Sunday, January 4, 2015

Better Late than Never

photo credit: Brightroom Photography
This was my 6th marathon. I look pretty
pumped about it, right?
So it is now 2015. I ran the NYC Marathon exactly 9 weeks ago today. I kept meaning to post. To tell you all how wonderful and fabulous and glorious I ran and what a wonderful experience it all was, but I couldn't put all of my thoughts together coherently and I'm still not sure it's possible. I would love to tell you THIS is the post that I will tell you about my marathon, but ya'll know I suck at lying and THIS is not that post.No worries though. I'm going to post twice in ONE NIGHT. So here is what has held me back. (WARNING: I told you it was a lot to process)

This marathon was very different than any other I had ever run (which was 7 if you haven't been following). Over the 6 years I have been running, my goals, training plans, training partners, inspiration and motivation have all changed as time progressed. I started off so fresh and new. I didn't know ANYTHING about running in 2008. I ran as therapy after the loss of my friend. If I was sad, I would run. Simply put, this means that I ran a lot. I soon joined a running group and for the first time in a VERY long time, I had friends. Friends that weren't related to me. I ran with other moms, grandmothers, college kids, old friends from high school that I hadn't seen in years. I had friends that talked me through tough days and inspired me on each run to go farther, run faster and really, just believe in me. This was the beginning of my running chapter and I loved every step of it.

ECU Relay for Life 2012. My job looks pretty tough right?
I always give 110%.
This is me at the END of the Relay season.
I'm trying to make it all fun, but man, I need a nap!

Over the years, this group kept me going, but I left the corporate world in 2011 and moved over to non-profit. I worked at the American Cancer Society and I mean WORKED! 60+ hours a week. The job was personal to me. It was emotionally taxing and it would seem I could channel that emotion just as I did when Emily died and pour it into running to burn it off, but it just didn't pan out like that. I have tried for years to figure out the difference and the only thing I can figure is, I didn't have a say in Emily's death. She was dying of Ovarian Cancer. I couldn't fix her, I couldn't change the outcome. We lost her and I could never change that. The emotions I dealt with at the ACS were much different. I HAD a say. I could raise more money, more awareness, bring in more volunteers... I had a say and my say meant that hopefully, I could make a difference. I could save someone's Emily. And so I worked, and worked and worked. My runs became less important. It began to get hard to wake up at 4:45am to make my 5:30am runs because I was up until 2am thinking about everything I wasn't getting done and how I could fit it all in the next day. It's safe to say, I worked too much. I never saw my kids or my husband, my friends, my family, everyone I cared about got put on hold and I realized very abruptly with the thanks to my 6 year old daughter that I had to stop.  I attended an ECU Relay for Life event (that was one of my Relays that I was in charge of) and they had a large white board with the words "If cancer didn't exist". Kids (as in college kids) wrote what that would mean to them. My 6 year old picked up the marker and her first quote made my heart skip a beat as it read, "I would remember Miss. Emily". To her, Miss. Emily wasn't a memory as she was only 3 when she died. She was only someone I had told her about in stories. It was her second quote that STOPPED my heart. It read, "I would see my Mommy more". My six year old got it and I was missing it. I was missing her grow up, missing my son grow up, missing my husband, missing my runs, missing my running group and missing my friends. I submitted my resignation as soon as I saw all of my Relays through that season helping to raise just under $600,000 for my 4 communities and really, I never looked back.

Now I am the part time Executive Director at the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. Non-profit work has a way of draining your emotions. I am MUCH better at balancing my work life balance at the HSEC. I still work more than the hours I am paid to work (and I have NO issues with that
Photo credit: Capturing Canines
This is Tilly and I can honestly say, I helped save her.
WHATSOEVER), but when my kids need me, I can arrange to be there. I can get them off the bus, help them with homework and enjoy dinners with my family. Still though, I am emotionally drained and running hasn't been a priority. Again, I have a say, I can change the outcome of the HSEC if I work hard enough. I lie awake at night and wonder what else I could do to bring in the donations we need to keep us a float, how to market our animals to get more adoptions and what I can do to educate our community about the HSEC and animal welfare to SAVE MORE LIVES. Staying up until 2am just doesn't compute to runs at 5:30am. So again, my running has suffered. This time though, my work is tangible. I can SEE the difference I am making. Not only can I see it, I can literally touch each and every one of those babies! I can see our donations and fundraising totals rise. I can see my team of co-workers and I all working together to increase adoptions, reduce spending and do everything we can to keep our organization a float. I CAN SEE AND TOUCH AND HUG THE VERY LIVES I AM HELPING OUR TEAM TO SAVE. It's VERY easy to capture in our reports. All of it, but my favorite part is the number of animals we are placing! We have increased adoptions from 376 in 2013 to 600 (plus five return to owners) in 2014! If I had to choose between running and saving the lives of 605 animals in my community, I would always choose lives over footsteps. Always. BUT, I really must find a balance and not always lose myself in my passion, which also happens to be my job.

Spoiler alert.
This is more my running style these days.
Sooooo.... now that I've got that off my chest, this leaves me to tell you all about my glorious marathon through all 5 boroughs of New York City. Stay tuned!

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