Aide

Four years ago today I ran what would be my last marathon. I did not know that at the time but I had an idea….I was tired. Training is difficult, time consuming and takes a toll on the body.
I just could not sit on the sidelines. The FOMO was real and I needed to be out there on Marathon day….so what is a girl to do? VOLUNTEER!
Two years ago my friend Khit asked for help with her aide station and jumped at the chance. I was put in charge of Gatotrade. Now, to some that would not be a big deal, but to me it was huge. I was in change of a battalion of volunteers that mix, pour and serve Gatorade to runners. Mixing it correctly is important…too weak and runners do not get enough nourishment. Too strong and runners get sick. Prepping table to serve it all is a big deal as well. Layers of cups are filled and often blow off the tables.
The day is long and starts early. I was up and ready to go by 4:30am, finishing about 12:30/1pm. And yes….wearing the tutu!
In between all that time, we are serving and cheering runners. Our aide station is about mile 12. Today it was unusually busy, even though the number of runners was lower than in past years. Why? Medical tent. Today was hot and humid. The conditions went from yellow to red as the day progressed and that progression was evident in the faces and bodies of runners.
Spotting hurting runners and keeping spectators off the course as well as out of the medical area was a full time job today. I mean….people do not like to be told no and feel a bit entitled sometimes. I was called a bitch 39 times. I was shooting for an even 40 but….it is a dream deferred! Like the Cub fan I am…there is always next year!
I was cheering runners all morning. The elite runners are a site to behold but the wheelchair athletes, endurance athletes, and those with special needs? Those folks are my inspiration!
“You got this!”
“Today is your Day!”
“You are going to finish and get a medal today!”
“You look so strong and amazing!”
I shouted and high fived runners as they passed for hours. Eventually a spectator called me over to the side. She looked at her young son and said, “tell her what you just said…” The teacher in my thinks she is trying to teach a lesson…..and yes, she was.
“I said that you are really inspirational. If I were running this, you would make me feel so good.”
I stood, stunned for a minute and replied, “These runners are MY inspiration. I know what is takes to train for and run a marathon. It is not easy and someday WHEN you run the marathon, I will be right her to cheer you on!”
He smiled and so did I….and then I was back to cheering on the runners.
I saw 2 of my former students running (one of which cheered for me once before!). I saw my friend, the running priest! I saw so many friends who knew just where I would be. The two most important, my BRF (best running friend) and another running buddy of ours gave me tight long sweaty hugs that I will never forget. The transfer of energy was electric!
As the end drew near, there were still runners on the course….walking now but determined to finish. We started to break things down and clean up and the crowds thinned. I took a moment, standing in the middle of the street and took it all in…all that had been accomplished by not only the runners, but the volunteers as well.
The Chicago Marathon only happens because so many people work so hard in tandem with others to make it all possible. It is no small operation.
Once everything was picked up and packed up, it was time to say goodbye and head home. Another year in the books. My heart is so full.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Earth

I am a Capricorn. Capricorns are an Earth sign. I need to feel grounded in the earth which I think is why I love my plants and gardening so much. I also think that is why I like running. My feet hitting the pavement with each footfall is my connection to the Earth.
There are also places on the Earth that ground me. One of those places in the Chicago Lakefront Trail. During the height of my “high conflict” divorce (the PC way of saying super nasty, craptastic divorce from an abusive narcissist), I found solace and comfort in my long bike rides along the Lakefront. I would head out in the morning with my bike, some water and a book. I would ride for 10 miles, take a break to read and people watch, then ride the 10 miles back to my car. It was an escape from the pressures of life where no one could find me for a while.
Once we got Lucky, I started taking him down there to run with me. We would run 5-7 miles together along the Lake and take a rest in the shade before coming home. He was living his best life and I could take a break!
Last year, when Covid took over, our trips to the lakefront ended. We stuck close to home and found new paths around the neighborhood but it was not the same. I felt out of sorts.
Last night, as I was falling asleep, I thought about the lakefront. I thought about heading back there for a run. I planned it in my head as I drifted off. When I got up this morning, I almost talked myself out of it. I dilly dallied and found things to do rather than getting dressed and going for a run. Then I took a look outside and the sun was coming up. I could see the skyline and feel the pull of the trail. So I leashed up the dog and got in the car.
We drove down to our “spot” and parked. I tried to pay but the box was broken and the app said it was “free” today. Score! With my water bottle on my waist, I turned on my “lakefront playlist” and we headed off for our run.
It.
Was.
Glorious!
I took in everything….every sight, sound and smell! I noticed all that had changed since our last visit. I took pictures both in my head and with my phone!
I am not going to lie and say that this was a perfect run….it was not. I have not run a lot since I broke my arm (nerves!) so there was some walking, some crying and some cursing….but I loved every minute of it!
The small signs along the way were not lost on me….. no traffic, making the greenlights in Irving, the open parking spot, “free” parking, the sailboat named “Namaste”, the phonecall from my kids as I ran, the homeless woman who asked me to stop so she could pet Lucky (she lost her dog “a while back” and missed him), the little girl who shouted, “Hey! I love Girls on the Run” (I was wearing my GOTR shirt….and forgot I had it on until she shouted at me!)…..the list goes on and on. I am a firm believer in signs and angels….and today they were out in full force, letting me know that this was exactly where I needed to be as well as what my heart and soul needed.
Over a year ago, I took that last run for granted and today vowed never to let that happen again. I will not take the glorious views of the city and lake for granted ever again.
Today was a reminder to trust my instincts and take chances. Today was a reminder what grounds me. Today was a reminder of how far I have come, the moments and things I cherish as well as how much I have left to accomplish in this world.
My motto is #forwardisapace and I will always move forward. I move forward with my feet firmly grounded on the Earth, my heart full of love, and my soul full of peace.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Connection

2021 Pay-It-Forward:
The first five people to connect with me will receive from me, sometime within the calendar year, a handwritten note, perhaps with a gift attached. There will likely be no warning and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me.
Let’s all pay it forward this year!
🖊
Pay it forward!!
Let’s connect!! Peace, #tutulady #forwardisapace

Buddies

Day 14 of 30 
Buddies
I run with my best buddy every day. The bonus of races being virtual now is that he can run them all with me!! 
Race sponsors that spoil running buddies are what I am so grateful for today! 

#30daysofthanks #thirtydaysofthanks #gratitude #grateful #virtualraces #runningbuddies #adoptdontshop #spoiled #luckydog   #sheleavesalittlesparkle #watchmommawork #forwardisapace #tutulady