The Downhill is Worth the Climb

20160418_180804Have you ever had the feeling of doing something incredible? That’s exactly how I felt crossing the finish line of Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., with a BQ (Boston Qualifying Time) — incredible. Today I had the opportunity to actually get the chance to fulfill a long-time dream of running the Boston Marathon. It’s a first for me. I can cross it off my dreams list. There’s an amazing feeling when you accomplish a dream you’ve worked so hard to attain. I wish everyone could experience that rush of happy emotion. I wish everyone could experience something great. There are seeds of greatness inside all of us, but it’s sad that most never let them grow and flourish. I didn’t want that to be me.

There was so much anticipation the days leading up to the big race. I had a plethora of emotions — excitement, nervousness, pride — a sense of accomplishment knowing the hours of hard work it took to qualify to be here. I did it for anyone who forgot how to dream big dreams. I did it for my country as my way to show patriotism, Boston runs together, Boston strong! I did it to be an example for my kids so they can dream and achieve larger than life goals. But I mostly did it for me to prove to myself that I am worth it and that I have something to offer to others.

20160418_070322It was hours of waiting to start. I was up early to get ready, then we took the shuttle to the airport to get on the Blue Line T to get on the Green Line T to get to the Boston Commons where I would take a bus to the starting village — only to wait another hour before we could go to the actual start line where we would find our corrals and wait for the gun. It was HOT! Coming off my Minnesota winter training into 60s and sunny proved difficult. Keeping hydrated throughout the race was key.

The race was awesome and terrible all at the same time. My first half proved strong with sub-8-minute miles, and a goal of a PR (personal record) seemed in reach. However, the second half told a different story. My IT Band flared up, and my foot pain did as well, both things I had been fighting throughout my training. I tried to shake it off, but my IT Band was hurting enough that turning over my legs became harder and harder. Eventually it forced me to slow down even though my lungs and heart told me to keep going fast. When I realized I couldn’t make a PR and also couldn’t hit another qualifying time, I decided to slow even more to ensure a finish without further injury.

20160417_132324The race course is hard, but I was determined to just run my race and not think about that. Were there hills? I didn’t notice them in the beginning, but I sure enjoyed those downhills! Sometimes in life it’s hard to push through the hills, but it’s always worth it to get to the downhill. Even Heartbreak Hill wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be. It was at a tough spot between miles 20 and 21, but it didn’t make or break the race. I did walk some of it because of my leg pain, but I didn’t sweat it. I just kept going.
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I teared up quite a few times along the way, some from the pain, but mostly thinking about what it took to get here. It was a surreal feeling that I wanted to make last. I wanted to enjoy each and every moment. I teared up thinking about the fact that many try to qualify but not many will. I was among the elites of runners. I teared up thinking about the fact that 50 years ago women weren’t allowed to run the race. I teared up thinking about how Bobbi Gibbs must have felt 50 years ago when she snuck into the race and ran unofficially to prove women could run 26.2 miles. I teared up as I passed by Patrick Downes who ran on his prosthetic leg after losing his leg in the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon finish line three years ago. I teared up as I looked up at the historic buildings. I teared up as I passed runners on stretchers from the heat, and I prayed for each one as I ran by. I teared up because of the pain. I teared up knowing I missed my goal. I teared up thinking about making it to the finish. I teared up after I crossed the finish with mixed emotions of pride and fighting feeling like a failure. I would have failed if I quit — but I finished.

Am I disappointed? It would be a lie if I said no. Yes, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that I didn’t hit my goal and that my injury held me back. But am I proud? Yes. I’m proud that I finished despite the pain when many may have chosen to quit. I’m proud to have soaked up all the moments along the way, all the cheering, all the signs, all the sights. I’m proud to have run this sought after race. I’m proud of the hard work it took for me to get here at all. So, yes, there is some disappointment, but only because I’m a winner, and I always want to know I did all that I could. I strive to be better. I’m proud that I started, I stayed steady, and I didn’t quit.

Will there be another marathon? Well, I didn’t hit my goal, so I think you can answer that question.  I need to heal. I need to take time to fully recover. I am running Twin Cities Marathon with a goal of pacing my aunt to qualify for Boston, but then it’s just a matter of when and where. But you better believe that I am determined to make this new goal and dream a reality. Do you have a goal? Now’s your time to dream big dreams and make them happen. Don’t waste your days. Turn them into moments. Soak them up. Go get your dream, climb your hill and find the downhill. It’s always worth it!

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Sacred Marriage

SCAN0021Fifty years is a long time for anything, but 50 years of marriage is special, and these days, rare.

My parents celebrated their 50th Anniversary in October, and I am so proud of them. Through their 50 years together, they have taught me three important lessons:

1. COMMITMENT. Commitment to anything takes hard work and desire to finish. My parents taught me that marriage is not, and should not be, feeling-based. When united in marriage, two become one, and this bond no man can break.

My parents stuck it out through some really difficult situations, and early on were even close to divorce. They fought for their marriage and didn’t allow their emotions to dictate their relationship.

They taught me agape love – unconditional, no-strings-attached love. This love is not feeling based like pathos and eros. It sticks it out for better or worse, just like our wedding vows recite. My parents reflect what commitment truly means.

DSC_02242. DREAM BIG. I’ve always been a dreamer, and I have to give a lot of credit to my parents because they never doubted me or told me my dreams were too lofty to attain. They encouraged me to pursue the desires of my heart. They were my biggest cheerleaders. When I was playing basketball in high school, I remember they were always in the stands cheering, and even though I wasn’t the best, I was the next Lindsey Whelan in their eyes.

They also never said no when opportunities arose for me. Looking back, I see just how much time and money they sacrificed to make sure I could pursue my passions. I said yes to opportunities like traveling around Europe, interning with New York News 1 at the Democratic Convention in Boston, and studying at the World Journalism Institute in New York City. Every opportunity gave me a chance to grow a little more into the woman I was created to be.

My parents gave my dreams a chance to be nurtured and flourish, and I am still a dreamer today.

3. STRONG FAITH. My parents have strong convictions and are not easily swayed. I learned it’s important not to waver and to make my faith my own.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). This verse rings true in my life, and I’m sure I was a big part of my parents’ prayer life – I probably still am. I had my years of rebellion against my parents and against God, but midway into my college years, I changed and developed an unshakeable faith like my parents reflect day after day.

My parents’ deep-rooted convictions helped me to see the importance of believing in something bigger than myself. When it wasn’t forced, I had the desire for a relationship with my Heavenly Father. Thank God my parents never gave up on their convictions – or me.

DSC_0215My parents are two special people with their own love story – trials and victories alike – that shaped them into who they are today, together, as one. Their life is a reflection of commitment, big dreams, and strong faith. Because of them, I am a better wife, mother, friend, and daughter. I am a reflection of what 50 years of marriage produces. Thank you for saying yes to the call of a life-long commitment to each other.