An 18 mile grab bag

1. I ran 18 miles for the first time today. I never thought I’d have any reason to write that sentence. But in honor of that, I’m writing a post that is an odd combination of updates and reflective musings because one’s mind goes through an odd combination of thoughts when running for that long. (Today’s thoughts were mostly 14 miles of gratitude and positive running vibes followed by 4 miles of stomach cramps and an epic mental battle to keep going). I can only imagine what lies ahead after 26.2 miles. 26.2 thoughts?

2. Failure. I knew this whole running thing would teach me some life lessons. Of course, one of them is about failure. The first time I tried to run 8 miles, and then the first time I tried to run 14, I failed. Tears fell. My body shut down. Walking ensued. But I have no choice but to try again next time. And not let the doubt and “failure” win but let it motivate me. And “victory” (over those miles) tastes that much sweeter!

3. Trust. Tied in with failure, during those weeks of disappointing, unfulfilled attempts at new mileage, I just have to trust the hard work will pay off and that next time will be better. Looming negative thoughts of “What if that happens on the marathon day?” or “If I can’t run 14, why do I think I can run 26.2?” beg me to give in. Similarly, during July, running in 90% humidity and 90 degree weather in sunny Florida and thus running at a pace that is 1-2 minutes slower than normal, does not do much to help one’s confidence. But it does tell me a lot about trust. Trusting in the slow work of God. Trusting that though we can’t always see our tiny bits of progress amidst the mess of sweat and tears, God is there.

4. Part-time job #1. Since moving back to Chicago, I have been working full-time at the Archdiocese, my site placement last year. Since school starts this week, I will change to being at part-time employee at the Arch.

5. Part-time job #2. I will also being working at Catholic Theological Union (CTU, my grad school) as the student enrollment ambassador. It’s a new position. We’ll see what that means! I’m very thankful for both these jobs to help supplement my loans.

6.  Catholics on Call. The first week of August, I had the privilege of attending a conference/retreat (“contreat” so to speak) that happened to be at CTU for young adults discerning ministry in the Church. It was a beautiful week of needed reflection, engaging speakers, heartfelt small group discussion,  beautiful Liturgies, and melt-in-your-mouth cookies. And wonderful, precious people, like my small group:

Beautiful people. Precious hearts

7. My apartment. The building. We live in a 4th-floor walk-up, i.e., there are NO ELEVATORS! And you Chicagoans know that we’re talking steep stairs!  Moving our furniture in would have been impossible without our dads. But it is only 3 blocks from CTU. Lucky me!

So.Many.Stairs.

8. My apartment. The roommates. I live with two Annas, two of my housemates from last year at Amate House. We formed our own little “baby community” because the thought of living without “community” after last year was just a bit unpleasant. I am so very thankful for them!

9. Catholic Heart Workcamp (CHWC). When I was home in Florida for the month of July, the first week I actually spent chaperoning a high school mission trip to Knoxville, TN with my home church. It was a blessing to return to a camp that had been so formative for me just a few years prior.  My FAVORITE PART was spending time with the high schoolers (esp. the girls from my church every night!) and getting to share our hearts. To listen. To pray for them. And to share my story with them. And ok, I’m not gonna lie, I LOVED hanging out with the other chaperones too 🙂

10. Catholic Heart Workcamp. The plants. Ok, so my service group of 6 was assigned to work on a community farm for the week with another group. Let me tell you, my passion for turning work/life/play/everything into life analogies and lessons, was in full swing. I mean, planting, harvesting, watering, not seeing the end result, etc…. the possibilities are endless! I do believe the lesson that friends are like fertilizer was one life lesson we learned 😉

11.  Running for a cause. If you missed my previous post where I explain that my marathon efforts are to raise money for Catholic Charities of Chicago, you should check that post out!  Then, you should listen to your heart and see what it says about supporting those in need in Chicago through this amazing organization that reaches over 1 million people per year! Through my link of course 🙂 http://www.active.com/donate/ccofchicago12/melissamarathon

12.  Public Transportation. Still breaking me out of my bubble since August 2011. I love it 80% of the time. 10 % of the time I feel neutral but still grateful for such a helpful system. And the other 10% of the time- like Friday- it is utterly frustrating.

13. Madison Half-Marathon. I ran my first half-marathon a few weeks ago in Madison, WI! It was my first trip to WI and my first trip to see my midwestern buddy, Marissa (MoMo!!), on her turf. It went surprisingly well for Ace (my roommate, friend, and running buddy) and me. Nice weather. Stayed on pace. Beer (icky tho!) afterwards. Gorgeous route. Even a few hills didn’t ruin our spirit 🙂

Marissa, our #1 fan and my emergency contact 🙂

14. My Baby. My nephew, that is. In July, I got to spend lots of time with him. He is precious and I miss him. That is all.

Auntie misses those big, round blue eyes.

15. CTU. School starts Wednesday. A big day 😉 I’m SOOOOOO excited!! The people there are just wonderful. But grad school is a bit overwhelming too of course. The student body is incredibly diverse- from so many countries, of all different ages and life experiences, of all different colors and backgrounds, I can’t wait to learn from my fellow students!

16. Hyde Park. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park. It’s one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city, as to which my own apartment building is a testament! Hyde Park is home to the University of Chicago, in addition to many other theological schools like CTU. It’s got a small-town feel in the big city. Love it.

17. A running tradition. Gratitude. On our long runs, my running buddy and I try to say something we’re grateful for every mile. It keeps us in the right mindset and pulls us out of that self-focused, negative talk that can try to work it’s way in there, especially as the mileage increases. What are you thankful today? Speaking of my running buddy, check out her marathon blog! It makes her boss cry. Maybe it will make you cry too 😉

18. Imani. Faith. My running Angel. So today, you may have seen in #1 that the last four miles of my run were… rough. I was battling so many fear-filled thoughts (about this happening in the marathon) as the last four miles were filled with stomach cramps that felt like someone was holding a broom stick into my side. Enter Imani, my running angel. At mile 17, I passed a woman I had never met and asked her, “I can do this right? One more mile?” She gave me an affirmative answer. About a tenth of a mile later, she was running next to me and ran with me almost til the end (until her street came up). She helped me finish only about a minute behind my running buddy (I sent her on ahead since I kept having to stop!) and most importantly, she saved my mental health and helped distract me from the negative thoughts that I was battling that were ruining what had been an other-wise good run. I told her she was my running angel. I truly think she was. And cool fact… her name means Faith!

Thanks for sticking with me for the 18-mile grab bag that goes here, there, and everywhere like my thoughts during a run! Almost all of these could be a post in and of itself, so let me know if you want to hear more about any topic in particular!

Also, shameless plug. Read #11 again. Ponder. Click here. Thanks!!

Much love,

Melissa

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