I’ll Never Sink When You Are With Me

I’ve been begging myself to write about grief, hoping it would somehow bring closure. Yet I can’t wrap my thoughts around the pain well enough to understand or explain. It’s empty, it’s vibrant, it’s breathtaking.

The emotion of grief is so consuming, it completely takes you over. And that’s not necessarily in the form of sorrow or sadness, not always. It will fill you in ways you didn’t expect.

Recognizing the love for a life lost is inexplicable. Your memories wrap their memory in an embrace, and you can almost feel them. Here. It’s calming and chilling. It will make you weak and give you unbelievable strength. It will drive you and stop you in your tracks. It completely absorbs you in every possible way. You grieve for what you’ve lost and yet you celebrate what you had.

I’m not one for letting go. Especially when it’s not on my terms. And as time wages on, the more I’m left longing for what I’ve lost.

Never Asking for Perfection

I spent an entire marathon training season saying this year’s Top of Michigan Marathon would be my last full marathon. It’s such a time commitment and it is far too easy to get distracted. But, somewhere along the trail, I realized why I was driven to register in the first place. And when I crossed the finish line I was overcome with emotion.

For me, running is hard. I’ve wondered if I have some sort of exercise-induced asthma because it’s so difficult for me to breath. And both of my lungs collapsed in a traumatic accident, which may also be a factor. But, until a few years ago, I was not a runner. Today, I run 3-5 times weekly—usually training for my next race.

Why run

If I ever take time off from running, I can feel it. A few days, and my mood turns depressed. My body gets stiff and I start to ache. I’m tense and irritable. So I’ve become addicted to the adrenaline boost. A quick run can turn a bad day good. It washes away the stress of a long day at work, gives me a chance to think through issues and inspires me.

But running a marathon is hard. Those 26.2 miles are no joke and if you don’t train properly you risk injury and failure (something I don’t cope well with). So when I had to quit before I even hit the halfway mark at last year’s race, I was disappointed. I wasn’t surprised. I hadn’t taken my training seriously, the weather was hot and humid, my water supply was limited and I was just not prepared. When 2019 race registration opened, I signed up determined.

Marathon training

My training kicked off with a new, aggressive routine. I was logging 10-mile runs in the first month and incorporated speed and strength workouts into my program. But, with a month and a half to go, I got derailed. Travel plans, long hours at work and a lack of prioritization put me behind schedule. My first 16 miler was cut short by bad weather and stomach discomfort. I walked the last 4 miles of a 14-mile run instead. I was defeated and considered transferring to the race’s half marathon instead.

A few weeks later I finally logged that 16 miler and I felt great. Throughout my training, I never took more than two days off, but I hadn’t been hitting my mileage. So, I was determined to finish strong—and I did.

Race day

The morning of the race, I was unsure, but I knew my body was strong. At mile 10 I was keeping my pace. I passed the spot I broke down last year when I called my husband and told him I couldn’t finish. I continued running beyond the halfway point, pacing ahead of my time from the 2017 Chicago Marathon.

I reached mile 16 and realized how much better I felt than during my long training runs. At mile 18 I pushed on knowing this was as far as my training would take me. By mile 21, I realized I was going to finish.

This year, I knew my body and I was prepared. The course increased the number of aid stations and I made sure to utilize the resources. My husband refilled my water belt along the course and I maintained my fuel routine. I came out strong and steady, but even as I dropped off I was pacing to finish by my goal time.

At mile 25, I felt invigorated. I crossed the finish line knowing I’d logged a personal best. I sobbed to my husband, “I finished.”

Running is hard for me. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breath. I have to take deep breaths to remind my lungs to fill with air. I focus on my breathing a lot. But I can run, so I do.

Time May Change Me, But You Can’t Trace Time

Sometimes we make mistakes. If we learn from them, that’s supposed to make it OK. But sometimes there’s no coming back from a mistake.

This weekend, my once best friend got married. I wasn’t there. She didn’t even tell me she was engaged. We’ve not spoken in two-and-a-half years. People who are close to me who don’t understand why I can’t make things right have kept me in the loop, and now I’m here realizing it’s a good thing I wasn’t a part of her big day.

Toward the end of our friendship, I became selfish. I took on a mean girls mentality, and somewhere along the way stopped being kind. I started putting myself first and asking why she was never attentive to my needs. I took years of feeling like I was her support without any reciprication and let that fester and explode. Our friendship imploded.

In the days, weeks, months after, maybe I could have mended things. But I was far too proud to admit any wrong doing and I became angry. The longer I sat with my anger, the more I convinced myself I was better off.

And now, I’m mostly just sad. And it hurts.

It feels like it’s been too long to still grieve our friendship, but I think that comes from having regrets.

Today I Missed My Workout

Christmas morning seems like as good a time as any to reflect. Especially when it’s 6 a.m., you’ve been up for two hours and you’re at your in-laws trying not to wake anyone.

Whole 30

2018 has been a full year. I kicked it off with the Whole 30 program, a diet meant to help you learn more about the foods you eat and how they affect your body. I was proud, and surprised, when I hit the 30-day mark cheat-free and feeling good. As an avid cook, meal prep was something I looked forward to, even if it meant no booze, sugar, carbs and a whole lot of other stuff.

Running

From there, I jumped into training for my second full marathon. Looking back on my training program, I don’t quite remember where I fell off. I know I hit my 18-mile run and missed the 20 miler. But I did a lot on the treadmill, big mistake.

Race day, Memorial weekend, was hot and humid AF. The Top of Michigan Marathon starts in Charlevoix and ends in Harbor Springs, hitting Petoskey along the way. And, unlike the Chicago Marathon, the course is slim. There were maybe 100 marathoners and even fewer supporters along the course.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish the race. At the halfway mark, I called it quits. The night before, my CamelBak broke and I wasn’t able to carry enough water to stay hydrated in the heat (water stations were limited and some even ran out of cold water). The humidity made it difficult to breathe and the lack of crowd support killed my motivation. Don’t worry though, I signed up for the 2019 race and plan to kick its ass.

Home

The summer was consumed with our new house. We moved in in April and I literally never wanted to leave. From unpacking to decorating to yardwork, it kept us busy. While we still haven’t finished hanging our decor, we did just furnish the third bedroom.

I’m in love with our home, and I think the rest of the family is, too.

Friends and family

We spent time celebrating some of our closest friends throughout the year. Weddings, babies, engagements, big moves and new homes. Even our niece’s first birthday.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what I’ve lost on here. It’s part of the purpose for my blog—coping, healing and remembering. But 2018 has shown me how lucky I am for what and who I have in my life.

SuperSprint

Training for my first triathlon also kept me busy this summer. Part of the Chicago Triathlon series, the SuperSprint is awesome for first-timers. Event weekend takes place at the end of August and the course is manageable.

Swim, bike, run. That’s the basics of a tri. The atmosphere was electric and the participants were incredible. So much support and inspiration. While not as physically difficult as a marathon, a triathlon is more mentally taxing.

This is another race I’ve already signed up for in 2019. This year, my goal was to finish. Next year, I’m keeping time. My hope is to one day complete a full triathlon. Until then, I’ll be working on my open-water swimming.

Work, work, work

The end of the year has kind of been swept up with work. Professionally, I’ve been given a number of opportunities to grow and advance, all of which I’ve embraced with open arms. For the first time in a few years, I’m not only satisfied at work but excited for the future.

Personally, I’ve been focusing on my beer blog. The focus the past two months has been on social media, but I’m planning for a 2019 relaunch of the blog. Until then, check us out on Instagram: @chibeerclub.

To help expand my reach, network and knowledge, I joined PorchDrinking as a copy editor and social media coordinator. I’ve only been working with the team for a couple of weeks, but it’s been a positive experience so far.

2019 and beyond

I think 2019 will look a lot like this year, only refined. I’ve learned so much and have so many things I want to accomplish next year. More travel. More learning. More growing.

Dear [Baby],

I originally wrote this post about six months ago, but decided to hold off on posting it at this time.


You are precious. Your life has just begun and you have a lifetime of moments ahead of you. And my wish for you is that you get to experience every single one of those seconds. The joyous, the painful, the thrilling, the terrifying, the precious, the bittersweet – all of the good and all of the bad. Take in and savor each and every emotion. Hold on to those memories. Because the adventure ahead is just beginning and you’ll need all that you know, all that you’ve learned to make your journey your own.

When you’re young, the years fly past. Summers seem endless until the snow falls, and before you know it you forget to remember the last browned leave hanging from a tree. And they say that as you get older time seems to move faster with each passing year, but I disagree. I think we stop savoring the moments and truly living each experience that passes us by.

No longer do we whiff the scent of a fresh cut blade of grass as the spring’s rains subside. The first flakes of winter loose their glittery charm. Instead, we’re always ready and waiting for the next big thing – even if it’s happening, right then.

So do grow up, do grow old. But while you do: Live. Experience life.

We’re Goin’ to Better Places

If you’d asked me two years ago where I thought I’d be today, well I honestly wouldn’t have been able to reply. Not for a few days anyways, and even then, my response may have come out in the form of a singed alphabet.

I’ve wanted to write of the events on October 6, 2011, for awhile now, and well I still may not be ready to share all the intimate details, there’s a lot to be said. Many in my family would rather not hear it, as it’s a topic that makes both them and me uncomfortable at times. And, when it is discussed, it’s done so with a sort of sadness, distance and caution.

For those of you who don’t know, which is many, two years ago to this date, I was struck on my bike by a large delivery truck while en route to work. It looked something like this:

(No, it’s not the actual truck.}

So, anyways, I was struck while on my bicycle, riding in a bike lane in downtown Chicago. I flew off of my bike and was then partially run over. I point out partially because had I been flat out run over, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

My first thought was, Today’s going to suck at work. Of course, I did not make it in, and wouldn’t for another 3.5 months.

That’s the end of the accident portion of this post, it’s the easy part to say. The recovery, fear and fight that took place after, that’s where it gets messy. All in all, thanks to this man, I’m here.

Not the best quality, but this is the only photo I have of Dr. Shapiro.

In the last two years, a lot has happened. I went back to my position at the Chicago Tribune in mid-January of 2012, got a promotion seven months later and was laid off by the end of January. Luckily, I snatched up a writing position in February and have since been promoted within a great company. So career wise, I feel pretty good about how far I’ve come, and I’m much better off than I was two years ago.

Friends, friends  have come and gone over this time. One of my closest, who actually held my hand during the quick ambulance trip, and I have gone our separate ways. Which, for a time, was hard to swallow, but I have since come to appreciate the fact that he was there when he was – when needed the most. In a number of other friendships, the bonds were strengthened. Most specifically, this nerd:

Na na na na na.

My family has always been close, so I won’t say that those relationships were tightened at all. Especially when it comes to myself, my mom and my brother – although I think something changed there, I can’t quite put my finger on it.

I’ve heard your life changes when you have a near-death experience, but I don’t think that’s true. Some small things about me have changed, but I’m still the same clumsy goofball I always was. I have less patience for complaints about unwarranted issues and more compassion for others. My spleen was removed, I’ve got scars to carry with me for life and struggle with anxiety in certain situations, but I was always a little neurotic. But still, I’m me, I haven’t really changed.

There’s a part of me that wants to go out, explore and change the world, and maybe some day I will. For now, I’m just living and figuring out the usual issues of a 27-year-old woman.