Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In a Van, Down by the River

I just spent 30 hours in a van with five amazing people just so we could watch and cheer for about 2500 ridiculous athletes as they completed IronMan Arizona. The trip was long, but the miles flew by fairly painlessly, as the company was splendid, the laughs were many, and we knew the reason for the trip was monumental and inspiring and not to be missed.

I don't want to spend a lot of time talking about it with words. Instead, I'd like to share my top photographs of the weekend, the images that attempt to capture the spirit of the event and the athletes and the thousands of friends and family supporting their athletes. Words like "inspiring," "awesome," "incredible" and such get thrown around a lot in describing an event like this, but I have to tell you, until you see it in person, you can't understand how words like that fall short.

Without further delay, IMAZ 2012 in photos.

West Texas sunrise, from the van window. 
Pit stop somewhere between here and there. Hard to remember. Never to be forgotten. 
Ritas for lunch? Why, yes, that sounds lovely. 
Residents of the Frunner Compound before a morning run through the desert. 
Shoes, Shoes, Shoes!! 
Surprise!! So hard keeping a mystery passenger a secret. So worth it to have pulled it off!
Pre-race excitment. 
At the start. Such a powerful scene. 
Lead swimmer and escort. 
Never let it be said we don't bring the cheer!
Swim done. Time to bike. Such determination! 

Team Drum
Small breather on a tough day. Rocked his first IM. 
All smiles with 10 miles to go.
With Joy in Her Heart. Beautiful and strong. 
Aid Station. There were more volunteers than athletes. 
Finishing the race was not the best thing that happened to him this day. She said "Yes!"
You are an Ironman! 
Amazing group of people. Amazing weekend. So lucky to have been a part of it. Can't wait for the next one. 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Friday Five: The Belated Birthday Edition

Hey!! What up?! Yeah, I know. Lots going on and yet not much to report. Life is a challenge right now, but I'm also managing to have buckets of fun here and there. So, what's been going on around here since we last chatted? Besides getting a year older?  Hmmm.....

Hey, Diamond DAWLSSSSSS!!! 
1) Well, this for one. I spent a lot of time (no, really, a LOT of time) at the Ballpark with these girls, wearing high socks and customized shirts, soaking in the sunshine and cheering on the Rangers. Twas a ton of fun. Would have been more fun if, you know, they'd have WON just one more game. Just one.  That's all we asked. But, alas they fell short, ending my baseball season prematurely, and leaving me with a sad little broken sports heart.  There's not even any hockey to replace it. Sads.

Like the USPS, not even rain could keep us from our baseball boys!
I'm serious, y'all. I spent a LOT of time at the park. Not a much better way to spend a summer evening than in the stands ogling watching hot baseball boys skilled athletes play a game that you love. For reals. 

2) I *am* running. I'm not logging it on Daily Mile or even *gasp* keeping it on a spreadsheet.  I have no way to tell you how many miles I've done this week, this month or this year. This is new for me. I usually could tell you all that stuff, along with paces, weekly averages, monthly totals, etc., etc., Nope, not this year. I'm running when I feel like it, and sometimes (looks around conspiratorially) I even WALK! I realized not too long after the triathlon and HHH that I was not going to make this arbitrary goal that I had set for myself a few months ago when I started the Run Less Run Faster plan, because of time I'd taken off for vacation, work, life.  And whereas I would've gotten all tied up in knots over that a few months ago, suddenly, coming to that realization was okay with me. 

Some runners need goals in front of them to keep them challenged. Some runners have lists of races that they are frantically trying to check off. I used to be one of those, I think. I had so much to prove. But I don't have that now. And I'm more than okay with that. Races will be there. But running and trying to hit certain paces and make certain mileage goals had become one more thing on an already overwhelming To Do list, and I was beginning to dread the thing that I used to love. So I backed off. Does that make me less of a runner? Maybe.  Do I care? No, not really. There are seasons for all things, and right now, this is a season for me to step back from "competing" and comparing myself to others, to previous versions of myself even, and to do what feels right and brings me joy. 

Goofy as all get out, yes. But, damn, I had fun that day!
3) This right here? THIS brought me joy. Driving six hours, camping in frigid weather with coyotes howling in the not-so-far distance, running through a landscape that looked like Mars, and laughing and hanging out with friends all brought me joy when I went to the Palo Duro Canyon trail race in mid-October.  I almost didn't go. Work was insane (but it almost always is) and it was starting to feel like one more thing I HAD to do. Thankfully, I realized that I needed the trip to recharge and refresh and rejuvenate my spirit. I got to run the whole distance with my buddy Julie, aka Peppermint Patty, and we ran some, we walked some, we chatted, we laughed, we stopped to take pictures. It was so easy going and fun, yet challenging and rewarding when we crossed the finish line together.

This year was such a different experience from last year's race.  Last year, I was still trying to hard to prove myself and to get out of a really bad headspace. Long drives are good for heartfelt conversations with buddies, I tell you what. But I was so beaten down by having to DNF that I didn't really appreciate the beauty of the canyon and the camaraderie of my companions as I should have. But I did this year. Doing the "fun run" race distance made all the difference. I was able to enjoy my run, and still have energy and excitement to cheer on my friends and other runners, and had energy to hang out with our campsite neighbors afterward and soak in the clear night sky and campfire. Good times, y'all, good times. 

So hard to get a casual shot of them in the same space these days. 
4) These guys. The one is fixing to fly the coop. Senior year. Not sure when that happened.  But he will be gone soon, and there is a lot to be done before he graduates and moves off to college. He's got his schools narrowed down to a couple of top choices and a couple of backups.  He knows what he wants his major to be, different from what it was just a couple of months ago. He is finalizing essays and applications and scholarship forms and all that, and it's exciting and terrifying and exhausting all at the same time. There's still hockey and Scouts (wrapping up the Eagle project, tick tock) and drama and performances and so much to do and time is zipping by, and wasn't he a tiny baby screaming his head off in my arms just yesterday?? Senior year, y'all. Wow. 

And the other one, coming into his own in 6th grade this year. Taking theater classes, too, and becoming even more of a nerdlet than we ever thought, but in a great way. He's clever and voraciously reading everything he puts his hands on. He even went to his first junior high dance before Halloween. Dang. Time flies. But that's what happens when you turn 12, like he did a couple of weeks ago. You go to dances and such. Oy. 

So, yeah, I'm making sure to not blink so I don't miss a thing. These man-children, they won't be around forever. Races will come and go, but I'll never get another chance for these times with these boys. You better believe I'm enjoying every second (when I'm not exasperated by them, one or both!)

FIGJAM. #thatisall
My girls, minus the Beths & Alicia, celebrating October birthdays. My rocks. 
It was cold. These people came from all over FW-D for a birthday trail run. For ME! LOVE! 
5) My peoples. A never-ending source of inspiration, comfort, motivation and good cheer. I'm still not sure what I've done to deserve such a strong and amazing group of friends, but I continue to be in a constant state of awe at their collective and individual drive, determination and progress as athletes and as individuals. I've been so pleased to be able to cheer them in person and from afar as they tackle new race distances, reach for tough goals and just push themselves to be better, stronger, faster in everything they do. And it's not just about athleticism, either. Each of these people faces unique challenges and juggles their own competing priorities, and yet, we have built this great support system for each other. We encourage and root for each other in all that we do, whether we are doing a 5k, an IronMan, interviewing for a new job or just trying to make it through the day. It's a great thing, and I'm so pleased to be a part of it. There just are no words to explain what we've built here and no way to express my continuing feeling of undeservedness at being a part of it.