So you’re graduating! What’s next?

Oddly enough, as I’m driving to a Christmas Party, this thought pops in my head, and tears start rolling down my cheeks. It’s been a few months since I cried. But Maria would have been there. There is no way I would be graduating with my Ph.D. and she WOULDN’T be there. One of our last conversations was about how I needed to put on my ‘big girl panties.’ Maria would have been there.

The truth is I don’t know what is next. I thought I had it all figured out, but I’ve come to realize that life doesn’t work that way. It’s much more complicated than that. What I do know is that I need room to breathe for a while.

Graduate School came at a cost for me. I have worked full time for the entire experience and it was exhausting. I realize plenty of people do this, with families, but it’s not how I ever wanted, envisioned, or hoped to do it. The last year of writing is how I imagine running Badwater (for those uninitiated, it’s a long ass race through the desert that climbs a mountain at the end). It was grueling, I was tired of my committee (my crew), they were tired of me, and it was no longer really a run, but a slow, torturous shuffle to the finish line.

Like Badwater, finishing my Ph.D. left me feeling exhausted, but also confused. I suddenly had time on my hands and while I was emotionally drained, my mind was still too busy to come down. It was a real struggle for the last two months. I didn’t want to talk about it, I didn’t want to see people. I avoided running races and chose to only meet one particular friend for runs because he understood where my head was at and my need for space (thank you Walt). My husband was my saving grace in all of this.

As I am getting ready to graduate this weekend, one thought keeps popping back into my head. Maria would have been there. I am glad that I dedicated my dissertation to her. While such a small, and innocuous thing- her name will always be out there as part of that experience and I think it helps me grieve a little.

But she would have been there. And even now, writing this, I can’t help but cry for the loss of my dear one. In all this time I have worried that I would forget her. Her image is fading for sure, all I have are a few pictures to look at. I am finding that is less important than the things I have learned from her. One can always wish for more time, but I am eternally grateful I was given any with her.

I have learned one thing in all of this. And that is the fact that I have spent the better part of 30+ years doing what others have expected of me and I have let that dictate my decisions in life. I don’t want to do that anymore.

The one thing everyone says about Maria is her love of life. But I think it was more than that. Maria knew who she was as a person and she was unapologetic about it. She would drive me nuts sometimes because I couldn’t always understand her, but Maria was Maria. I am sure she had her own self-doubts, but the woman knew how to take charge of her own life and lived it authentically-whether that made others happy or not.

I think this is something I can learn from her. I am OK with the fact that I don’t know “what’s next?” That answer is real. I am excited to see how life plays out over the next few months because I am sure it will hold surprises for me. I know that I don’t want to do what others expect, or believe I should do. I know I want to live authentically the way that Maria always did.

I miss her. Sometimes I can’t think too much about her, and maybe that sounds harsh, but if I do, all I feel is the Maria sized hole in my heart and soul. Other times I find myself trying to remember every detail that I possibly can, remember every joke from college, every hug we shared. It’s in these moments that I try to keep pieces of her close to me. It is these moments that I try to remember what she taught me in how she lived her life.

Sunday will be hard. Maria would have been there. I miss my dear friend.

She would have been there. That’s all.

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I Get Knocked Down, But I get up again….

Re-posted from my other blog:

Do you ever wonder if your efforts are worth it? Or question why you should keep trying so hard for something that continually just seems out of your reach?

I do. Back in 2008 when I finished my Master’s degree, I just wanted to see how far I could take this academic thing. Was I smart enough, disciplined enough to take on the PhD? Throughout life I have really struggled with what I call “stick to it ness.” The ability to start a project and see it through to its conclusion. In marathon running that shows because for the longest time I would run races on the bare minimum. 20 miler before a marathon? HA! I was lucky if I did a 16 miler. And yet somehow I always managed to finish the race (albeit not feeling so hot).

So I registered and started this PhD thing. 7 years later and I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. And most days I am not convinced I care or it’s worth it. I constantly ask myself if this is a battle worth fighting for, or is it time to call for a retreat?

There is no guarantee that I will find a job as a professor. There is no guarantee that it will lead to some unknown ‘better’ job (what does better even mean anyways)? Most people think it’s snobbish and that you’re full of it and half the time potential employers call you ‘overqualified.’

In other words, what the hell am I doing to myself?! Why have I caused so much stress, taken on so much student debt, and put my life on hold for something that may or may not even provide me with some sort of tangible result?

Do you remember the movie Rocky. If you haven’t seen it before, I would highly recommend that you watch it. Even if someone hasn’t seen it, they know the gist of the movie. Poor man from Philly becomes an underdog and fights Apollo Creed. But Rocky is so much more than that.

Rocky thought he was a loser. Like me, he wasn’t particularly great at finishing the things he started. He had a low self-esteem and really didn’t see that he had the potential to make an important contribution to the world. But of course, then there was that fight with Apollo Creed.

So, like Rocky, I keep getting back up before they count to 10. I keep coming back despite the odds because whether my PhD grants me all my wishes or not, is irrelevant. It’s about the person I am inside and the belief that I can be better and stronger mentally and emotionally than I was the day before.

Finishing my PhD will show me that I CAN be and DO whatever I want in this life. There may be an enormous struggle, and I might fail a number of times, but these three little letters won’t be taken away from me.

In the end, I might be beaten up, bloodied, and unable to see out of one eye, but I will have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I need to stop underestimating myself.

So, I keep fighting-ding round two!

Remembering Maria

shanmaria

It’s been a long time since I posted on this blog. I’ve really been dedicating myself to finishing up my dissertation. I truly am in that home stretch, so all of my time has been focused on accomplishing that goal.

However, something terrible happened in the last couple of weeks that I wanted to write about. I feel the need to share this in order to help me process, so please stick with me.

For my undergraduate degree I attended Denison University. A small, private, liberal arts institution in Granville, Ohio. My freshmen year I decided to go through sorority recruitment, much like many of the other women at Denison. I was ready to meet new people and try a new experience. To take myself out of my comfort zone.

One of the first people I met was a young woman named Maria. When I first met Maria, I was intimidated. Not only was she beautiful, but she was well put-together. The kind of girl I always wanted to be, but never quite knew how to be like. She was well-dressed, had great shoes and carried a brand name handbag. I realize that these are all superficial things, but they certainly caught my eye.

But what really made the first impression for me was how freaking friendly this young woman was. Whether she realized it or not, she knew how to put me at ease. Even though I certainly didn’t have her sense of style and felt a little dumpy next to her, she made me feel welcome and like she was completely interested in what I had to say.

That moment sealed our friendship. Maria and I would be roommates, or hall mates all throughout our undergraduate studies. We shared many laughs together and tears. Maria was always up for an adventure and her laugh was contagious. I am the kind of person that doesn’t like to show emotion much, but when Maria laughed, you just had to smile.

This friendship was built to last, we graduated and moved to separate cities, but Maria, myself and the other women in our little group stayed close. We were there for weddings and babies and new jobs. Slowly we stopped talking as frequently, for Maria and I (I don’t think she ever knew this), but I hit a patch where I just didn’t understand her very well and just didn’t engage in conversation as much. I matured and sought out her friendship once again. Maria was so warm and open, months could go by, but she would talk to you as if it were just yesterday.

I’ve been struggling the last few weeks because we lost Maria. Just yesterday, something great happened at my job and my instinct was to text Maria….I’d forgotten that she wasn’t there. It makes me incredibly sad to think that I can’t share my life with her physically anymore.

My dissertation advisor reminded me that, although she isn’t immediately there anymore, I will always carry her with me. That her friendship was so meaningful that she is a piece of me. And that helps.

If there is one thing that I have taken away it’s to stop letting life get away from me. Maria lived life to the fullest every day. She chased her dreams, she was strong, courageous. She was certainly a good role model. I hope that I can be a little like her in that way.

So, in honor of my friend, I decided that there are two things that I am NOT going to put off anymore. First, I am going to finish my dissertation and attend graduation. Second, I am going to register for and start a 100 mile ultra. Whether I finish or not is neither here nor there, I have never had the courage to start. The closest I have ever come was the Hoosier Hundred. But, I am going to register for and start an official 100 mile ultra-event. I am going to accomplish both of these things before the one year anniversary of when we lost her.

Maria was the kind of person that kicked ass and took names. She pulled you along for the ride and you either held on or you got out of her way. If Maria had a guide to life, it would have two things 1) Be true to your family and friends and 2) Love life.

I’m going to take a page out of her handbook.

Hello from Buckeye Bunny!

Hi everybunny! My name is Shannon, a Columbus native who has never left the great state of Ohio, and who loves her state despite (because of) its quirkiness.  My love of bunnies and running started almost around the same time.  I started running so I wouldn’t put on the freshmen 15 (which didn’t work) and DH adopted my first bunny for me in 2005.

While no one would ever guess that these two passions of mine have merged, they somehow always seem to come together.  In 2011,  I ran the Columbus Marathon and raised $600 for the Columbus House Rabbit Society and in 2014, I ran 100k (62 miles) and raised $3,000 for the Ohio House Rabbit Rescue’s Be The Voice Campaign.

I love running and I love my rescue bunnies.

Besides my husband, I share my home with three rescue buns.

Thurmmie “Tan Tan”

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Bert, the bunny

Bert

and Mandi Girl!

mandi

 

Each one of these cuties brings me so much joy and they have such unique personalities.

As a runner I have finished 7 marathons, two ultras and a bunch of halves, 10k’s and 5k’s.  I also am part of a local group called the Fleet Feet Pace Team.

I am also the Race Director for the Run Your Buns Off 5k and Hopper One Mile.

As you can see my love of running and rescue rabbits seems to have come full circle.

Besides the bunnies, I am a doctoral candidate at The Ohio State University, studying education and the history of educational reform.  I love to travel and hope to one day live on the beach next to the ocean (preferably the Gulf).

Recently I changed the name of my blog to more appropriately reflect me as an individual; I am calling it Buckeye Bunny: An Ohio Girl who Runs for Buns.

I hope you will join along for my running journey and enjoy the antics of my bunny friends along the way.

 

Hop to it!!!!

 

PS- Shout out to my Grams, who always reads and comments on my blog, she nurtured my passion for writing from an early age.

Fleet Feet Columbus Pace Team

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There is so much going on right now. I am writing a dissertation, working full time, my husband just started new work as well. So things are a bit of a whirlwind. Running used to be my way of staying sane despite what might be going on around me. Lately even that hasn’t felt as good as it used to. Every time I go out to run I feel like I am taking time away from the other activities that I should be doing (the dissertation). For a while I gave up running regularly and I found it just didn’t sit well.

What keeps me moving is the Pace Team I am part of, through Fleet Feet Columbus. We participate in many of the local runs around Columbus Ohio that are organized by M3S Sports. Both M3S and Fleet Feet are all about celebrating the active and healthy lifestyle. So, the races are typically a giant party-a well-organized giant party. This past weekend the race was the NHL 5k and there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 participants. In May, I will be pacing the Cap City Half Marathon again which has close to 15,000 participants.

I love every minute of pacing. I love getting to meet new runners and learn more about their ambitions or goals. Sometimes it’s their first race, some are coming back after an injury- and some have been at it for quite a while and are looking for a new PR.

I love being a part of their journey. It reminds me of why I started running races in the first place. The camaraderie. For there is nothing like the spirit of a race.

Oh, and I get another chance to wear my ears and tail!!!

pace4

 

The Columbus Marathon and the Six Hour Cutoff

For the record, my first marathon finish at Air Force in 2006 was 6:01.  I have been a ‘back of the packer’ since then with all seven of my marathon finishes being over 5 hours.  The year I had the best training I still finished in 5:19.  I am a reasonably healthy, younger adult, so I realize I should be improving (or could be) upon that finish time.

Recently, the Columbus Marathon made the decision to change their cutoff time for the marathon race from 7 hours to 6 hours, thereby essentially eliminating walkers, and slower runners, from the race.  Other changes were made to the race, but this one change alone has seemed to stir the pot a bit.

There are (understandably) some very upset people who feel dedicated and supportive of their hometown race that can no longer participate due to the changes.  I can empathize with that.  But the more worrisome issue is the nastiness that has arisen from this.  This grumpiness is not one sided.  It comes from both the turtles and the hares.

When determining whether or not to participate in a race, I certainly look at the course closing time.  I have never been angry, or upset by one that has a faster cutoff time, I just choose not to participate.  In fact, this year, I was registered for the Revel Rockies race which has a course closing time of 5:40 because they can’t stop traffic from using the roads.  As a slower runner, I knew that there was a very real chance that I would be pulled from the course, but it was a challenge that I wanted to take on.  Sadly, altitude sickness prevented me from participating, so I never got to see if the wagon would pick me up or not J

Ultimately race directors have to make decisions and work within certain parameters.  They do their best to put on an event that is inclusive and welcoming to as many people as possible, but the fact of the matter is they have a business to run.

What DOES NOT need to happen is the plethora of negativity that has erupted as a result of these changes.  Pardon my French, but there is enough terrible sh*t going on in the world and running ain’t one of these problems.  To be a little tongue in cheek, this is what I like to call a #firstworldproblem.  But, in all reality that makes it appear as if I don’t understand and empathize, when that is truly not the case.

As someone who has been at the back of the pack for most of her running career, I can assure you that the nastiness from faster runners is very real.  When I first started I have had some people be very rude and demeaning to me because of my pace- I have had to learn to let that go.  I have ALSO had to learn that not everyone who is fast is going to be mean and negative, when in fact so many of them are exceptionally encouraging and inspire me to be my best running self.  Some of them are dear friends.

I tend to lean on the side of being more inclusive when it comes to running events.  The fact of the matter is there is an obesity problem in this country.  Sure, there are people who are perhaps a little out of their element and running distances that are a little ahead of their skill level, but they will figure that out for themselves.   I don’t think that is the majority.  I like to believe that most of the folks who are participating in a marathon (even if they are one and done) are people that simply want to challenge themselves to be the best version of themselves.  They want to be a part of a community of people that value fitness and good health and camaraderie.

In the 10+ years I have been running and competing (mostly participating) in races, I have run the gamut of paces.  At my fastest I could run 8:30 minute miles through a 10k and at my slowest I was trotting at 13.

Running is truly an individual journey, in the end we could all do a little better to be kinder.  Not just with each other, but with ourselves.

Keep plodding (or racing) along my friends.

Disapproving Bun

Check it out! My bunny was honored on the Disapproving Bun page. http://disapprovingbun.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thurmmie “Tan Tan” Morrison

Your dissertation books are taking over my napping spot. And how about you pick a useful different topic, maybe “Bun Chores”, or “How to make a perfect carrotini”??

– Thank you Shannon!

PS: Shannon is an avid runner and started a very interesting initiative: Run For The Buns. Find out more at
Www.runforthebuns.wordpress.com and www.facebook.com/runforbuns