formats

The Only Lonely Casualty

 

This post was inspired by: Hercules by Sarah Bareilles

I encourage you to listen to the song and then read.

 

***

“What if I don’t find him? What if I never truly experience love?” She paused to break eye contact and released a heavy, painful breath. She tightly closed her eyes to shut out the rest of the world, simultaneously releasing mascara-clogged tears onto her cheeks as she whispered, “What if I never have a partner… a family… a baby?” I felt her pain as if it were my own. The air of desperation in her voice rang far too close for comfort. We spent the session exploring these desires and fears around finding love and even more importantly the woman’s identity apart from being in a relationship. Who is she? What are her passions? Aside from longing to love and be loved what makes her happy?

My fourth client of the week who was searching for love, her words triggered a tightness in my chest. A strong yet delicate woman with so much heart to give; for a brief moment I saw myself sitting on the couch across the room. I blinked to erase the image but the feeling lingered for days. Her words poured over me again and again, “What if I don’t find him? What if I never truly experience love again?” It wasn’t until this past weekend that I added my own questions: Do I even want to find love right now? Am I capable of love right now?

My days are often filled with an ebb and flow of knowing and pondering. Knowing that I need to be alone. Pondering if I will always be alone. Knowing that I can be alone and yet I don’t want to always be alone. My anxiety has been replaced with a sense of wondering curiosity as I look at the world through peaceful, questioning doe eyes. After spending a decade with my exhusband and a year and a half in another deeply committed relationship I have started to wonder who I am when I’m not someone’s other half.

Soon enough I’ll stop hovering between the lands of knowing and pondering. I’ll find my way, I’m sure of it. In the meantime I just keep running.

Well…. And dating…

 

***

 

“I just don’t know if there’s a future with this guy. He’s super nice and I could talk to him for hours, but there’s just not enough chemistry. No spark.”

Play the field, Kass!! There’s nothing wrong with that. HAVE A LITTLE FUN. You’re just dating around….”

Wait, what?! No way in hades did I see that pearl of wisdom being chucked in my direction. My Newport-summering, paddle-playing, J.McLaughlin-wearing mother just told me to ‘play the field.’ Are we in the upside-down? What on Earth is going on here?

A few months ago my mama said I should play the field, so play the field I have. I met my husband when I was 19 years old so this dating business is brand new to me. Over the past few months I’ve been on all sorts of dates with several gentleman. I’ve drank a lot of coffee, gone ice skating on Frog Pond, hiking in World’s End, been serenaded, gone running along the Charles and even tried out a Core Power yoga class. One dude even baked me a turkey pot pie on the second date. I’ll admit that fellow was a little left of center. As I held the pie in my hands, I met his excited boyish gaze with my own concerned puzzled expression. My furrowed brow and pursed lips could have spoken for themselves, but my mouth opened and words fell out to fill the awkward silence between us. “Is. It. Safe?”

Ahh, the wide world of dating. Fun times had by all most.

Over the past few months I’ve actually had a ton of fun. Simply put, it feels really good to laugh again. Even though I haven’t found a partner I have met some really great men. Oh snap, maybe my Mama was right. Well, half right. I’m a lady and I assure you this is not a foray into a Sex in the City crossover blog containing my exploits.

Just this past weekend I went on a date with a wonderful fellow I’ve known for quite some time. He serenaded me with a guitar and his rendition of Bon Jovi’s Jersey Girl (swoon), cooked me dinner and made me laugh throughout the night. It was good fun. We sat there on his couch chitter-chatting and before I knew it he threw out the R- word. “I’ve never been in a relationship with a woman with a daughter.” I nearly spit out my wine as I threw my palm in the air and sarcastically erupted, “Easy there sailor, you haven’t even held my hand yet. Let’s just focus on getting through dinner.” Relationship? Am I ready for a relationship? I feel like I should be jumping for joy. A kind man who loves running and plays the guitar and used the R-word in my general direction. But instead I feel like a freshman girl who just got asked to senior prom. Of course I want to go. It’s every freshman girl’s dream to be asked, but everyone knows what happens at prom!! I may be a girl who wants to dance, but I don’t think I’m ready for this. No, I know it in my heart- I’m not ready for prom or the R-word right now.

When did I become the stereotypical man who is afraid of commitment?

Dating. I can handle dating.

Damn it. Mama was right again.

***

Sunday morning trail runs at Blue Hills.

 

It started at the 5k I ran a few weeks ago: the quiet. My soul, traditionally plagued with the full-bodied uncertainty of a stormy sea, was uncharacteristically at peace at the starting line. The race started and I lept forward with fury. For the first time in a long time my thoughts weren’t saturated in desperate emotions. No mantras. No race plan. A beautiful tranquility filled my soul where a storm once raged.

JUST RUN.

My eyes rested the road ahead. My jaw was stiff and frozen. My lungs burned.

JUST RUN.

The simplicity of my thoughts were empowering, but I didn’t need to be empowered. I just needed to run. I felt strong, determined and free. Running has always been the easy part of my day, and this day was no different. A local Quincy race on a bitterly cold day of -15 degrees I nabbed second place overall, first place for woman and a shiny new 5k personal record of 19:48.

JUST RUN.

Maybe it really is that simple.

I swear to you: trail running is easier than dating.

 

Somewhere in the midst of repaving my life running 10 miles has become effortless. Deciding to hit the trails for 2.5 hours on Sunday morning is as easy as taking a breath of fresh air. There’s no real decision to be made. The run will happen no matter what; it’s deciding what route to take on the rest of life’s windy roads that leaves me puzzles.. Like I said, running is the easy part of my day. With each passing day, date, R-word and turkey pot pie thrown my way things becomes a little clearer. I move farther away from pondering and closer towards knowing that my heart is still healing. I can’t ask someone else to fix my broken heart. It needs time to heal on its own.

I don’t want to be alone, but I need to know that I can survive alone.

I may want to love and be loved. I want to be in a deeply committed relationship one day, but not today.

This is not the end. From on my knees make me a Hercules.

 ***

I’ve lost a grip on where I started from
I wish I’d thought ahead and left a few crumbs
I’m on the hunt for who I’ve not yet become
But I’d settle for little equilibrium
There is a war inside my heart gone silent
Both sides dissatisfied and somewhat violent
The issue I have now begun to see
I am the only lonely casualty

This is not the end though

‘Cause I have sent for a warrior
From on my knees, make me a Hercules
I was meant to be a warrior 

Lyrics from Hercules by Sarah Bareilles.

 

Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Dating? Nahhhhhh… RUNNING.

-Kass

I write my posts in my journal and eventually type them out 🙂

formats

The Windshield

I’m pretty sure the universe mandates truckloads of parental advice to be delivered post-heartbreak. Maybe the delivery will help re-establish the PH-balance of the soil in my soul or something. Who knows. Right after the break-up my mom talked to me endlessly about love and life dispensing her thoughts and feelings on how great I am….. young I am… I’ll find someone new… so much life to live ahead of me blah blah blah.. Most of her words just wafted over my head and dissipated into oblivion. I’ve heard these things. I know these things. At the time I was just choosing to ignore them… well, some days I still do. Regardless she did say something interesting that stuck.

“Kass, you have to envision your life like that of a car. When you drive you look through the windshield, right? The windshield is your future. It holds future roads you haven’t ran, paths you have yet to uncover, memories that will unfold and people you have yet to meet. The windshield is big because there is SO MUCH to see.

The past, where you’ve been before, the roads you’ve traveled- well, that’s found in the rear-view mirror. It’s important, of course. The past memories you’ve made, the experiences you’ve had are what make you, YOU. Of course they are important. But they represent just a piece of who you are. YOU are in control of who you will become and where you want to go. The rear-view is small for a reason Kass. 

Your future has so much to offer but you have to look forward in order to get there. If you look in the rear-view too much you won’t get anywhere new. In fact, you’ll crash. You have to look forward Kass. Keep looking forward.” 

 

It’s been nearly three months since my mama uttered these words and yet here I am repeating them daily to myself. “Look forward Kass. Don’t look back, you’ll crash. Just look forward. I’ve been looking forward as much as humanly possible to create something new for myself in 2018.

 

The door is open, bitches…. even though it’s closed in this pic ~ getting ready for a full day of work at the Door is Open counseling center 🙂

 

In so many ways 2017 was an amazing, outstanding year.

Professionally I reentered the clinical field and have been working to develop my skills as a licensed therapist with a caseload of approximately 30-35 individual adult clients. The work is hard but the clients are amazing. Slowly but surely I’m chipping away at building my own career and standing on my own two feet.

 

The Lone Runner got a logo this year and tshirts for all athletes. Yay team. 🙂

Personally/professionally I developed amazing relationships with my Lone Runner athletes and coached many of them to PR’s

*Laura S PR’ed in the 5k and half marathon successfully completed her first MARATHON at Chicago!!!

*Jillian ran a 2 minute PR at Philadelphia 26.2 and a 5k PR.

*Kristi L PR’ed AND Boston Qualified at Hartford Marathon in October.

*Mary Beth completed her FIRST marathon at Chicago 26.2.

*Julie L in Florida PR’ed in the 5k, 10k, half AND completed first full marathon at Disney last weekend!

*Sarah M from Rhode Island took 20 MINUTES off of her previous marathon PR at Chicago this fall and PR’ed in the 5k and 10k in 2017.

 

It’s not just the PR’s that made 2017 an amazing year for coaching, it was the relationships that evolved out of working so closely with my athletes. Even though we live far apart together we tackle navigating how to fit in our runs as mothers, employees and even on RIDICULOUSLY cold (or hot) weather conditions. They are one amazing group of athletes and I am honored to be their coach and close friend.

 

That time I negative split the 2017 Boston Marathon. Wahooooo!

 

Running.  In 2017 I ran 2701 total miles, which is an average of 225 miles a month and an average of 56.25 miles a week! That’s a lot of miles!! I may not have ran a PR in 2017, but made some amazing memories. I ran the Boston Marathon in 3:25 and Chicago in 3:24 and countless other half marathons and other races including the Easter States 20 Miler, Black Cat 10 miler, Suftown Half Marathon in RI, Frosty Half Marathon, Iron Horse half in CT, Strawberry Shortcake 10k, etc. So many miles, so many memories.

 

***

 

Now that we’re in 2018 I’m committed to looking forward through the windshield. I’ve been working really hard over the past three months to rebuild myself. So much of my life and my identity was wrapped up in my previous relationship that when it collapsed I stood there among the debris with a blank expression on my face asking myself, “What do I do now?” The dust has settled and I know what I need to do during 2018.

All the races, bitches.

Seriously!! Well, sort of. I need to invest in myself. I need to live my life exactly how I want to live it. I will not wait for a relationship to evolve in order to start living my life. I can run races on my own. I can go to the movies on my own. I can make real live, adult decisions about my car, my finances, my parenting style on my own. I will not wait to be saved by a man. I will figure this shit out on my own, even if I make a crap ton of mistakes along the way (and I’m fairly certain I will, yay adulting!).

How does that translate into all the races? Well, it’s January and for the most part I have planned out the vast majority of the races I will run in 2018. I’m not waiting to be told how I will spend my weekends; I will create my own path, my own plan.

So, what races am I running??

 

SSYMCA Frozen 5k 2018 with several Lone Runners: Lisa G, Laura S, Laurie S and me. Not pictured: Flower.

*I started off 2018 with a 5k PR at the YMCA Frozen 5k last weekend!! It was -15 degrees out, by far the coldest I have ever raced in an miraculously I finagled a PR!!! I ran a 19:49, 6:22 pace (a solid 8 seconds faster than my previous 19:58 PR- I will take it!) .

*Next up: Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler with my athletes and friends, Mary-Beth, Sarah M and Eric W. 🙂 yay!!

*GUESS WHAT MOM AND DAD I’M RUNNING AN ULTRA! My friend and BADASS mother runner, Sarah Slater has been winning pretty much every 50 and 100 miler she’s been running over the past year. Since she lives in CT I don’t see her too often. Soooo, when she told me that she’s running a 6 hour timed trail race in Canton, MA in March (To Hale and Back) and asked me if I wanted in I couldn’t say no. I figure that at the very least I’m in for 20 miles and then I’ll see where I’m at. I’ll write more about this adventure in the future. How does this impact my current training? I’M KEEPING MY VOLUME HIGH. Much higher than usual for this time of year. But honestly, I’m just going to hang with my bud for as long as humanly possible and we’ll see what happens on the trail.

*Newport half marathon in April

*Sugarloaf marathon in May

*Next fall: the current plan is to do Philly Marathon!

 

And away we go!

 

So I have something else INCREDIBLY EXCITING to announce!!! I just started a 1.5 year long certificate program at John F. Kennedy University in California in Sport Psychology. My first course? Kinesiology. I have weekly reading, papers, tests- everything. I am determined to merge my passions of mental health and running to be able to work with mother runners and hopefully student athletes in the future to aid in improving mental fitness during performance based events. Registering for this program is a huge personal and financial investment. It’s a leap of faith, but it feels right. Sooooo we’ll see what happens!

 

Thanks for the easel and permanent paint grandma 😉

I am filling up my weekends how I want to fill them to be filled. On the weeks I have Lilly we read Harry Potter, paint, bake and make music videos when we’re trapped in the apartment during a snow storm. Muhahaha.. And the weeks I don’t have her? Well, I’m working hard to create a life I want to live, a life I’m proud of and one that feels nourishing. Signing up for this 1.5 year long certificate program in Sport Psychology and registering for all the races throughout the year is a start.

I will not wait for life to happen to me. I will happen to life.

I will no longer be passive in my life. I will be an active participant in my life. And I will choose how I want to live it. 🙂

If I happen upon a gentleman caller who (as my friend and athlete Lisa says…) is “worthy of me” then fantastic. I’m open to meeting and dating gentlemen. I’m open to being courted. TBC, girl gotta eat! But I’m not going to have my world center around finding a man. I don’t need a relationship to live a happy life. I don’t want to be alone, but I am learning that I CAN be alone if I have to. I can do this. I will do this. I am doing this.

Can’t stop. Won’t stop. (looking forward)

Yours truly,

The Lone Runner.

I hope your Sunday morning is full of rainbows, unicorns and many, many miles <3

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Frosty Half Marathon Race Recap

The Lone Runner team dinner.

 

This past weekend was EXACTLY what I needed.  It reminded me of why I not only love to run, but also how running can bring complete internet strangers together to become friends. Did I say friends? Because I really mean family.  My athletes, near and far, have seen me through a divorce,  leaving The Run Formula to start The Lone Runner coaching company, being a single mom, a new flame and subsequent heartbreak and I have seen them through pregnancies (Molly and Adrienne), nagging injuries, more tummy issues on the run than they’d care to admit ;), getting engaged and married (Dana, Kinsey, Grace and Bree in 2 weeks!!), new jobs, moves across the country, challenges with their own partners, post-partum depression, anxiety- everything. You name it and we’ve been through it together. No conversation is off limits. I aim to create a judgment free-coaching experience full of transparency where my athletes can (if they want to) share with me the challenges of their lives that are impacting their ability to focus on completely their training plan as written. Life stress is real stress and until runners can realize that the rest of your life will impact the quality of your runs (and vice versa too!) then there is an entire area for improvement that is missing from one’s running experience.

 

Me, Lisa and Sarah. These ladies are my EARLY runners. As full-time working mamas they are ON THE ROAD by 4:30 AM most mornings. They might live in different states, but the time stamp on their Strava motivates them to get their a** on the road. 😉 Sole sisters.

 

 

Mary Beth and Adrienne. These are my ladies with new babies!! ONE YEAR after having her beautiful daughter Mary Beth successfully completed the Chicago Marathon!!! I also had the pleasure to coach Adrienne through seven months her pregnancy. AMAZING running mamas. 🙂

 

The vast majority of my athletes are people who read this blog and simply reached out via email or message. At one point in time these athletes were complete internet strangers who share similar passions to my own: running, laughing, pushing forward no matter what. Well, internet strangers no more! About every six months I try to get my local athletes together for a team dinner to meet each other and welcome any new athletes into the mix. On Saturday night about 10 of my athletes came in from various parts of Florida, Rhode Island and Massachusetts to celebrate their hard work, meet each other and eat their faces off at delicious Rustic Kitchen in Hingham. I felt- heck, I continue to feel so honored to be the mama duck of this growing tribe of amazing runners. We all run different distances, paces and places- but WE. ALL. RUN. We all face difference challenges- emotional, financial, personal- but WE. ALL. RUN. We all know that if we don’t make time for our goals, then they will never be reached. We are tribe of passionate, real, goofy, fun-loving runners and I am so immensely lucky to be surrounded with their energy and spirit on a daily basis.

To be clear: we also fight like family. Oh yes! New chickadees often throw tantrums on the road and challenge authority – but I’m the mama duck. No one messes with BIG MAMA–so I just squawk at them a few times and put them in their place. BOOM! (as long as they’re not wearing aviator sunglasses and intimidate the crap out of me ;)).

 

***

Post Race smiles.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I ran the Chicago Marathon in October and my body has felt surprisingly spry since then! Why? I HAVE NO IDEA, but I’m rolling with it! Maybe it’s the small weight loss, or being more rested from not commuting to CT every weekend or maybe my body is truly adapting to the physical rigors of marathon training. Honestly, IT DOESN’T MATTER to me! Muahhahahaha. My conversational pace has been hovering in the 7:50-8 min pace range and a comfortable tempo has been at a 7:05-7:10 pace (as opposed to 8:20-830 and 7:20-730, respectfully). I feel like I’m getting fitter and very close to racing a half PR; when my athlete and friend Julie L. said she was going to fly up to Boston for Saturday’s team dinner and run Sunday’s Frosty Half in Raynham I just had to join in on the fun.

On Sunday morning Julie and I drove the 30 minutes down to Raynham Middle School to race the Frosty Half Marathon. My goal was to aim for 6:55 splits and theoretically break my previous PR of a 1:32:02. I was close!! Kinda… sorta…. well not really.

The race was a complete shit show. No, seriously.

Maybe it was race day nerves or the previous night’s pasta dinner with the team. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. Within 2 miles of starting the race I was in uncharted territory: I was going to need to stop for a (cough cough) bathroom break. First and second place took off down the road in their own speedy battle. I watched from afar as the ran side by side throwing down 6:45-6:50’s. Bye bye ladies. I’ll hang out here in 6:55-7 land in third place. Wait, I’M IN THIRD PLACE!!! Third place in a half- wahooooo!!  … Ohhhh my stomach… what on Earth is going on?”

I tried to ignore the discomfort for as long as possible, but by the time I was at mile 5 I knew I was going to have to use the facilities. But here’s where there was a problem: where exactly ARE the facilities??? I have never had this issue before so I didn’t look at the race map pre-race. So I did what any shameless runner would do: I hauled ass to the woods and dropped trou. I estimate that I lost about 30 seconds in this side hustle, just long enough for me to witness the fourth place female to zoom by me standing still. Oh no you don’t! I pulled myself together, hustled out of the woods and quickly took back third place.

But then it happened again. By mile 7 my stomach was in knots yet again. I can not believe this is happening. Where can I stop?  Can I stop? Should I suffer through? It’s only six more miles to the finish. Mayyyyybe.  I trotted along at a speedy, yet painful 7:10 pace as I did the math in my head. Six miles times seven minute miles…. that’s at least 42 more minutes!! Oh hell no. I won’t wait that long. Heck, I CAN’T wait that long!! Into the woods I went. Dropped trou I did. I shrugged my shoulders and shamelessly waved to the fourth place female runner as she spotted me crouched in the woods. And away she went down the road.

As I shuffled back onto the road to regain stride my mind began to battle itself. Should I even try any more? A PR is obviously out the window.. and yet the legs feel good and theoretically the stomach is *fingers crossed* settling down. While I was talking to myself I started to actually pick up the pace.  Even though my mind wasn’t sure if it wanted to put in the mental effort of racing for another 40+ minutes my body apparently did. I rolled with it. Sure, a PR was off the table. Who cares? It’s JUST a race. But, IT’S STILL A RACE! That means that I will do the best my body will allow given whatever crap happens. (See what I did there? bahahaha). A half marathon PR may have out of reach, but that didn’t mean that third place had to be gone too.

I told myself something I always tell my athletes: run the mile you’re in. I stopped worrying about IF I could hold the pace for the final five miles and focused on the mile and the moment I was in. I could see third place in the distance, maybe 20-25 seconds ahead. My attention shifted to closing the gap between us. At the tail end of mile 8 I came up behind her at the tail end of mile 8. Do I pass now? Do I hover behind her? Was she slowing down? Surging ahead? Where was she at mentally? If I pass her will she surge ahead to maintain third?  I typically run for myself and my own race times, so the mental component of racing against other runners on the road is fairly foreign. Ultimately I focused on how my own body felt in that mile and it felt GOOD. I threw down, surged ahead and took back third place just as we passed the mile 9 marker. Miles 8 and 9 were completed at a 6:52 and 6:59 pace.

Mile 11: A sweaty Kass is a happy Kass.

I wasn’t going to PR. I wasn’t going to have the race of my life. But I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to give my best effort!! To be clear- there are some dark moments when you’re pooping in the woods during a race. Of course I wondered if I should just stop running hard and run my comfy pace. But I couldn’t. That’s a cop-out. I was there to race! So, race I did.

The final miles were completed at: 7:20 (mile 10 hill), 6:58, 6:47, 6:52. And I felt GOOD. I felt insanely good out there for the final miles of the race. I held third place all the way through the finish and ultimately managed a 1:33:06 (7:06 avg) despite my two stops. I estimate that I lost about 60-70 seconds because of those stops. My PR is a 1:32:02. I’m SO CLOSE people. SO. DAMN. CLOSE. I. CAN. TASTE IT!!! Sunday wasn’t my day and that’s completely ok. I’m not angry or sad. I’m not going to dwell; I’m going to laugh my ass off. I crossed the finish line laughing hysterically because somehow I had a pooptastic day and was still able to come in third place at a half marathon!! Who does that??? I’m calling this one a win!

Just keeping it real folks!

Post race I ran back to find my girl Julie. I found her around mile 12 and ran her in to the finish! Somehow she ran the EXACT same time as her previous half PR! She’s amazing and I’m so proud of her. 🙂 You’re amazing Julie- keep pushing!!

Up next: YMCA Frozen 5k in January and you better believe I’m going after a PR (break 19:58). Here’s hoping!!

 

Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Never stop.

Kass

 

***

Overall race thoughts:

I can confidently attest that this race was incredibly well organized: hats to all participants, SO MANY happy, smiling volunteers/police out there on the road to direct the runners, plus a breakfast buffet after the race with sausage (I’m sure there was other food present, but I honestly just honed in on the sausage links).  The Frosty Half is put on The Colonial Road Runners; I would absolutely recommend this to any runners looking for a mostly flat (with a few rollers) half in December!!

 

I GOT AN ANDROGYNOUS TROPHY PERSON!! Please Note: I didn’t do sports in school so this is a BIG deal and makes me the happiest runner girl.