Thursday, October 30, 2014

The double life of a runner and mom

Happy almost Halloween to everyone!  I both dread and look forward to the mounds of candy my kids will be collecting and trying to hide from me.  I am counting on an abundance of Twix, 100 grands, Almond Joys and Snickers to keep me fueled until the big race on November 22nd.  I am referring, of course, to the JFK 50 mile race in Maryland that I will be running with Sondra.

Training has been really, really good.  I can hardly believe the race is just about three weeks away.  As part of my training, I am running the Indianapolis Marathon on Saturday and running the Mason half marathon on Sunday.  These back to back long runs are supposed to be nice and slow and easy.  But I plan to make Monumental a hard training run.  I think my body can take the pace and much as I told myself I would not really taper, I really have this week.  By hard training run pace, I mean around an 8:35 avg.  Or more like an 8:25 since everyone knows marathons are never really 26.2, but much, MUCH farther (at least after running that long it seems like one step past the 26.2 is running forever!).  The one thing I haven't really done this week is carb load as recommended.  I have my reasons.  Once I carb load, it mentally becomes a RACE.  It is now an attempt at a BQ and not just a hard training run.  If you've followed this blog, you really know that doesn't work for me.  I know it doesn't make sense.  I know it isn't logical.  But again, I can't change that part of my mind anymore than I can change my eye color.  If it is a workout…and a hard one at that… I may be able to pull off that pace for that distance.  I also have to understand not carb loading could ultimately be my downfall. It is a risk I'm willing to take given the number of times I've carb loaded and fallen short.  Don't get me wrong… I don't think I can run on empty.  I'm eating carbs and will absolutely have a hearty, carbohydrate laden breakfast on Saturday, I'm just not doing the traditional make yourself sick type of carb loading.  This is going to drive my running friends nuts since Suttan told me, she'd really like this off her back…or in other words, "Get you damn BQ already so we can stop hearing about it!!!"  Ok, no she didn't say that.  But it was funny how she worded it in regard to this particular marathon.  I know that they would all like to see me achieve this long time goal.  They are super sweet like that.  I do, however, have to remind them (and myself) that this race is not my goal.   My goal was, and still is, a PR in the 50 mile distance.  Some years magical things happen and everything clicks and every race is wonderful.  Some years everything is bad, injury happens and/or all races are bad ones.  I have had an injury free and pretty strong training cycle.  I feel good and am hopeful Saturday will be a good day.  But if it isn't, that is very ok and there will be no upset or tears (maybe from Suttan, but not from me :).  I still get a medal and I still get one heck of a nice long training run in.  My race has still yet to come and that is where I am determined to stay focused (as I sit here antsy and semi-tapered from lack of running this week…).

My non-running life has been quite a ride.  If it were not for the loving arms of God, I'm telling you, I'd be in a corner sucking my thumb and rocking.  We moved at the beginning of October and our other house is on the market.  This alone makes for some busy days of trying to settle in our new house and trying to maintain the other one to sell.  My mind is so cluttered with tasks that, well, I forgot to pay the water bill at our "old" house and when I went over there to spruce up the other day, I discovered the water had actually been shut off.  Oh shit!  So down I go to pay the utility bill and request my water be turned back on.  Of course, there is a line behind me and I get those sympathetic looks of "Sure, lady… whatever…" as I explain that I really just did forget.  Always a fun and embarrassing way to start the day.

What has really occupied head space over the last couple of weeks, is my sweet 11 year old, Jack.  Well over a year ago, I wrote about Jack, who has ADHD.  I think I discussed how we were trying to go the wall keeping him unmedicated and making changes in his diet as well as putting him through an intense program geared to help him (and us) be successful with attention and focus.  Let me tell you… we have hit the wall, plowed through it, climbed over it and have discovered that Jack's attention deficit is not only severe, but he also has a significant learning disability.

Before I go on, I realize that to some, I may be violating Jack's privacy.  First of all, if you know Jack, he is so good with it, very honest and frank about his struggles and very ok with who he is.  Secondly, to me, this is no different than revealing Jack had a physical disease like cancer (thank God he is very healthy).  A learning disability is a biological disorder, not a character weakness and there is nothing to be embarrassed about when your child is struggling.  I say make some noise and enlist as much help as you can.  This is how God created Jack's brain.  God doesn't make mistakes… never, ever.  This is a lesson I am learning and has put me on my knees more in past two weeks than I can ever remember.

In the past two years, I have prayed often for school to become "easy" for him.  It has not.  Instead, it has become more challenging every year.  When Jack would have a test, I'd go to the adoration chapel, kneel before the Blessed Sacrament and pray for a good grade, or at the very least, his BEST.  Often times his best that day was a D… minus.  So I'd say, "Maybe you misunderstood my request this morning, Lord.  But he is much smarter than a D-."  And so it went, over and over and over.  I knew that although I did not quite understand what God's purpose in all this was, I held on to the knowledge that there is purpose in every struggle we have.  What I did neglect is what has become so evident, so overwhelmingly glorious this past week.

God heard every prayer and saw every tear I quietly and not so quietly shed for my boy.  In his infinite mercy, he has protected Jack's emotional and psychological being.  Jack had a psychological evaluation with all of his testing.  It was concluded that Jack is a happy child with an average self esteem.  Jack gets along with everyone.  He is loving and playful.  He loves the bullied and the bullies alike (in fact, he is oblivious to any kind of friction amongst the kids in his class).  He never complains about his teachers, though I have… very often and sometimes not so fairly.  He rolls with the changes, despite the day to day challenge of sitting for 6-7 hours in a traditional classroom and struggling to understand for YEARS and despite being in a classroom full of pretty smart kids who like to compare grades.  In the critical years of adolescence, the ones where fitting in and not being different are so very, very important to kids, the ones that drained and are draining my two older kids and their mom, Jack is HAPPY!  This is the work of a loving God answering the prayers of a mother.  As I sat in quiet prayer this morning, I felt this is what God was saying to me.  He let me know he heard me and he did answer.  Perhaps not in the way I had asked, but maybe even better. God has most certainly given Jack challenges.  But I am certain God knows these things will strengthen him and make him a better person.  It is John and my responsibly to find the right help and guide him so that he can succeed at this.  But God has also protected this child's self confidence and emotional well being as evidenced by what a happy and easy going kid he is.

We continue to walk an unknown road in our quest to help him succeed academically (isn't all of life an unknown road?).  There are some pretty intimidating decisions to be made and I would be lying if I didn't say I wasn't extremely anxious over all of it.  I equate this feeling to spinning headfirst, eyes closed into the unknown.  It is very unsettling… UNTIL I remember WHO will catch me, who will protect me and who will guide me (and John, though he seems to have an innate sense that things will be good.  God perhaps?).

And then I am certain that Jack will be just fine.

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