Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saying Goodbye

I'm going to warn you from the get-go, this isn't the most uplifting read. But, it won't be long and I promise it'll be worth your while. A week ago today, the world lost a young man that the endurance community would have been proud to call one of their own. The kind that had a thirst for constant adventure and a zest for life that was admirable. That was Tyler.

Growing up, Tyler primarily lived with his mother, but frequented his dad's house on the weekends. His father was my next door neighbor. By default, we were instant friends. I remember summer days spent on our bikes cruisin' around the neighborhood and stopping at the local White Hen for a refreshing Slurpie. Summer nights were spent running around the baseball fields behind our houses chasing fireflies and playing Ghost in the Graveyard. 

The older we got, the less we saw of each other. Our high schools were big cross town rivals and our time together was often spent yelling cliche high school chants at each other from opposite ends of the gymnasium. After college, we very rarely saw each other. But our communication strictly involved all things endurance. Tyler made running a marathon look like a warm-up. The Ultra-Marathon was his forte. Whether it was on the road or on the trails, he excelled in distance. And he didn't stop with his running shoes. An avid cyclist and snow skier as well, he did it all. He even dipped his toes into the triathlon world more than once.

"BRB I'm gonna go run a quick 100"

I remember a few local races, watching Tyler approach the starting line, knowing that was likely the only time I'd see him throughout the entire race. Did I mention, the kid could kick it into high gear when he really wanted to. I remember how he always had a smile on his face. And he always wanted to know about my latest racing en-devours. And when you talked about any sort of challenging undertaking, his eyes lit up. And when he spoke to you, you could tell he was truly taking an interest in you. And he always called my parents Mr. and Mrs. Hode. No matter how many times my mother scolded him. "Tyler, please call me Vickie!" And I remember as he ran, his wild, out control, overgrown, curly hair flapped in the wind. And I remember how much he loved life and all that it gave him. A wife, a daughter, and one on the way. If ever there was a life taken to soon, it was Tyler's. 

In a few short days, Facebook will remind me of this heartbreaking memory

I couldn't tell you the last time I spoke to Tyler, which reminds me that I need to be more diligent with how I keep in contact with old acquaintances. Our last conversation was likely race related. And I can only pray that his final days were as joyful as when we shared the road together. 

If you have the means and can consider a donation to Tyler's wife and growing family, you can do so here. I'm about to lace up for my standard Saturday long run on the most perfect day in February, thanks to you know who.  And in a few short hours I'll be saying my final goodbyes. 

Cheers to one of the communities best.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Grind

Did anyone else wake up this morning welcoming February with open arms? I don't know about you, but I was ready for it. The start of 2017 left me feeling ready for another fresh start. A second chance, if you will. The day to day grind can be boring at times, repetitive if you will. And then there are the curve balls, which felt like everyday during the month of January. Everyone knows change isn't my favorite. I always do the best I can with what's presented to me, familiar or not. But if there's one constant that I've always had in my life, it's my running shoes. And as of late, that also includes my bike and my favorite swim suit.

Being active and running is more than just about "being fit" and "making sure I can fit into my jeans." Of course, I'm your average health nut that is still searching for a way to make Chicago style deep dish pizza healthy and taste the same {sorry gluten free/dairy free folks, girls gotta eat}. Some people workout to lose weight. Others need to keep their competitive spirit alive well after the high school and college days. There are others that simply need a moment to themselves, and a workout is the only way they can find it. But me? I'm not whole if I can't run. But Megan, you spend so much time swimming and biking too! You're right, I do. But before the days of triathlons and Ironmans, I simply ran. I never had a schedule. Whatever I wanted to run is what I did that day. Sometimes I'd find a track and do an old speed workout. Other days I'd lock into a comfortable pace and let my legs lead while my mind drifted.

And then I took a dive into the deep end and never looked back. I discovered a whole new part of myself that I never knew existed. And now my day to day grind looks a little different. Thoughts are flooded with chlorine and what my next meal is going to be. My energy is spread across 3 different sports, free time is a thing of the past and most moments of my day are planned strategically (including my sleep). Don't worry, I haven't completely lost it. I can still relax and throw away the schedule and check out of reality once a in while. But I always miss it.

So when I seem to have days that turn into the month of January, when life isn't going quite according to plan, I know I still have my grind. The grind that pushes watts, holds tempo, and reeks of chlorine. It holds my head above water and keeps my twitches at bay (not really, but kinda). One of the closest people to me recently told me, "Megan, I don't know anyone who is passionate about anything as you are about running." I was floored when she said this to me. I took that as quite the compliment and insisted that she herself had a passion buried in the depth of her. Of course this turned into a stubborn argument with my college roommate, but that's what we do best. But when it comes down to it, I need physical activity to keep me sane. Right now, it just so happens that I swim, bike, and run to keep my mind clear. I need to sweat once a day.  Megan, no one NEEDS to sweat everyday. Yes. Yes I do.

Megan get to the point. Find your grind. That something you just can't live without. Whatever it is that makes your heart full and keeps you out of therapy sessions. However brief it may be. And don't let anyone stop you. Maybe you're a yogi. Perhaps the free throw line of a basketball court calls your name daily. Or do you strive for a constant flow of knowledge from the endless supply of books in the world? I know, you're the next top chef and you're waiting for Gordon Ramsey to applaud your latest creation. Whatever it is, don't waste anymore time. Go do it.

Welcome, February. Me and my running shoes, we're ready for ya.