#18. Indianapolis, IN: “They don’t do it like my clique.”

October 20, 2012
Age: 29

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
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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.

Early mornings at the track and a little inspiration:Track Love

Bart Yasso came to run with us!
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Labor Day Boot Camp with Fast & Fit Racing:Fast and Fit Labor Day

Me + Dave:
Dave and Gina

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:

First Day
(I know, right?)

Then there were things like this:
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And this:
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And this:
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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.

Lisa and me, post-1:34:30 PR’s:
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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!

Running and not feeling that great, but obviously still smiling!
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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.

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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…

13.1 Miles: Chicago Half Marathon 2012

“Once you’ve faced your dragon, your next task is to ally with it. Don’t kill the beast, you fool, because that’s your power!

This is the archetypal hero’s quest: You’ll meet the dragons and demons and fight and fight and fight them until you finally get the treasure. Then you’ll depart that quest irrevocably changed, with that treasure a part of you. Every time you stalk your fear and choose life instead of oblivion, you’ll begin to reclaim the parts of you that have been blocked off.

When you become the hunter you create new opportunities for grace and growth.”
-from Fierce Medicine by Ana Forrest

Happy Hunting.

Female Age Group 25-29: 22/1583
Female Overall: 72/6813
Overall: 487/12,105

Channeling that Usain Bolt-style speed (well, everyone except Angus!):

Run lululemon: Chicago

My epic little training buddy. Sights on 2016:

6 weeks ’til #18!

#17. Seattle, WA: “Here is now and now is where I wanna be.”

June 23, 2012
Age: 29

Occupation: Key Leader at lululemon athletica
Residence: Chicago, IL
Time since last race: 4 months, 4 days
Conditions: 56-65 degrees, flat for the first half, some hills near the end
Official time: 03:48:53
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Wait, what’s that sound?

I’ve never heard it like this before. I can’t Google it, I can’t repeat it to anyone, I can’t find its definition or use Shazam to identify it. It’s loud in the morning and quiet at night. It’s soothing and sweet like Bon Iver and I could listen all day.

The sound is silence. I’m enjoying every note of its sweet reverie.

Complacent vs. Contentment
When things slow down and there is silence in my life, I am always reflective on my level of appreciation towards it. This usually leads me to realize I’m being complacent (re: an unsettled feeling related to not living my full potential). However this time, I have a contentment like I’ve never known before. I am content with things that I didn’t even know I could have happiness towards and that surprises me everyday. Content meaning I am totally signed up for what’s going on in my life right now: the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful function of the dysfunction.

In very recent years past, I have felt my wheels spinning so fast I can barely keep up. At this moment, I don’t necessarily feel that familiar pulsating rhythm of “do more be better,” but rather just “do” and “be.” None of this means I’ve lost passion or fire, in fact it’s the exact opposite. Where before, my fires were burning down forests and causing mass devastation, they seem to be steady, focused, effective. In what is this contentment, you wonder?

Health, Work, Life and the Seattle Marathon.

This being the last year in my twenties, I’ve somehow created the space to let all my learnings soak in and take shape. For once I’m not DYING to make changes or force things to go my way or convince myself I should be feeling a certain way when I don’t. Happy to recognize challenges and act on them. Happy to enjoy the journey without focusing too much on the destination. For once I am happy to just be.

There have been times in the last couple of months (like sitting around a table, twelve bottles of wine deep at Cafe Sushi laughing with nine of my running girlfriends) that make me want to pause life, float above it, stare at its beauty, protect and cherish each person and each moment.

Friends as Family

If you remember in February, I wasn’t quite feeling this way. I still felt lost and unsure of my footing. I do not know if I can pinpoint the moment my perspective changed, but it did. Maybe it was as simple as a choice, maybe it was something else.

Health
Let’s take a trot back and pick up where we left off after the Austin Marathon. I left out one small detail from the last recap: I ran the whole thing with a stress fracture in my right foot.

I didn’t tell anyone I was in pain that day, in fact, I kept quiet about it still for two weeks after! Once I fessed up to the pain at the beginning of March, I found myself in a walking cast with orders of no physical activity for at least two weeks and no running until pain free, however long that takes.

Silence. Watch as I dramatically crumble to the floor as if my life is over.

I didn’t run for 40 days (insert second dramatic crumble) and by the end of that, I was ready to fly down State St. with a loaded rifle and unleash on anyone in my way. It was bad. I was depressed and I could not shake it. I know, I know, 40 days is not that bad in the grand scheme of things but I didn’t like it one bit. I am a much happier person for my friends, family and especially work if I’ve released a few physically-induced endorphins each day –> shocking.

April was filled with physical therapy and a 30-day yoga challenge that left me so zen’ed out I started doing CrossFit in May. If I had to hear “Now you’re just somebody that I used to know, somebodyyy,” one more time, I swear I was going to lose it! Doing a 30-day yoga challenge has always been something that’s been a bucket list item of mine and I never quite got around to actually making it the full 30 days – except this time. Done and done, moving on to the next challenge: CrossFit.

Silence.

Wait what?! The girl who doesn’t lift weights? Who hates the way she looks when she picks up a two pound dumbbell? Who takes Julie’s weights classes and doesn’t use the weights? Yes, that girl.

Completing the yoga challenge left me thirsty for more. Thirsty for a kind of grit and hard work I’d seen depicted in CrossFit videos and caught glimpses of on TV. At the end of the day, I want to run 26.2 miles as fast as my body is physically capable of completing it and I’m willing to try any number of projects or challenges to get there. I knew that my stress fracture and subsequent plantar fasciitis were a result of a weakness in my body (likely in my hips) and the only remedy for that is to get stronger. However first, I had to get over my 2.5 year old story of, “lifting weights will make me bulky” and just go for it. Turns out, I’m not half bad at a lot of the skills and I LOVE picking up the weights, getting sweaty and pushing myself to do one more box jump or one more burpee. I had a misconception that it was all about lifting the heaviest weights possible and getting shredded to the point of gender confusion but it’s not. It’s quite beautiful, actually.

Me doing some lift I forget the name of. I’ll learn it all eventually…

I started going to CrossFit three times per week for 6 weeks leading up to the Seattle Marathon. Because of my injury, I wasn’t running a lot and I didn’t want to over do it. Between March and June I did one 15 mile run and really kept my paces slow. I gave of myself to the CrossFit experience without judgment and with an open mind. I left for Seattle still unsure of how I felt about it but somewhere in the middle of the race I found myself daydreaming about WOD‘s and noticing that my steps felt light and my hips felt strong. Here’s my promise that I will stick to it through the next race and will evaluate outcomes in October.

Better watch those times get faster!

Work
I used to desperately try to convince myself say that my work will never be who I am, it will always be what I do. I think that was my early 20-something year old way of saying, “I’ll never find passion in my job, it will always be a chore, it will always just be a means to an end.” I tried three different careers I was only slightly interested in because I thought that slight interest could mean full interest if I just worked hard enough. If I just kept trying. Wow have things changed.

When I gave in to myself and recognized that, 1. I can’t hide my passions and 2. they end up taking over every time, I was able to sit and enjoy the silence that comes from not fighting with myself over what I think I “should” be doing and just keep doing what feels right. I sort of feel like around March or April, someone took my shoulders, turned me in the right direction and pushed me forward saying, “now, go this way.” Lindsey? Shenna? Hill? Jacki? Dad? Was it you? Did I do it to myself? Whomever the instigator, I am grateful for everything but mostly the support. Because of this, nine times out of ten I walk to work with such happy anticipation I think something might be wrong with me. I get to wear yoga and running clothes and talk about people development and hang out with athletes and help people live happier more fun lives. Not just sometimes, every single day. EVERYDAY! It’s a contentment I had always hoped existed but wasn’t sure of until now.

I work with these people everyday. It is nothing short of awesome:

Life and the Seattle Marathon

I was about as laid back about this one as I could get. I broke so many of my cardinal rules when it comes to preparation:

  • I didn’t bring any race nutrition/gels with me.
  • I ate fried oysters for lunch and thai food for dinner the night before the race.
  • I tried a gel I have never used before because I couldn’t find the brand I liked.
  • I didn’t have coffee in the morning.
  • I didn’t run for a week before the race and did bikram instead of a shakeout run.

It’s not that I didn’t care, it’s just that it’s mentally exhausting all the time to be so overly prepared and regimented. I wanted to go to Seattle and have fun with my sister (and her fiancé who live there) – check off a list of restaurants I had to try, do fun touristy things, bike around the city, eat Molly Moo’s ice cream and take my picture in front of Pike Place Market while standing in the rain. I just didn’t want to put emphasis on the race.

Bike ride with sister, stop at Gas Works Park:

Pike Place Market in the rain:

Dan and Alicia on top of the Space Needle:

Screw the shakeout run, I’m goin’ to Bikram!

Always a joy, these packet pick-ups. #17 here I am!

Then it was race morning and I was so nervous! You would think after 17 of these I would know what I am getting into. It was emotional driving to the start and walking amidst the other runners. Seeing the Space Needle, taking in my surroundings and questioning whether or not I had paid enough respect to the training time leading up to this race. I spent the first three miles scolding myself. “You didn’t do enough. You didn’t do enough long runs. You didn’t pay enough attention to your diet. Your foot isn’t really healed. You’re not going to feel good later.”

And suddenly, silence.

I hadn’t started up my music yet so when I finally shut up I was able to listen to what filled the silence: “You broke your foot, didn’t run for 40 days, completed a 30-day yoga challenge and did six weeks of CrossFit. You’re prepared, dammit.”

I know I smiled because I remember the feeling. I remember the moment, I remember what I did next: Grabbed my iPhone, put on the Lil Wayne Pandora station and partied on through the remaining 23.2 miles. You can see it on my face in every picture my sister took of me along the course that day. Appreciation. Perseverance. Contentment.

Running around Seward Park, an out and back over I-90 and crisscrossing around downtown Seattle near the professional sporting arenas were definitely highlights of this race. So were the Honey Stinger gels I tried and the surges of energy I continued to get, especially after mile 20. I wasn’t even mad I had to stop and take a bathroom break at mile 23. Last night’s dinner from Thai Toms = worth it!

I crossed the finish line and I was content.

#Proof:

Dan, me and Alicia:

Proud of my performance, happy with how I felt and oh SO ready for my burger and a beer. I showered, ate and flew back to Chicago so that I could do and write about this:

Then run, coach and talk with him:

Then relax, reflect, rejoice with them:

And now, I have no more words. It’s just silent. In my head and in my heart it’s silent. I would be naive to think it will stay this way, in fact I both know and hope that it doesn’t. So I will see the beauty in this silence. I think I will sit here and I will listen all day.