Keep Showing Up Series: Louella Bañez Gilbert

What do we do when our dreams are crushed by a pandemic? For Louella Bañez Gilbert, a healthcare worker by day, who was ready to toe the line at Boston Marathon for the first time, she has shifted her focus while still keeping her marathon dreams alive. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Louella has owned her heartbreak while simultaneously focusing on other outlets that bring her joy, knowing the skills she sharpens now, will prepare her for the challenges of future races.  Thank you for sharing your story, Louella.

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Keeping Showing Up Series: Waiting for Boston

By Louella Bañez Gilbert

With packed bags and boarding passes, we board the plane eastbound proudly adorned in matching jackets. It’s a “right of passage” to this New England state around the 3rd Monday of April. I ready myself with humility for complete immersion in the presence of greatness. “Guess what?” I ask my husband. “We are running one of the most prestigious foot race in the world. This is the holy grail—THE Boston Marathon!”

 

I snap myself awake in the midst of a daydream. I feel robbed. My vision seemed so clear. On March 13, 2020 the Boston Athletic Association announced for the very first time in its 123 years of existence, that the Boston Marathon has been postponed. Selfishly I thought, can I please time travel 5 measly weeks and 3 days into the future without this dreadful reality? For three long years I’ve waited. Can I have a free pass just this once? Hell, can I sell myself to the devil? This would’ve been our firsts. 

 

“Patience is a minor form of despair disguised as a virtue.”

 

On March 4th and my 34th birthday, California’s Governor declared a State of Emergency. A nationwide emergency declaration followed, along with a series of unfortunate events. This can’t be real. We are now living in a worldwide pandemic. With a larger problem at hand, I tried to console myself. I’ve been personally afflicted, but so has everyone else in the world. Everyone experiences their own levels of affliction, but no matter how big or small, nothing should ever be dismissed or diminished. 

 

Everyday at work I am bombarded by new rules, protocols, schedules, and constant updates thanks to this novel Coronavirus. At the hospital there is no escaping its existence. Too many changes at once is overwhelming, and information overload is real. For my sanity’s sake, sometimes ignorance is bliss. 

 

Running, the one thing that always resurrected me has become a reminder of unfulfilled dreams. With no definitive race schedule in sight, what always felt easy and fluid now feels like a hard, coarse, and conscious effort. Like my MRI patients, I feel a sense of claustrophobia. I have no escape. As time slowly passes, I know I’ve succumbed to my emotions and vulnerability long enough. I give myself no choice but to move on. I must put my mental clarity first. 

 

So, with most of the country with cabin (or covid) fever while under a shelter-in-place order, people are getting creative. “The time you enjoy wasting is not time wasted.” With that said, making memes and tiktoks isn’t really my cup of joe. After I stopped pouting is when I found the things I truly enjoy. I finally found an escape! Although nothing will ever replace the adrenaline rush of training and toeing the line of a marathon, desperate times call for desperate measures—measuring the dimensions for a new quilted blanket made with old race t-shirts, measuring how many yards of rope for a hanging macrame, or how much to water my new succulents and fiddle leaf tree. A new creation brings me peace and clarity. 

 

“The world is but a canvas to our imagination.” 

 

 As content as any introvert would be alone in their own little world, one thing is for sure—“happiness is only real when shared”. I miss my dawn patrol morning crew running into the sunrise. I miss our track jump shots and “runners not running” events. I miss chasing my fun, fast friends. I miss carelessly dancing with live music. I miss those race day jitters, toeing the line, crossing the finish, and post race celebrations. Most of all, I miss planning for the future whether it’s related to running, adventuring, or just friends and family life in general. As I try to live one day at a time, these memories help me remember that it can still and WILL happen again! I hope our times in quarantine not only allow reflection, but action—whether that motion is for yourself, someone else, or the rest of the world. Let your strength and optimism be more contagious than anything in the world. 

 

As I summit heartbreak hill and see the infamous CITGO sign, one more right on Hereford, and left on Boylston! My husband is standing there with open arms as he crossed his own finish line. I can feel the tears, as if at this point I haven’t cried enough already. “WE DID IT!” 

 

Until then, this dream lives on…

 

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How to make a quilted race t-shirt blanket:

  • Gather materials:
    1. 20-25 t-shirts
    2. Sewing machine
    3. 2-3 yards of fleece fabric 
    4. 12” x 10 yards of embroidery stabilizer (fusible preferably)
    5. Push pins (200+)
    6. Cardboard 
    7. Iron (if using fusible stabilizer)
  • Create
  1. Cut cardboard into 12” x 12” squares
  2. Arrange shirts to desired pattern (take a photo)
  3. Cut shirts and embroidery stabilizer measured by cardboard + leave room for error (half inch)
  4. Sew shirts across by rows first 
  5. Sew rows together 
  6. Cut fleece to the sewn quilt size
  7. Sew 3 sides of fleece and quilt together (inside out) 
  8. Flip it right side out
  9. Sew all 4 sides. 

 

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  • How to make a hanging macrame
  1. Find inspiration pattern (Pinterest.com)
  2. Learn knots (I only used 3 types: lark’s head, square, and double half hitch) 
  3. Gather materials
    1. Rope (I used a 220 yard 3mm natural cotton macrame rope for a 23” x 33” piece)
    2. Stick (I used driftwood)
    3. Scissors 
    4. Ruler (optional)
  4. Use one string to tie both ends of driftwood for hanging. (Tip: hang as you work on your piece)
  5. Do lark’s head knots around your drift wood and repeat with multiple strings until your desired length (Tip: It’s good to have an inspiration pattern, but you can use that as guidance, but use your own creativity according to your ability)
  6.  **Warning: practice makes perfect. It’s a back breaking project. You’ll make mistakes and have to re-do multiple times. It takes a lot of patience. 

 

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  • Calligraphy on rocks:
  1. Find smooth medium sized rocks
  2. Wash thoroughly and brush sand/dirt off if necessary 
  3. Go to dafont.com (Font generator) 
    1. Type a word, 
    2. choose a font
    3. Print and use as stencil or use as a guide and free draw. 
  4. Use pencil to draw on rock 
  5. Paint (I used Artistro metallic paint pens) 
  6. Cover with Mod Podge (to make it waterproof or preserve paint longer)

2 thoughts on “Keep Showing Up Series: Louella Bañez Gilbert

  1. What a wonderful article. You are awesome, Lou! Miss seeing you guys, maybe someday soon!
    Love,
    Tom and Sarah

    1. Never give up your dream, Lou! You are stronger for the adversity you’ve overcome. You’ve got this!

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