October 20, 2012
Occupation: Key Leader at lululemon athletica
Residence: Chicago, IL
Time since last race: 3 months
Conditions: 50’s and sunny at the start, progressively becoming colder
Official time: 03:32:36
Thanks for letting me take my savasana.
Were you waiting? I was. Don’t worry, we were waiting together. Waiting for words, waiting for thoughts, waiting for laughter, waiting for love. Was there any sadness in all this waiting? I don’t remember. Although what I do remember, is what I’ll never forget: everything.
Do you remember when I told you about my muse? It was my first one. I didn’t know how to manage its power. In fact, I let my muse control me instead of the other way around. My inspiration was in the hands of some(one/thing) else and it was wildly emotional. I wondered if I’d keep it forever or if it would just evolve over time. I wondered if my muse could be a part of a collection or if I was allowed only one. I wondered if there was always some pain involved in having one and if that was the tragic beauty in its existence.
Will I keep it forever? Yes.
In a file labeled Instructions and in a sentence from a book I read some 16 months ago: “A hero without flaw is of no interest to an audience or to the universe, which, after all is based on conflict and opposition, the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.” - The Art of Racing in the Rain. This is my foundation and from there, I build.
Has it evolved over time? Yes.
Bear with my emotions today. We visited a couple times in 2012, but I saved the all the beautiful weaving of it together until now – the threads that made 2012 the year of soul-open, eyes-focused, team-centered passion. I wanted to add ‘heart-bearing’ to the list, but that would be redundant. Isn’t that just how it always is in these parts? Here’s where it all began: on a dark morning in January of last year, I set out for a run with my friend Dave. Our chats and moments of silence were none out of the ordinary, nor were the familiar pattern of breath and steps and Chicago winter biting at our ears. Though something was born that day, an idea that became one of the greatest gifts of my lifetime (so far) and set into motion a wonderful, joy-filled journey.
A run group. Nothing out of the ordinary except some specifics: it had to be free and it had to be fun. We wanted to give what we knew without expectation and create the space for people to realize their goals. That was it. Nothing more, nothing less. A little hard work and a lot of love. The rest was up to the runners. In allowing others to achieve their goals, did it allow me to achieve mine? I crushed goals, alright. But none even close to the ones I expected to accomplish. Hang tight.
Is [my muse] part of a collection or am I allowed only one? Collection.
While 2012 was about run groups and the achievements I saw come to life, it was mostly about the evolution of inspiration and how I realized that nothing is accomplished alone. My community, my people, my team. However I (or you) define success – happiness, friends, family, financial, career, health, love – those that have the most success did not achieve it alone. This is about how I realized that hiding in my insecurities, keeping powerful relationships to myself and being stingy with what I know will just not elevate me or anyone else.
Is there always pain involved in having [a muse]? Sometimes, but not really.
I have had my fair share of tears along this path of self-discovery. Mostly relating to love (self- or otherwise), with a few cry sessions about my career peppered in from time to time. But having a muse that inspires this level of emotion is beyond powerful. To breakdown and maybe breakthrough, well that is the silver lining in this “pain”.
The last time we visited, I was sitting on a lilly pad enjoying the silence of my life. There was a sense of contentment in the air. I was finally settled, in mind and body, enjoying the present at work, with friends and in life. Dave and I were slowly but surely growing our run club – we watched our runners get faster, set new personal records, form new friendships, gain confidence and most importantly, have fun.
Labor Day Boot Camp with Fast & Fit Racing:
They laughed. We laughed. It was happy. And then it was happier.
On July 24, after 4 months of leading run club everything changed. The Professor walked in the door just before 6:30. Wearing a hat, a Nashville running t-shirt and black shorts. He was tall – taller than almost everyone there. And striking, in such a way that made me nervous. I quickly shoved the feeling aside. We didn’t speak much, and the following Saturday I found myself sincerely wondering if he’d show up again. He did. After running we brunched. During brunch there was this:
The rest, as they say, is history. (For now) ;)
Running. Because there was a marathon somewhere in all this, right?
I, not unrealistically, had a goal to break 3:30:00 and set out with all my might to do so. Remember I was going to try to commit CrossFit to my training? Well, that didn’t pan out. I ended up being too tired to complete my runs and got burnt out VERY quickly, even though I thought I was being smart about it. I think CrossFit can really benefit the short to mid-distance runner but as a marathoner, it just didn’t work for me – I couldn’t replace a 20 mile run with a WOD. And so, like most strength programs I had tried up to this point, I left it behind. This year, Dave was my run coach. Coaches coaching coaches, it was so cool. We worked together to figure out what worked and what didn’t and I got so much faster. In September, I ran a 1:34:30 half marathon with my training partner, Lisa. All of our 5:15 a.m. track practices and Monday morning tempo runs helped me cut eight minutes off my previous best time.
In 2012 I loved running as much as I have always loved it, but found that there was more joy watching others love it too. A day I’ll never forget, I have goosebumps even thinking about writing this, was the Chicago Marathon on October 9, 2012. I set my phone to receive text alerts, as I stood just shy of mile 10 with my lululemon colleagues and friends. I cheered, I danced, I yelled, I kissed, I hugged, I cried. All of our runners achieved their goals – whether it was finish line-crossing or personal best-beating, they did it. That night, I remember thinking, “this is the pinnacle of my career.” That I was able to do this through my work at lululemon, was an overwhelmingly joyful feeling. Here’s a glimpse at a few other things we did for the Chicago running community:
I will be honest that through it all, I tried to keep some semblance of running for just me, but it didn’t happen.
From April 3 until October 9, 2012 I gave myself fully and happily to efforts surrounding coaching runners, being a runner and combining it all with my work at lululemon. It was incredible. Two weeks after the Chicago Marathon, it was my turn to run. But, upon first steps across the ‘Start’ line in Indiana, I had nothing left to give to marathon #18, the course or myself. I don’t say this with any bit of negativity attached. It’s odd to explain – my heart was so warm and so full but my physical body was tired, resigned, finished.
I felt crappy almost right from the start. I wanted to veer off and finish at the half, I drew upon my muse(s) and did not make that choice. I was flanked by Dave on one side and The Professor on the other. My bike-riding cheer station multiplied and became two – both mom AND dad this time! I had all the support I needed, but the race just never felt good. After the Professor split from us at mile 10 to finish the Half Marathon, I continued on with Dave. Many times I turned to him and said, “I don’t feel good. I want to walk. I’m so sorry. I can’t do this. I don’t know why.” I was confused and hurt – I put so.much. into my training, everyone else’s training, my work, my new relationship, I over-thought it all and I was unexpectedly tired!
It was okay, I had time while running to meditate on it. I realized this – while I worked so hard at achieving one goal on my list (sub 3:30 marathon) – I achieved a couple (one in particular- to have integrity and accountability with dating) that I didn’t truly believe I could actually do. As I ran, I realized how happy I was with what I was running towards instead of from. Running towards a life that I love, filled with people and relationships and friendships that complete the love I both want to give and to recieve. Somewhere in the depths of the miles that begin with the number 2, I cried, deliriously gushing to Dave about how thankful I was for our friendship, how excited I was about my relationship with the Professor and how sad I was that my running didn’t feel good. He just said, “you got this, G.” And I did. 3:32:36.
After Indianapolis I wanted a large break from running, thinking about running, coaching, getting up early, not drinking… the whole thing. I clung to my friends – The Monday’s, The Runners, The lulu’s. We laughed, we danced, we cuddled, we loved. The Professor and I had the best time – incredible dinner dates, lazy Sundays, cocktails in the afternoon, football games in South Bend, casual midday lake front runs. He met my family, joined us for Thanksgiving and was my incredibly handsome date at my sister’s NYE wedding.
My family at my sister’s wedding:
WOW what year.
You might be wondering, as I am too… how am I doing with this whole real-relationship-dance thing? I love it. It is so fresh, so new, so very much at the beginning. It’s fun, it’s scary, it’s sometimes awkward, it’s beautiful, it’s inspiring, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted – to have a love like this.
In bringing 2012 to a close, I look back on the evolution of my muse – what was once driven by perfection and the desperate need to understand, to feel, to speak, will never be forgotten – but is now part of something bigger, with more compassion, more kindness, more love and one other really awesome person in tow. Stay with us, here we go…