Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Making Sense of Things and Searching for Mojo

It's been awhile since I've blogged, and mostly it's been intentional. I haven't had the energy to do much lately, least of all try to work out what's been going on in my own head, so getting it out in paragraph form online was about the last thing on my to-do list. I'm still trying to figure things out, and I know it'll be awhile until I feel 2019 level happy while running down the streets or flying through the air on a bike. Logically, I know I need to keep going, and this is me trying to do so, but in reality I feel like I'm going through the motions and that's it.

The pandemic I could handle, and staying off Facebook for the most part helped a lot with that. Sure, it began making me stir crazy, and eventually there were a few full on FOMO cringy crying spells when I saw how many people were already racing and going about life, but I can handle that feeling, or I thought I knew how. I began throwing myself more than ever into running, etc., and after a few months of that I developed an IT band issue with my left knee. I had no choice but to RICE it- rest, ice, compression, elevation. It didn't help the stir crazy feelings in the slightest, but I'm no stranger to re-starting training at a later time, so I did my best to get through it. Luckily, I'm happy to report that my knee feels almost back to 100%, and next time I'll be sure to foam roll after each run. Lesson learned.

Through it all, I talked to one of my close friends, Conor, about it, and talking about it seemed to keep us both moving forward and full of hope. We chatted most days, actually nearly everyday for the past 3 years. At the time I met him, he was well on his way to finishing his goal of running 100 marathons. He loved traveling and running and had friends everywhere. He had a great sense of humor and a love of adventure; he even climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro! He ran ultra-marathons and half marathons and 10ks and 5ks and whatever else ks you could throw at him. Most of all, he was a great person and friend. Sometimes people who have been running for awhile can condescendingly say things like, "It's ONLY 3.1 miles." to a newbie. No matter how many miles Conor ran or where his adventures took him, he always remained so down to earth and humble. He dedicated his time to helping a group of new runners get started, and always had encouraging words to help them along. He was never a one-upper, and he was always genuinely happy for other's accomplishments as much as his own. He was a sweet, kind person that anyone would be happy to know. My boyfriend and I were going to plan a trip to see him as soon as the mess 2020 threw at us all was over.

Two weeks ago, Conor took his life as a result of the pandemic. The world is a lot less colorful without him in it. I wish he would have reached out for help, but the logical part of me knows that's not how depression works. Depression doesn't care how much you love your family and friends, or how much they love you, it's chemical and requires help. I constantly find myself thinking one thing, and then correcting myself right after that. I wish he hadn't chosen to leave us all, but maybe finding his love of running gave him time he wouldn't normally have had. Maybe I would never have met him and been lucky enough to have known him. Regardless of his leaving too soon, he found his true passion and lived it to the fullest, something that many people don't experience, even if they live to be 100. There are times I want to get mad at him for doing what he did, but I can't be mad when I think of the pain he must have been going through. He left me a song, and I'll never be able to talk to him again, but I would never take back knowing him for an instant, even for as sad as I still am. The pandemic takes victims who don't have the virus, and often they aren't counted when they need to be. I am thankful to know some of Conor's friends and family, and they are wonderful people. My heart goes out to them during this time.

Besides dragging myself to the track like a zombie, and even having a mini melt down and leaving one day right before a race, I haven't had much desire to do anything else. Sometimes I go for walks around the neighborhood; I listen to the birds and give the flowers, rabbits and bugs a closer look. Sometimes quiet is good when you're trying to make sense of your own thoughts. Ultimately, I know Conor would be encouraging his friends and family to be their best and try their hardest, so to honor Conor's life and memory, and to make him proud, I am going to try my best to do just that. I'm going to try hard for him to get my motivation and happiness back, starting with a race this weekend. I had the best intentions of racing tonight but I just can’t. I'm not quite there yet, but I have to start somewhere. Conor, thank you for your friendship, your time, your encouragement and for giving me confidence. You touched so many lives and are sorely missed. I'll never forget you.

Conor Cusack
10/22/71 - 6/13/20

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

When One Door Closes...

Well, it's official. Wah wahhh. 😢 We got an email this morning from the Big Sur Foundation letting us know that the marathon is officially cancelled for 2020. While we're both super bummed, it's understandable considering all that has been going on lately. We do get 60% of our entry fee refunded though, which is SUPER cool on Big Sur's part, because they really don't have to refund us at all. We are also going to run it next year, given that all is good. The door might be closed on our marathon this year but that's okay, I'll keep running. 👍

About 5 minutes after receiving that news, the doorbell rang and it was FedEx! My BMX gate came in the mail! After checking the tracking yesterday, I learned that it cleared customs and made it into the U.S., but I was really surprised when it arrived today! I literally did a little happy dance at the door when I saw it! We got it set up and tested out in the house, and I can't wait to run some gates on it outside this weekend while everyone's in Oklahoma. I also got to have my first practice since January's national yesterday, so I'm really happy. I've been missing that track time. 💓

My gate all set up and ready to roll! 

1st practice of the year at Blue Springs BMX, 6/2/20. It was really nice to have a bit of normalcy again.

Me and my teammate C, he's super fast and will be giving his competition a run for their money!
Testing out my bike on the track for the 1st time. The "Easter Bunny" did good.

Playing around with gearing for the first time in a few years. The jury's still out but I'll keep this one on for a while.

I can't wait for my next practice this Friday!

That said, one door closes and a window opens. 😎😄

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Don't Be Silent

These last few days have been crazy. The peaceful protests at the plaza seem to have led to rioting and attempts at looting. We live about 3 miles away and been watching coverage live, and have also heard that cops were shooting the peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas. Trump shut down the White House and went into hiding, only to borrow someone's bible and pose in front of a church full of graffiti, some type of deranged marketing on his part. It's not the time for us to remain silent; with the injustices in the world our voices hold more weight together. I love the quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world", and I want to live up to the idealism of that sentiment.

I've had a lot of extra time these last 4 days, since I'm currently healing up from an overuse injury to my knee (I plan to see how it feels after an hour of training tonight). It's healing up fine, and I've used my free time to think about how I can be the change I wish to see. Over the years, I believe my biggest fault in not affecting change is being too quiet. I was raised in a household that valued silence and not being too loud, and when given the opportunity to voice my opinion in the real world, I choked. Part of me was afraid that in voicing my own opinion I would be accused of not respecting others' opinions. Part of me was afraid of being verbally (or physically) attacked for doing so. Also, part of me was afraid that I would lose friends.

I've grown up a bit since then, and since that time I've realized that 1.) I am not disrespecting others by making my voice count, 2.) I'm not afraid to defend my voice; I don't control others actions but I can control my own reaction, and 3.) so what if I lose those so called friends?? I really don't want to pretend to be friends with someone who holds racist beliefs. Silence doesn't protect us.


On a side note, while I was an undergrad, someone in college who whispered an unsolicited racist comment in my ear in the voting line several years ago during the Obama election is now peppering her own Facebook with Black Lives Matter posts. I hope for her own sake she has truly changed her opinion and that it's real. When she made that comment to me it destroyed our friendship, but I do want to believe people can change. It was also later, on a different campus, that I learned to take a stand. During a lecture, a professor made a comment about "sounding black". I raised my hand, stood up in front of a diverse group of my peers, and challenged him, my voice shaky at first but becoming stronger. It was the first time I felt like I HAD a voice. The encouraging faces of my peers gave me support, but their silence also made me realize that I wasn't the only one who once equated silence with safety.

I like to focus on my training and my workouts because that is what de-stresses me and makes me feel like I'm doing something productive. It allows me to de-clutter my thoughts and to think about the world around me. Recently, and in a day or two when I am able to pick back up on those workouts, I want to channel those thoughts into how I can affect change. I want to truly understand the struggles the black community goes through on a daily basis. Understanding generalities isn't enough.


I recognize that I have white privilege, and while I try to gain insight, I don't truly know what it's like to live a life without that privilege. I don't know what it's like to walk in the shoes of a black American, or to worry about being racially profiled simply for walking down the street or cashing a check. Regardless, my eyes are open, and my eyes have been open for years. I've had white friends I've known over time make racist comments to me. Years into knowing them, they open their mouth and one dribbles out; they mistakenly assumed that since I'm white, I must hold those same beliefs. (If anyone wonders, I never remained friends with them after that.) I'm going to use my voice for good. I am NOT going to argue with any negative comments here or anywhere else on my social media, those will be blocked. I am, however, open to discussing and more fully understanding others experiences and lives.