a wrong turn made right

The other day I took a wrong turn.  And I mean that literally.

I was running my goal race for the season.  Hitting every mile exactly as planned, on track for running a 1:35 in the half marathon just as I had hoped I would do.  It was a beautiful day in Annapolis.  The perfect morning for a race.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue, but the air was crisp and clean and there was a nice soft breeze.

I floated as I ran.  I was happy, enjoying the moment and soaking it in.   I was grateful to be there.  Grateful to feel so good and alive and to be doing what I loved.

The ZOOMA Annapolis race course is beautiful.  Yes, it is riddled with rolling hills, but none too scary or overwhelming in my opinion.  The bay views are breathtaking.  Running through town on brick covered streets is lovely and charming.  I was caught up in the moment, focused on my pacing and enjoying the new scenery.

Just after Mile 4 I approached “the bridge” – everyone says this is the toughest part of the race.  It is a long concrete bridge with a pretty steep hill at the start.  Once you come to the top of that hill you are on the bridge and then get to ride it out downwards gradually.  I came over that hill feeling strong and steady.  And then coasted down the hill.

But as I got towards the end of the bridge there was a sign with two arrows.  One arrow indicated a U-turn and the other pointed off to the left.  One said “10k”, the other “half marathon.”  But for some reason, it wasn’t clear to me where I should go.  I wished it spelled it out for me.  I couldn’t remember what to do.  I was on my own, no runners near me to ask.  No volunteer at the sign to help me.  I looked into my mind’s eye to try to remember where the course map told me to go but my brain just froze.  I ran passed the sign thinking I should go straight.  But then I stopped and I turned around, unsure of myself.  Panicking.  I made the U-turn and saw spectators – someone to ask.  I didn’t know what to do and I was losing time and feeling so worried.  I ran to the spectator and asked him – 

“I’m running the half marathon, am I doing the right thing?”

“Yes!” he said “GO GO!”

I was one of the top 10 at this point and the field was pretty scattered.  He reassured me and so I ran.  I felt good again and got back into pace.

As I passed the runners who were on their way up the bridge running towards the sign, they cheered for me.  I smiled and told them “pay attention to the signs!  It’s confusing!” hoping I could save someone from the anxiety I had just experienced.  I passed a friend and seeing her made me smile.  She looked strong and happy.  She was really unsure of how this race was going to pan out for her earlier that morning, but when I saw her I just knew she was rocking it.  That was such a good feeling.  It lightened my heart and gave me some ooomph, helped me forget about the time I had lost and how I “almost” went the wrong way.  I was feeling incredibly strong – the endorphins had kicked in, my race pace felt easy and I was cruising along.

And then I saw the sign for Mile 11.  And then the sign for Mile 6.

WHAT?  Are you kidding me?  Is this really happening?

I didn’t want to think about it.  I kept running, refusing to believe that I had screwed up so majorly.

And then I approached the stadium, where the start and finish lines were.

I neared the chute and people were cheering for me.  I stopped along the side where this incredibly nice lady was cheering her lungs off for me.  I told her thank you, and then explained I didn’t want to cross the finish yet!  I wanted to run the half marathon, not the 10k.  I had a lump in my throat.  I was fighting tears.  She looked at me confused and said “Oh, sweetie.  I’m sorry.”

I turned and looked at the finish again.  I did not want to cross it.  Runners started coming through behind me.  I didn’t care that they were placing ahead of me.  I wanted to go back in time.  I walked over to the announcer and said “Sir, is there any way I can please still run the half marathon and not the 10k?”  He looked at me like I was a complete idiot.  I felt like a complete idiot.  He just shook his head.

I walked across the finish line, feeling like a big dummy.  Feeling so so sad.  Feeling incredibly defeated.  So disappointed in myself.  In the situation.  Unable to understand how this happened.

I found my friends, one of them who works for ZOOMA.  I told her what happened.  She gave me a hug and then looked at me and said “Wait, there is no volunteer there?!”  She got right on it and made sure a volunteer was at the turn right away so this would not happen to anyone else.  I went to my car, because I was sure I was going to lose it and cry like a big baby.  I had so much emotion to release.  I called Robert and he was shocked – worried – right away he knew something was wrong because there is no way I am running a half marathon in less than an hour.  I wept, and explained what happened.

I’m sorry this happened.  We all make wrong turns in life.  But you will find your way.  You will learn from it and grow from it.  There will be other races.

I gave myself permission to be sad.  To be angry.  I tried to find humor in it, because who does that?  It is pretty funny when you think about it.  But every time I let it go, the sad/mad feelings would come back like a fierce wave and knock me down.

All day long I felt like a big dumdum.  I was disappointed in myself.  In the situation.  I wanted to make it different – to change the reality, but I knew I couldn’t.  I was helpless and the lump in my throat stuck with me for most of the day.

Then that afternoon my sister Jodi texted me.  She was heading back to the Emergency Room because her thigh was turning purple and was very painful.  Her breathing felt heavy.  They did an ultrasound at the hospital and could not find the blood clots that had been in her legs since her ACL surgery last month.  We waited as she went in for a CT scan, to see if the clots had traveled to her lungs.  To see if she was dealing with a pulmonary embolism (a life threatening condition when a blood clot travels to the lungs).  They were not able to find the clots and this was good – because it meant they were not in her lungs – but it was also confusing because there was no explanation for her symptoms at all.  They sent her home and told her to see her doctor again on Monday.

The next morning I woke up early and headed back to Maryland for a two day retreat.  I would be spending time at “lululemon ambassador camp” – I had no idea really what to expect but I knew it would be good for me.  I was nervous to go, to leave my sister and my family.  I honestly felt so drained from the day before and so much of me wanted to back out and just stay home.  But my heart told me to go – I needed this.

I pulled up to Camp Letts and it was just so beautiful.  A tree-lined gravel road welcomed me.  I could immediately tell I was about to experience something very special.

This sign made me think and I stopped the car and sat there.

I need to slow down.  Like, really.  I have been going going going – so distracted so busy – I am missing some good stuff that is all around me.  Maybe my mistake at the race had meaning in it.  I decided it did.  I need to pay attention to my life.  To my actions.  I need to not take things for granted.  I need to slow down.  I am hurrying through my life.

I took a deep breath.  I decided to let go.  To trust that my sister would be okay while I was gone.  To trust that what happened yesterday was really just a blip.  That I would grow and learn from it.  And I smiled.  I had given myself permission to be okay with how I felt.  I had decided to embrace it and move through it.

The retreat was more than I ever could have imagined.  I went into it without any real expectations.  I met amazing – no, INCREDIBLE – people.  Some who I feel just so connected to, as though I have known them my whole life.  We were fast old friends.

We spent the weekend talking about being OPEN to possibility.  Being the creators of the life we love.  So much was shared, so much was released.  So much filled my heart with hope and tingly excitement and gratitude.

I TOOK MYSELF ON over the last two days.  I faced my fears, wrestled with self doubt, and overpowered my negative thought demons.  I restored my spirit and my faith in myself and in the bigger picture.  I connected with what truly matters most to me and re-centered myself.  It could not have come at a better time.  It was just what I needed right now.

On Friday and Saturday I felt like I was on some sort of crazy roller coaster ride, in an alternate universe where everything was working against me.  It took me three hours to get to Annapolis Friday night (it should have taken closer to one hour).  I drove through an insane set of storms with tornado watches and all sorts of freaky thunder and lightening.  Then my race happened (or…didn’t happen, however you want to look at it).  Then my sister had her health scare.  It was all sorts of nuts!  But Sunday and Monday were like a reset button for me.  The world stopped spinning all crazy and I was able to see what was in my heart so much more clearly.  I feel at peace now.  And I feel excited and hopeful and thankful.  Good things are brewing in this life of mine.

so many things…

are making me feel grateful this week…

A husband who supports me.
When I run in the morning on week days, I usually need to be home by 7AM so Robert can get to work on time.  This week I wanted to get my long run out of the way before the weekend (because we are so busy with tee ball and other family commitments) and was planning to push Baby Gus in the stroller this afternoon.  The forecast was calling for 90 degrees with humidity though – not great for a baby to sit in the stroller for 2+ hours.  So Robert agreed to go into work late, giving me an extra hour this morning.  I got 14 miles done by 8AM – all thanks to him.  And as it turns out, the forecast was totally off – it’s been thunder storming all afternoon.  If I hadn’t gone out for my run early this morning, it simply would not have happened.  To top it all off, when I walked in the door at 8AM all sweaty and gross (and tired) after my run, he had already made the beds and cooked the kids a fantastic pancake breakfast.  Who does that?!?  My husband, that’s who.  He is awesome and I am so thankful for him.

Me, Robert & Gus. I love this picture.

A buddy (or two) who will run at sunrise with me any or every day of the week.
Every single day this week I met up with Chris for a run, and a couple of days we had extra company from our friends Amy and Terri.  Monday was 6 miles, Tuesday we did 10 (soaked in the rain), Wednesday was 8, Thursday another 6 and today 14.  That’s 44 miles logged with my buddies.  There is no doubt about it – if it were not for these guys I would be pushing the stroller or running on the treadmill.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have such true and devoted friends.



A sister who is a rockstar.
My sister Jodi had her ACL surgery on Wednesday and it went well.  It turns out she did not have meniscus damage — this is HUGELY AWESOME news!  Post surgery she is in a lot of pain, but is handling it like you would not believe.  She is one of the toughest, bravest and strongest woman I know.  I am insanely proud of her.  I am so grateful she is over the hurdle of surgery.  Today she has her first physical therapy appointment.  She is on her way to recovery and I will be with her every step of the way.  Go, Jodi!!


Going outside my comfort zone – and surviving.
So you will probably laugh, but this week I went outside my comfort zone in the kitchen.  I cooked chicken!  And it wasn’t awful, apparently!  Having been a vegetarian for the better part of the last 20 years, this was no small miracle.  I made dinner for my sister and her family yesterday and I’ll be honest – I went to the store to get one of those pre-cooked rotisserie chickens for them.  But I went in the morning, and there were none out yet.  I wasn’t going to be able to go back to the store later in the day, so the only other option I could think of was to actually cook chicken for them (eeek).  Honestly, my stomach hurt just thinking about it, as I froze in the grocery store aisle trying to come up with Plan B.  I called my sister Alissa (who is an AMAZING cook) and got some advice on a simple way to cook chicken breasts.  It was ridiculously easy once I got going, but I was a bit (ok, a lot) freaked out at first.  When Robert came home he tasted it and said I did a good job!  He is an awesome cook too, so this made me feel pretty much amazing.  I’m not confident in the kitchen.  Being married to a man that is passionate about food and great at cooking it has it’s benefits — but also makes me kind of not so great at it.  Yesterday though I was inspired to believe in myself a little more in the kitchen.  I am going to work on this more.  I think my family will like it, and it will help me feel better about myself.


Children who are happy for me.
I’m so excited to be running Hood to Coast with nuun in a few months, and my kids are very aware of the whole thing.  When I was applying for the team, they were eager and excited about my video.  And now that I am preparing for it, we talk about it almost on a daily basis – how mommy will be flying across the country to run a relay, to be part of a TEAM.  How I’ll be drinking lots of nuun (which they love and are obsessed with), running in the middle of the night and “smelling stinky” in a van.  How this is a dream come true for me.  And how I am saving money to buy my plane ticket.  I work a few different jobs – I teach pilates, I’m a running coach (with private clients) and I have a small business (Sugar Cone).  My family doesn’t rely on my income because it is pretty unpredictable (and truthfully, not so much money).  The money I make is sort of “icing on the cake” so to speak.  When I was applying for Hood to Coast, Robert and I agreed that if I got on the team I would pay for my plane ticket with the money I earn, so as soon as I got selected I made an envelope to save my money in.  I pinned it up in the kitchen on our family bulletin board and every time I make money I put it in there.

mommy’s savings plan

The other day, Abby noticed my envelope for the first time and asked me about it.  I explained that I was saving money so I could get to Hood to Coast.  She disappeared from the kitchen and a few minutes later, she came downstairs with her piggy bank and the following note:

how sweet is that?

I couldn’t believe her generosity.  I gave her a big hug and told her how much it meant to me.  I said I did not want to take her money, but that the kindness she showed me just made my heart soar.  It made me feel so loved that she would do something like that for me, and that was worth more to me than any amount of money.  I told her how proud I was of her, for being so thoughtful and giving of herself.  She insisted on giving me $11 (yes, my kid is loaded!) and she wanted to put it in my envelope.  I really did not want to take her money, but the look on her face when I told her that just about made me cry.  I realized that she would feel hurt if I didn’t accept it, so Robert told her he would pay her $11 for being so awesome.  It all worked out.  Abby still has all her money, and I am $11 closer to having a plane ticket!

Another note about HTC and how it is impacting my family — it is so fun to share this adventure with them.  I can tell that it gives them a little bit of anxiety – I’ve never been away from them for more than an overnight – but they are genuinely excited for me and happy for me despite their feelings about how it affects them.  I’m not just talking about my kids here – Robert, too.  I am so grateful to all of them for supporting me and for wanting this for me, even though it means they will be without me for a few (possibly very long) days.

This week has been full of things to be thankful for.  Sometimes I think life feels so busy – so chaotic!! – that I don’t really stop to take a minute to appreciate all the wonderfulness that abounds.  This morning as I was running – a run that was harder than hard for some reason – I thought about all the things that I have to be thankful for today.  And I realized – the list is endless.  It inspired me to take a second to write just a few of them down, to capture the gratitude that is in my heart on this day.  It is going to become a regular thing for me from now on.  There are just so many things to be thankful for …

the difference it makes

Baby Gus will be 15 months old tomorrow.

It’s hard to believe.  On the one hand, time has flown so quickly and it feels like it was just yesterday that he was in my belly.

On the other hand, I cannot imagine what life was like without him in it.  He is a permanent piece of my world, as essential to me as the air I breathe.  He made the world a brighter, more colorful place from the moment he was born.  I didn’t even know that was possible, but when two became three it just about blew me away, how blessed I was.
 
When I was pregnant with Gus, I thought a lot about what life would look like once he arrived.  How we would balance everyone’s needs and stay on top of things on a daily basis.  How I would keep everyone feeling happy and loved and as though they mattered — including myself.

By that point in my life I had realized something very important – running is a form of self expression for me.  It is my way of opening up to me – embracing who I am and telling myself that I matter.  Nobody judges me there, this is something for just me and I can make it about what I want to make it about.  It is time I carve out for myself, to give myself whatever it is that I need in that moment.  Sometimes what I need on a run is to completely let go of my stresses, and not think about a thing at all.  Sometimes what I need is time alone, meditating and opening my heart up to possibilities.  Other times I run to accept how things are, to find peace and gratitude in the midst of chaos.  Sometimes I just need to be with a friend, running side by side talking or not talking, encouraging one another to just BE who we are and to be the best of who we are.  Sometimes what I need on a run is to prove to myself that I’m worthy, and that I’m stronger than I think.  That I’m not alone, not ever.  That I can overcome my fears and my worries and my self doubt by pushing past them.  Sometimes (and, in fact, most of the time) I have no idea what I need, and my run will show me that I need nothing at all other than what I already have.  Running is time for me, and it is so important that I make it a priority.  It’s important because it keeps me balanced and it keeps me connected to the essence of who I really am.  It fills me up and makes me live life more fully and more presently.  So I can be there for the ones I love.

When Gus was born, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I would make the time for my running.  It wouldn’t be easy, but I had to figure it out because the alternative was painful to think about. I knew it would be hard, and that at times it might even feel impossible.  I worried that if I didn’t make my running a priority, I would lose myself and fall into a depression.

I felt that way because I’d been there before, several times, and the only way so far in this life that I’ve been able to climb out of those dark places has been to RUN out of them.

So really the only choice I felt I had was to find a way.  It hasn’t been easy, but there is no question it’s been worth it.

Balancing running with motherhood and other responsibilities like work and volunteering and errands and chores — is no easy task.  But it works.  One day at a time, it works.  I find a way.

Most days I have no idea how we fit in all that we do in this house, but we do.  A sunrise 10 mile run and I’m walking in the door at 7:00AM.  Right away I make breakfasts for my little people and pack their lunches.  Get them dressed and we’re off to school to drop off the first grader with the toothless grin.

Then the boys and I head to the gym – play time for them (they LOVE it there, thank goodness) and strength training for me.

After that, we head home so Baby Gus can take a nap for a bit before it’s time to take Will to school.  Hopefully I’ll get to shower, but oftentimes … I don’t (not until much much later in the day – priorities are what they are).  We wake up Gus from his nap usually around 11:15 and then hop in the car to take Will to school.  Gus and I fill our afternoon with different things every day – lunch, errands, playground time, visits with friends (today we fed the ducks!), chores around the house.  Before I know it, it’s time for nap #2 which he has to take in the car many days because we have to pick up the big kids from school.
The time flies by each day and it’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of our busy life.  The hours between 7AM and 8PM are crazy most days, especially during the week.  By the end of the day I am left feeling spent, but grateful.  Wondering how we fit in all that we did.

Before I made myself a priority in my own life through running, I would feel so frazzled at the end of each day.  I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but something was missing.  There was a heaviness in my heart.  I felt stagnant and stuck.  Sad.  And it baffled me because my life was so full of blessings.  What reason did I have to feel sad?!?  But I did.  And I needed to do something about it.  Enough was simply enough.

So I started running again.  And the fog was lifted.  And I have never looked back.

My sister Jodi says this — MOVEMENT HEALS — and I believe she is SO right.  A little movement every day not only makes your body stronger and healthier, but it makes you mentally and emotionally stronger as well.  When we make the time to move our bodies I really believe something magical happens from the inside out.  Things are stirred up and almost anything becomes possible.  Barriers can be broken, walls can come down.  We are able to release tensions.  To let go of emotional baggage we’ve been hanging onto.  To forgive.  To dream.  To change.  That is what it has been for me anyway.  Running has healed my broken heart.  It has inspired me to dream, to not put a limit on what I think I am capable of.  To value who I am.  To appreciate the life I have been given and to live it as best I can.

Running has made a big difference in my life.  It is not the source of my happiness at all, by any means.  But it clears away the cobwebs and opens my heart and my eyes to all that truly does make me happy.

when things get overwhelming

I sent my sister a text yesterday morning with this picture of me …

oh boy

I was feeling stressed.  Overwhelmed.  And it was making me feel blue.  Can you tell?

My to-do list had piled up on me, filled with everything from mundane (but let’s face it, necessary) tasks like laundry (I call it the “Hofheimer Fluff n’ Fold” — aaaalways doing laundry around here) and dishes, to paying bills to work projects and MORE.  Finding the time and space to focus and recharge just felt impossible to me.  There was so much to do that I felt paralyzed and it was depressing me.  All I really WANTED to do was curl up in a ball and take a nap.  But that wasn’t happening.

Two of my kids were sick earlier this week and as a result I’ve had a longer-than-normal string of sleepless nights.  It was catching up to me and affecting me in more ways than one.  I was tired.

Jodi responded to my text and told me that the only thing I really have to do is BREATHE.  She assured me it will all be okay.  It’s not so bad, after all.  She is the best.  Truly.

So I did what she said.  I took a few deep breaths and I closed my eyes and sat in the parked car for a few minutes.  I tried to silence the busy and negative voice in my head that told me I had to go go go – I reminded myself that none of the things on my list are earth shattering.  It will all get done.  I do not need to worry.  One thing at a time.  One step at a time.

All that really matters, all the things that I hold most dear in my heart and in my life — my children, my husband, my family and my friends — all those things are doing just fine.  We are all healthy and happy and safe.  I don’t need to get caught up in the details.  Sometimes the little details that nag at me, they can take me elsewhere.  Out of the present moment.  They cause me to lose sight of the bigger picture, of what’s most important.  I do not function well when this happens.  I’m sort of a mess when I step outside of the moment.  It’s not pretty.  It’s not fun to be me or to be around me.  I try every day to remind myself of this – to stay in the moment and not dwell on what was or what could be – because I am a much happier, much more relaxed, much more open person when I live my life that way.

My sister lives one street away from me.  After getting us each a coffee (because caffeine is my friend on days like that), I drove to her house with baby Gus and we visited for a little while.  It wasn’t long before she had me laughing and enjoying the moment.  Time with my sister is healing for me.  Pretty much always.

laughter – Jodi took this picture yesterday after maybe 40 minutes of us being together

After a little while there it was time to go home for Baby G’s afternoon nap.  I knew I would have about 1 hour of kid-less time for the day and that this would be my one chance to get things done without also keeping an eye on one, two or three little ones.  During the baby’s morning nap I have Mr. Will around and we usually play together just the two of us – I want to be present for him, not distracted by chores.  So in the afternoon when both big kids are at school and the baby sleeps I try to take advantage of that time and get things done.

But yesterday, I made a different choice.  Though my list was so long and overwhelming, I found myself instead holding my baby after he fell asleep in my arms.  I just wanted to stare at him.  His beautiful little body.  His peaceful, relaxed face.  I snuggled up next to his head and felt the warmth of his skin and the softness of his breath.  What a miracle.  This is all that matters.  I cherish these quiet moments with my children.  They reign me in and remind me to appreciate all of life’s blessings.

When Baby Gus is awake he is exploring the world with full force, curious and excited about every single thing around him.  He is moving so fast and growing so quickly.  I don’t want to miss a thing.

My list is still long and it will never disappear.  There is always more laundry to fold, more bills to pay, more phone calls to make.  It’s a great feeling to cross something off my list (I *love* that feeling), but I know that the minute I do, there will be more to add.  I can’t let this bring me down, or cause me to lose sight of all the wonderful things that are happening each and every day.  I do not want to take these things for granted.

This morning I woke up for a 12 mile run (it was awesome).  I came downstairs early to get ready, while everyone else was still asleep in their beds.  On the kitchen counter there was a note for me, from my husband.  I was confused.  Why did Robert leave me a note?   Am I missing something?  I opened it up and this is what I found:

Who thinks of this!?  My husband, that’s who.  The man I love for more reasons than I can tell you.

We have been married for 500 weeks today.  500 glorious, adventurous, sometimes crazy but never dull, weeks.  500!  That’s 3,500 days.  In that time we have grown as individuals and we have become a family.  Our life is way more wonderful than I ever dreamed it would be or could be.

There are so many blessings right under my nose.  So many things to celebrate each and every day.  Without Robert bringing this to my attention, I am sure that this little milestone would have gone unnoticed by me.  It makes me wonder – what else am I missing that I could be celebrating today and every day?   Probably so many things.  This is why I want to be present and aware, so that I do not miss even the simplest of joys in life.  So that when I am feeling down, I will be able to pick myself up and remember to breathe and be thankful.  So I can teach my children this as well.  I want them to be happy.  To know they are loved.  To know that they matter.

Today, I am truly grateful.  The smile that Robert’s note put on my face this morning has literally not moved from my face.  My cheeks are hurting a little.

Today, I’m making a promise to myself and to my family – I will be mindful and aware of all the goodness that abounds in my life on this beautiful day.  I will get done what I can, but I won’t take myself too seriously.  I won’t let the pile of tasks overtake the simple pleasures.

And if I find that it gets to be too much, I will take a second to BREATHE.  And maybe call my sister.

One.

Mr. Gus,
You are FULL of surprises.
case in point.
From the moment we found out you were on your way, your dad and I were STUNNED.
We already had two children,
but somehow we had no idea what to expect with YOU.
Your entry into this world, exactly one year ago today, was beautiful.
There was so much laughter and joy in that room.
It was exciting, yet totally peaceful.
love.
How is it possible for one little person to change your life so drastically in an instant?
You filled a space that I did not know needed filling until you arrived.
When you were born, parts of me were awakened that I did not know could exist.
And my heart grew ten million times bigger than I ever thought possible.
brand new
And it still does.
You amaze me — every. single. day.
In the beginning, I would just sit and stare at you
 as you slept in my arms so peacefully.
I just couldn’t believe you were here.
Even one year later, sometimes I still can’t believe it.
On the other hand, there is no way I could imagine what life would be like without you.
The first year of your life has been incredible.
I have loved every minute of it.
We all have.
 Mr. Gus, you took a bright world and made it VIBRANT.
You add laughter, celebration and joy to every single second of life.
Life is an adventure because of you.
Thank you for being you.
Happy First Birthday, Sweet Baby Boy.

I love you.