Think Kit Day 1: A Thousand Words

I’m playing catch-up with SmallBox’s December Think Kit, a month of daily writing prompts for bloggers both seasoned and new. The first prompt is (well, was…):

Share your year in photos. Was there a moment of unrestrained happiness? An unexpected encounter? What role do photos play in your life – were you more selective with your phone (er…camera) this year? Or are you the King of Selfies? Dig into the deeper meaning of a moment frozen in time.

Usually, by the time November rolls around, I’m excited for the holidays and the fresh start that the new year brings, and I don’t spend much time on year-end reflection. As a kid, I wanted today to just be tomorrow already. Growing up with two sisters who are five and seven years my senior, I constantly wanted to be in their shoes, at their stages in life. I wanted to get to the future. As an adult, any reflection is usually related to a marathon or other race - what went well, how my training could have been different, whether I fueled correctly. So, the simple task of scrolling through digital photos from the past year reminded me that there is value in reflection. It’s been a good year, with lessons and changes and growth. Join me on a little photo journey.

January 2014: The coldest f$#%ing winter of my life, with quite a bit of snow, too. Despite how frigid it was when I took this picture, what this image evokes for me is the warmth of our little home and how cozy it feels inside. That house remained strong against subzero temperatures and heavy snow-covered tree branches. I’m impressed, little house. I love you more each year.

April 2014: The Boston Marathon, the most emotional and the most painful marathon I’ve run. Two days before the race, I went for an easy 5-mile run before flying to Boston. About two miles into the run, I felt a sudden cramping sensation in my right foot. It didn’t worry me, until I stood up to deplane in Boston and noticed the cramp had developed into minor pain. For the first time in a long while, I arrived at the start line of a marathon feeling afraid of what those 26.2 miles would bring. About six miles into the race, my fear became reality. The pain that adrenaline had masked was now revealing itself completely, and with only 20 miles to go… As my hopes of finishing near my goal time dwindled, I realized that this was a unique opportunity to ignore my watch and experience the scenery and spectators in a way I never had. What an incredible journey that turned out to be. The spectators at Boston are notoriously loud and enthusiastic, but after the bombings of the previous year, the energy and emotion was almost overwhelming. I crossed the finish line in 3:08:03, crying and laughing and pained and proud and in love all over again with the marathon.

April 2014: A well-timed trip to the US Virgin Islands. The day after the Boston Marathon, we traveled to St. John for the wedding of our friends Amanda and Askhan. There’s nothing like a trip to paradise to cure post-marathon mental and emotional woes, if not metatarsal ones. Well, the actual traveling resulted in a meltdown on my part. (Picture a grown-ass woman in the fetal position on a hotel bed sobbing about how it will be impossible to get to the airport, let alone through the airport, while a very patient husband wonders why his wife is so crazy and then goes to CVS to buy crutches, which are featured in the previous photo.) But once we arrived on the island and were greeted by stunning scenery, pure air, and the smiling faces of friends, I could no longer whine. It just didn’t make sense to be upset in a place like that. The only feelings that fit the surroundings were joy and love and peace. If the trip hadn’t been juxtaposed with intense pain and a meltdown, I wonder if I would have appreciated its beauty quite as much.

July 2014: Joining the Oiselle family. I can sense now that this moment will be a pivotal one in my life when I reflect on it again years down the road. In the months since becoming part of the group of female runners from around the country who support and are supported by the women’s running apparel company Oiselle, I have felt it affect me in a surprisingly meaningful way. This team is hundreds strong, and yet it is truly a close-knit family, in which each woman is celebrated for her accomplishments and comforted in her times of disappointment. It’s about runners helping runners, and women helping women, and it’s awesome.

September 2014: My first marathon win. How does it feel to put in months of work (really, years of accumulative training), and have it pay off by winning a marathon? It’s a mix of surprise, confidence, relief, empowerment, and sheer happiness. It is unique and incredible, and it compares to nothing else in life. And this particular finish was even sweeter because it came in a year when I recovered from an injury. I hope to recreate that winning feeling someday, but there is magic in the rarity of it - the kind of magic that makes me smile and causes my heart to flutter every time I think about it.

The arc of 2014 brought lows and highs, but the highs made me realize that my lows aren’t really that bad. This realization also forced me to ask myself, “Are these hiccups in my life really worthy of the level of freak-out I generally devote to them?” The answer is definitely “no.” Maybe it’s part of getting older (am I finally growing up??), but I’m starting to become more even-keeled. If the boat is steady, it can roll with the waves as they come along, instead of rocking back and forth uncontrollably. I’m looking forward to a steady yet exciting 2015.


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