added it to the necklace I wear everyday. I ended up never taking it off. During the Twin Cities Marathon I touched the charm several times, I knew she was with me, I had faith that she gave me wings.
My favorite part about working at lululemon is the commitment that is required to goal-setting. Last year when I was recovering from Lyme Disease, I got away from this practice and was not at all inspired to get back into it. I recently wrote about ‘letting it be’ and when I did (let things be), the inspiration started to come back.
I’ve got my health and personal goals movin’ and groovin’ but career goals… WHAT ARE MINE?! Recently lululemon started a digital campaign called #ifnothing which inspired people to share that, “If nothing stood in your way, what would you do?” When I think about that, truly, if nothing stood in my way… get ready for it… I would attend culinary school. Like full-on full-time culinary school. Chills.down.my.spine. How real is this desire? I have no idea. But I’m putting it out there anyway.
There are some other goals floating around in my headspace and will soon take life in the digital space. I’ll be in collaboration with my sister – think recipes, food, photography, blogging. Are you excited yet? I AM.
Right now, career goals – I’m focused on integrity, balance and a rocking holiday season that is
fast-approaching here. So when we’re on the other side of that, I’ll get back to you with career goals. But let me guarantee (in case you weren’t already convinced) that I have faith and I believe that my path will be clear and ready for me to dance right down.
TWIN CITIES MARATHON
Let’s talk training first because I had so many lightbulb moments this time around. For the first time ever I had several weeks of running that were in the 40-45 mile range. I also stopped eating gels and switched to real food on my longer runs. Justin’s Almond Butter packets, fruit leathers and baby food pouches. Yes you read right. The Peas, Pears and Spinach one is the best (right Liz Berey?)
I also became obsessed with Core Fusion Barre classes at Exhale. Over the years I have done all of the workouts. Crossfit, yoga, spinning, kickboxing, personal training, high intensity interval training, you name it, I’ve tried it. Barre at Exhale is the only workout that has directly translated to running so effectively that I had ZERO aches/pains/lingering soreness during my entire training cycle. Even at mile 23 during the race, I heard Jon Nelson yelling, “belly button to spine!” Core awareness. I’m telling you, this was key for me.
Lastly, I added a recovery run on Sundays to the schedule, per the advice of my running BFF and coach, Dave Coligado. Wow did that really work in terms of adding weekly mileage while shaking out the legs from the previous day’s longer run. I’ll be keeping that one in my repertoire.
Official race recap:
Miles 1-22: Awesome
Miles 23-26.2: Less awesome, but still pretty good
I was lucky enough to get to run this race with Dave, which is the best thing ever. The last time we ran a marathon together I had Lyme Disease and didn’t know it. I practically cried the entire race and was 1000% sure he would never want to run with me again. REDEMPTION AT LAST! Almost two years later to the day, we toed the line again and this time it was 1000% different. Each mile was a breeze, the scenery was like an Ansel Adams painting, my playlist was on point, our outfits matched per usual and every time I checked in with him it was a smile and a thumbs up.
Miles 20-25 were uphill and that was rough. I for real hit the wall at mile 23 but at that point I also realized that I could run 10-minute miles and STILL set a PR. We crossed the line at 03:27:24 which was three and a half minutes quicker than my previous best time at Savannah in 2011. <<happy dance>>
As 2014 comes to a close, I am filled with a greater sense of faith (in God, Family and Work) and I believe that in all things there is an opportunity to choose happiness, to choose love and to kick some major ass while we all #goalcrush the heck out of our lives.