Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On Being Grateful

We just booked a trip to England and France at the end of June. I have never left the country before and I've always always fantasized about doing something like running through the English countryside and visiting the Tower of London. (The place Anne Boleyn was imprisoned and finally beheaded. I have a thing for English monarchs and scandal. What can I say?) The fact that we are bringing the girls with on this trip and they will get to experience such places at 8 and 11 years old kind of blows my mind.

I guess what I'm feeling is that I'm grateful to be able to do such things in my life. This summer Jason and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary and thinking back to 1997 it seems unfathomable that we would be in the place that we are now. Yes, we fully intended to still be together but back then I was used to a life in our Chicago apartment that we paid for with our student loan checks. I remember things like counting out all the money in my change jar so I could get on the bus to class, or sitting in the dark for hours because we blew a fuse and only the landlord was allowed the key to the basement to turn the lights back on. When Juliana was a few months old I have this memory of having to leave a full cart of groceries at the store because my credit card was declined. I picked her up out of the seat and bolted out the door, completely embarrassed.

We have been lucky in many ways to be in the position we are now. Things have been not-so-lucky too. We were able to buy our first home because my mom died and left me enough money that we could use for a down payment. If I could go back and live in that third floor walk up in Chicago with no lights and have her back would I do it? Without question. Does it mess with my mind a little bit sometimes? Indeed.

Jason has also been incredibly lucky in his career. But it's also more than just luck- he is pretty brilliant. Did I know this when I married a 19-year-old photography major? Of course I thought he was smart, creative and funny. I was also fully prepared to count out quarters from the change jar to buy Ramen noodles and take the bus wherever we needed to go indefinitely. I never thought about where we might be in 2012. (When we first got married, we didn't even think we'd ever have kids! Um.. oops.)

So this is me sitting here feeling overwhelmed with gratitude and frankly humbled by what I have in my life. Having a wonderful husband and two lovely daughters that are healthy and happy would be enough for me, but the fact that we get to share such incredible adventures together in this life has my head spinning.

Here's to 1997, two college kids getting hitched, and the great unknown.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

John Dick 50K: Birthday Party in the Woods

I had to let last Saturday's race marinate in my brain for a while. I feel weird calling it a "race" because it was more like a "7 1/2 hour party in the woods." Oh, and there was running. But that kind of seems besides the point.

Bear with me.

I like how I'm now at the point with my running that I'm able to slip in and out of competitive mode with ease. Some races I train for with a specific time goal in mind. It's like I'm a woman on a mission and I can't see anything else but what I want to achieve. But then there are days like these when a good friend says, "Hey I want to run 30 miles for my 30th birthday. Want to join me?" And suddenly it's more about doing something awesome with awesome people rather than beating some previous best.

I have to admit when I first signed on to do this race I wasn't even sure if I would complete the whole distance. Not that 50K is too far for me anymore, but HOLY MOLY THIS RACE IS IN FEBRUARY. Last year it took place on the weekend of the biggest snowstorm of the year and lot of runners just got in as many miles as they could before it became too ridiculous. I kinda-sorta thought that the first weekend in February this year would be similar. Maybe not an epic snowstorm, but certainly at least SOME kind of unfavorable conditions. So when the week of the race the temperatures started climbing into the upper 30s and 4os I thought to myself. "Huh. I guess I'm running all 50K. How about that."
The group of us took every last minute of the allotted time to complete the course and we pretty much made it a party in every sense. We took our sweet time, we laughed, cheered and shouted for the other (faster) runners on the course, and we spent tons of time at the aid stations chatting up the volunteers and eating all the wonderful junk food. (One of the perks of burning over 3000 calories in a day.) At the finish line we all linked arms with Birthday Girl Krista in the middle and proceded to don party hats and drink beer. I know it sounds absurd to most people, but I really can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday in February in Wisconsin.

When I step back and think about it, the whole thing sounds absurd to me too. But I'm ok with that.