Marathon Plans

This upcoming Saturday I have the Montgomery Half Marathon. Last year I was late to the start because one of my players was in the hospital. So this year I am excited to have the chance to run it again. I know the course, I know where the hardest parts are, so I’m ready to attack it.

I love half marathons, but admittedly I haven’t trained for one as much as I did the first 1/2 I ran. I’ve been able since November 2014 to maintain my fitness level to a point where I can run 10 miles pretty okay, but it is a struggle to get to 13. But with a little pre-work out and a couple weeks of training, I can get there. I tucker out around miles 11 and 12, and then pick it up for the ending.

I’m ready for this Saturday. I ran a half marathon 3 weeks ago, and I know my body is capable of the push. I am looking forward to the run. But I’m starting to look long term too. I’ve hummed and hawed about doing a full marathon, but I’m starting to lean into it. I want to attempt the monstrous run. What’s holding me back? Is it time commitment to training? I have a sturdy base level of fitness I can build from. So what’s the mental gap? I need to sign up. It’s the next evolution in my routine. It makes sense. I know I can complete it if I tried. To go with ease, not worry about time. I worry about my time with half marathons. I want my splits to be better and better. Close to 8:00 mile splits or around there. But a marathon. The goal will be to complete it. Not to worry about time but to worry about pushing through the pain to achieve what few are capable of doing.

It’s time. Marathon is training will commence. I want to challenge myself mentally, physically, emotionally through the training process.

October 2017, it’s time to for a marathon bib to be incorporated to the stack.

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50 Mile Challenge

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My former college teammate and I have been doing this monthly challenge for years. We try to get 50 total running miles in a month. We will self report to each other and it was a way to help kick start our fitness regiment. It has helped me reach the fitness level I am at now. I feel healthier than I ever have before and I want to share it with others.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/runningchallenge50/

So many people want to get in shape, lose weight, get fitter but they might not know where to start. But with doing a challenge it provides a little structure, plus being a part of a group setting allows for greater results and has proven it allows for a higher percentage in reaching goals.

Setting up daily goals in the days and weeks after my husband passed away provided me with a purpose. It gave me a reason to get out of bed every day because I felt self-motivated and I knew if I hit those little milestones eventually it will turn into a habit. With this 50 Mile Challenge, I want to pass along the lesson I learned and gained. I want to help others reach their goals too.

How will I help you and others reach their goals? Well Facebook of course! It’s self reporting style, and there’s more and more joining the challenge each day. Do you want to start on your journey to bettering yourself?

Check out my 50 mile challenge! Begins February 16 and ends March 31. 44 total days to get 50 total miles running or walking.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/runningchallenge50/

Also check out my Instagram at @flippingsteier

Shadows chasing shadows

I can feel my grief in my muscles. The aches and tightness in my legs are constant reminders of the sadness that creeps into some of my days. I still find my release in fitness, and I grieve more some days, and on those days my body takes the punishment when my mind wants to run away. I’m feeling anxious tonight. This weekend is the first weekend of many recruiting trips. Recruiting plays a huge role in the success of my job, but I haven’t forgiven myself for spending so many weekends on the road when I should’ve been with George during his final weeks. When I got the phone call that he must go into hospice care, I was at a recruiting tournament in New Jersey. It was a Saturday at 9a and I remember getting to Memorial Sloan Kettering to speak with the social worker about hospice by 11:30a.

I hold on to so much regret.

Tonight I felt the uneasiness of grief creeping in so I laced up my sneakers and went for a night run. I am getting more comfortable about Montgomery and my neighborhood so the night run felt good. My sore muscles started to loosen up as I found my stride, and the grit of the pavement under my feet was a sweet reminder of how good it feels to hurl my body throughout the streets until my mind disappeared. At one point, the street lights shined down perfectly and I was chasing my shadow. The dark carbon copy stretched out in front of me, and I would chase her down until she lengthened and fell behind. And then at the next streetlight, she would creep into the lead and I would chase her again. There’s always going to be shadows from my last life hanging around, and I’ve been good about running away, but if I’m going to move past the shadows, do I have to face it head on?

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Reinventing in Southeast

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It’s been so long since I’ve updated this thing! Someone recently asked me why I hadn’t and I mentioned that nothing too exciting or out of the ordinary has happened so no need to update. But I think there’s a lot. What would have been my two year anniversary just came and went a week ago, and during the time I had recruits at Huntingdon. It was a good distraction, but just like most anniversaries, the lead up to it creates the most anxiety. The days leading up to September 19th were grueling, but when the 19th came, I felt good. Relaxed. Happy. I thought about George, I missed George, but I also remind myself how the love I have for him still has helped me improve and better myself. I’ve said it once and I’ll always say it, I am so lucky to have experienced a love like his. I can only wish when I leave this earth someone loves me as much as I love him.

I’ve been in Alabama for 2 months now, and I LOVE IT! In New Jersey there was this cloud of death and sadness that hovered around me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake it. I played by the grieving handbook and didn’t make any major life decisions in the first year of widowhood, but when this opportunity came about I did think it was George pointing me in the direction to reclaim my life. And I think I have. When someone dies, no one can prepare you for the financial aftermath and I was lucky to have support of my parents, and to have a great emergency nest. But the reality came that Drew paid me really poorly, and I never was able to recover financially from George’s passing. I was scraping by. Being down here for 2 months I’ve already rebounded back, and though I don’t think money provides happiness, it does provide security which helps with overall happiness.

In New Jersey I learned to cope with the emotions of losing George, but now I’m learning how to live without him. I am so glad I took this risk to move to Montgomery, because I feel so free and independent. There was an adjustment period, but it was because the culture and people of the South are so different than the North. I’m coaching the sport I love, interacting with passionate and determined young women, meeting all sorts of people from different walks of life, and last but not least, I am teaching spin classes at a gym nearby and every time I am on that bike, I know George is smiling at me. Life it good here in the gump. Plus I met a sweet Air Force fellow at the dog park, and Bodie and his dog have become best friends while we started dating. Can’t really complain. My bouts of grief only last minutes now rather than days. That’s one thing worth noting.

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I was eating a carrot

Back to coaching

Today I have officially returned to coaching lacrosse. I’m at a clinic in Massachusetts and my anxiety going in was visible. The only person willing to ask me what was wrong was the person running the clinic and I was honest with him. I said well my husband died. And he just gave me a hug and said will you need breaks? I said we’ll see. Being confronted with the other coaches is hard for me. I know they know what is going on and I know they’re asking one another about it. I don’t think they are gossiping about it but I know it has been brought up. And yes it makes me uncomfortable because I can’t do anything to change what has happened. It’s just there. 

Apparently I appear lethargic and withdrawn. Okay. 

When it came time to work with the athletes I turned it on. I know I did because a lot of the girls who came to my station left feeling really good about their performance. Even the other coaches I was with said it was enjoyable. At the end of the day, I’m fine with coaches thinking I look withdrawn but as long as the kids get what they came to the clinic for, I’m satisfied. But right when it was time to leave and I didn’t have to keep it together, I allowed myself to unravel. I’m sad, incredibly sad, and to fake happiness is tiresome. I wish I could call George right now and tell him how my day went. Tell him about the lacrosse gossip because he always was interested in it. He loved gossip and I loved telling him about it. Image

This crazy train

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My spirit animal today must be Ozzy Osbourne because I’ve heard crazy train on three different occasions. When George was in high school he was really into Black Sabbath and when Ozzy came out as a solo artist he liked him as well. I watched this Ozzy documentary on Showtime and started really getting into him and George was so excited to revisit the Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman with me. I’m pretty sure he was planning on buying me those Tshirts off some vintage online stores because we talked about it up until he was admitted to the hospital on November 15th. Ozzy I accept you as my spirit animal in addition to the lucky cat.

There’s something that comes with grief and that’s social anxiety. Today I mailed out the death certificate to George’s work and while I was at the post office a man complimented me on my eyes. At the time I wasn’t aware he was talking to me until I looked up and a older woman nodded at me. I said thank you but quickly scurried away. I feel so broken on the inside and I think it’s visible on the outside. Im weak and vulnerable and just really keep to my own business. I barely make eye contact with anyone except those I feel comfortable with.

All day I’ve been worrying about a lacrosse clinic I’m doing tomorrow and Sunday up in Boston area. Seeing other coaches who know I was married this year may not know George has died. Ive been thinking about all the questions I’ll get about both the wedding and his death. Every day I build myself up right when I wake, because each day is a challenge. Any little comment that pulls at my soul can destroy me like wind to a house of cards. I’m going to be the only widow there, and I’m making myself mad with worry. The worst part is if I get upset I would call George and he would calm my nerves. But I don’t have him to sooth me. I don’t have him to go home to after a long weekend of recruiting.  I miss hearing about his adventures when I go away for a weekend. He would tell me, “Julia, who cares about them. Worry about yourself because you’re better anyway.” Then he would give me a big kiss and hold my hand. I love him and miss him. Ozzy will see me through this crazy train.

 

On the range

When the Roman Catholics developed the thought of purgatory, I think they were referring to grief. This state of mind and being is barely manageable. You just float through time some days feeling like utter chaos and others just not feeling at all. I didn’t cry today. I didn’t laugh today either. I don’t think I even smiled. I was just alive.

There’s a wealth of conflicting impulses that I’ve been going through on a daily basis. Some days I want to just run out if the house and run until I cannot go any further. Then other days I want to cook until my hands swell from the heat of the stove. But with these shifting impulses I end up just not doing anything at all. It’s like they cancel each other out. When one gut twisting impulse pops into my head another one is on deck to distract the former.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to play basketball and I’m looking forward to doing so. George’s nephew plays basketball and last time we were in Ohio we were playing horse and doing trick shots. I’m extremely competitive and George, although not the most athletic, he was really good at shooting hoops. He would make these wild shots and when I tried to replicate it, I couldn’t. We rarely played sports together but one of the first things we did together was throw the lacrosse ball around. George had never seen nor played lacrosse. He was familiar with ice hockey though, and I assured him the skill set for both are similar. He definitely had the eye hand coordination for lacrosse and he was a great passing partner as long as I threw it spot on. When there was pick up lacrosse games in Chelsea I would always bring an extra stick so we could just pass around. He would come out to watch me coach in the coldest and worst weather too. I’m sure he went to more games than he wanted, and I knew it wasn’t his favorite thing but he just supported me and I think enjoyed watching me be happy. I want to be happy now in the worst way. I just can’t. Instead I mindlessly wander through a spectrum of emotions on some days and none on others.

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Carrying a toad

Today one of my close college friends/teammates came down to visit, and we went to one of our favorite college spots. There’s this little diner that was turned into a Thai restaurant so we always refer to it as the Thai diner. We were talking about what it means to lose someone and how to cope with it. A couple years ago this friend’s father suddenly passed away, so when George died we quickly started talking about grief. She and I are both college coaches and often mingle with the same type people. I was asking her a slew of questions on how to deal with other coaches, and dealing with a team when unable to control your own emotions. During this conversation I had an epiphany:

I am a head lacrosse coach at a small university and I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on my players to hold strong for me and how I’m expecting them to come back from winter break in tip top shape so we can immediately get to work on building a strong foundation for our season. When all this horror began with George getting terminal so quickly, my team was always in the back of my mind. How will this affect them? How will they deal with this? How can I lead them when I don’t even know what I want? What will they think of me if and when I have a breakdown? But then I realized, it’s not all about them. Just like any relationship, it takes both sides to compromise if it’s going to be successful and stand the test of time. I need to get back in shape just as much as they do. I need to be emotionally stable by our first game. I need to by sharp and decisive by our first practice. There’s nothing in life that can ever prepare someone for this. Hell, I played Division 1 lacrosse, and as difficult as it was to have two-a-days in pre-season, nothing in my life has ever been this challenging. It’s a Sisyphean task, but just like the competitor I am, whenever I see a challenge I will encounter it head on. Even if that rock rolls back on me two dozen times. I need to come back ready for my team so they can rely on me just as much as I have with them.

George was always a great listener whenever it came to my team and the problems and stresses that come with coaching. Whether it’s a regret from something I said at practice, or if it was an issue with behavior of a player, he was always supportive and gave excellent advice. Although, he tended to side with the girls rather than me. But it kept me grounded. He was my id to my superego when it came to coaching.

He would come to all the weekend games to support me and my team. One time last season, it was our final conference game and we needed it to clinch a spot in playoffs and during warm ups, he called one of my junior starters over to him. I was speaking with the officials so I didn’t see it happening. All of a sudden, my player was running over to me yelling, “Coach, I need to give you something!” She held her hands out, and a softball sized toad was just staring up at me. “George wanted me to give this to you.” I looked at the toad again, then at her face. She was panting heavily because she didn’t care for reptiles of any sort, and then I glance across the field and George was standing there, grinning ear to ear waving at me. I told her to run back towards him and give him the toad. I was so angry because this was just before a game and I needed her to be focused. We ended up winning, and the player he handed the toad to scored the first goal of the game 8 seconds in. After the game I didn’t really care that he handed her the toad, or even distracted her. I just asked him not to do it again in the future. On the way home he was just laughing because he thought it was so funny how both me and my player reacted. He just knew how to lighten the mood regardless of the situation. And I need to remember that as I carry on. He was the best sideline coach I’ve ever had.

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