November 2016 – the lost month.

I finished the MCM and the next morning woke up to the news of a heartbreaking death.  Traveling home trying to figure out how to explain the unexplainable to our kid, and then feeling my way through it with the help of a lot of support locally.  We went to a memorial that held a deep personal isolation in sharp contrast to the 100s that were there to weep together.

There was an election.

I entered the lottery for the Chicago marathon

I surfaced in time to travel to Illinois for a lot of great days with people who I adore, generally eyeball deep in logistics and love which is a good place to be.  I saw Hamilton, with different eyes than I would have a month earlier, but it was still amazing.

I went home for a minute.

I went back to Illinois for a conference, the presentation and panels were awesome.  The company was great.

My running went to crap.  My acro wasn’t available.  My fitness fell, but nowhere near where I was a few years ago – a strange thing indeed.

Hi December, I’m trying to be back in the world.

An unbidden thought, “Well good, now I can go back to using those teeth whitening strips.”

What the hell brain?

It reminds me of a moment when I was working full-time again after two years of reduced hours, after about six weeks of full time work I thought, “If I had fewer hours I’d cook more” which I had just spent years proving was NOT EVEN SORT OF TRUE.

So, post-marathon brain has a number of things to catch up.  Some of it is just adult rigor that I had been putting off in the weeks running (ha!) up to the marathon.  Some of it is a random assortment of things I can do “now”, none of which are *true* in any sense because I run before dawn and what I can do before dawn is limited to running and sleeping.  I can’t get up at 4:30 and read work related books.

Three days after the fact, my calves are still a little sore and honestly – I’m ready for a run except that I don’t know how my toenail will feel (I expect it will be bad) and I’m ready to get back at … something.

I just don’t know what.

Maybe whiter teeth.

(Tips, truths and stuff I don’t want to forget in … sequence-ish except when it isn’t)

So, the marathon was perfect.  It took forever, but I did it and I loved it.  I want to do more but I got really lucky and have lots to improve on before I try and level up.

Tips –

Ditch layer should be a bathrobe filled with tissues.  First, those layers are often donated somewhere locally useful and a reasonable bathrobe can be nice to have, second it helps with leg warmth and sitting on the ground when you get there hours before the start, third it should be filled with tissues because even the Marines can’t stay ahead of the portapottypaper needs.

After struggling with nutrition for months about 80% of what I consumed on the course was what they handed me.  It worked out fine but there were also a lot “comfort stops” so I was never too far away when my stomach went sour.  I carry my own because my Chattanooga half fell down on some basics so I doubt I’ll ever fully trust again but MCM was good to go.

Engage with those who took time to disrupt their schedule to be on the side of road to clap.  I did more high fives yesterday than I have in the last 20 years combined.  If they were young and their sign was gibberish I was elated.  If I should hit the sign for a power up you bet I did.  When I was tired I started asking Marines for high fives and they ma’am’ed me and it was great because it was “grown adult ass woman” ma’am instead “you could be my grammy” ma’am.

Look up.  I was running through the national mall with practically nobody around and often forgot to look up and see the amazing views and monuments.  If you picked a race for it’s location – treat it like you did, not like it is a well trod training run.

Salt sticks.  Everybody has sugar.  Nobody has enough salt.  I gave two different runners a spare salt stick and one of them gave me credit for saving their run because she was cramping at mile 14.

Truths –

I cried.  A lot.  Weeping buckets before the start, and three times on the course.  Why?  So imagine how you felt before you got married, especially if you Had A Wedding that took a ton of planning.  Now, instead of the “but at the end of the day you’ll have a spouse” statement put … nothing.  No confident answer.  Hospitalization is one answer, a medal and a banana is another, a PR, a train wreck … it is ALL available. At the end of the day – the day will be over.  Now move through that day.  I was BARELY trained enough, there was a heat warning, and a spot that the struggle bus would pick me up if I didn’t make it fast enough.

Oct 1 Dave saved my race because he had just the right words when I needed them.  Tracy did the same the night before the race.  Lots of people said lots of good things all along the way but those two moments were pivotal.

I was giddy the whole time, which seems in contradiction to the crying but I don’t think it really was.  I was accepted into this race in Feb of 2015 and deferred 2015 when I was clearly not going to be ready in time (damn was I RIGHT about that) – so it has been the better part of two years that this has shaped and tugged at what I was doing.  All the miles in all the weather and all the times it would have been easier not to – but I ran anyway.

I have never been in a race where I didn’t see at least one person injured, and twice that has been relatively early in the race.  The ambulance came for the head injury at mile 7, anything is possible on race day.

What started  as “I’m training for a marathon” has morphed into “I’m a runner”.  Might not be for the rest of this week – but I am.

I’m super funny in the first 10 or 15 steps getting up out of a chair, airplane seat, etc today.

To remember –

Sunrise over the Pentagon was really pretty.

At the start everyone was motionless and breathless during a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.

The helicopters at the start were awesome.

The giant piles of ditch clothing put a new perspective on how many people were running.

Seeing the Howitzer rolled back after the start was just cool.

The man with the dog at the bridge

The lady with the unicorn suit.

The sloth couple

How pretty it was when I remembered to look up

This is going to be too long a list of bullet points – suffice it to say I did it and as of this specific moment I still have all my toenails.

So far.

I did it.  I ran with the marines, at 43 year old.  I’m delighted.

 

 

 

Ok, I’ve reframed “taper” in my mind and made it less about my legs and more about all the torn up parts of me.  It seems that, for me, taper and nesting are really damn similar.  Which is to say – this is some exhausting mental stuff ya’ll.

So… I’m teary eyed these days.  I’m watching a lot of MCM videos to see if I can desensitize myself to the helicopters and howitzer start.  It isn’t working yet.  I’m reading about the temporary nature of pain and trying to make the grand words equate to my hips.

I’m really proud of what I’ve done but with less than 10 training miles between me and race day I made the lists of things aren’t related in any way except their proximity in time.

  • The Cubs are in the World Series.
  • A nation shaping election is on the horizon
  • November 2 would be 20 years in a parallel universe.
  • November 11 will be two years without dad.

That is some sentimental stuff up there.  So.  I saw a two-second meditation video the other day, that every time I recenter my monkey brain on my breath I’ve taken a moment to meditate.

I’m doing that a lot right now.

I’m happy to have the support of those around me who are loving me while I spaz and have my back.  I feel lucky.

One breath. One step. One mile. One run at a time.

This sucks.

I know I can Beat the Bridge.  That will be ok.  After I do that I’ll have another 8 miles and … I will be covering new ground (ha!) for those miles.  It feels like a lot (in large part because it IS a lot).

Tapering is about letting my body sew strength into all those tentative connections made in the long runs of recent weeks.  What it FEELS like is a long list of grievances and heavier thighs, shins with pin pricks of sensation, a left ankle made of crumpled paper, feet … oh my feet.

Food is important, but with shorter mind clearing runs I am not “eating for tomorrow” but instead I’m “scarfing for this strange emotion I’m having RIGHT NOW.”

This is a traveling run for my whole family and so logistics need sorting but I approach them and my mind twitches because it is 10 days away.  The biggest part of a first marathon is that your brain doesn’t know that it is possible, so legs (and feet) are just a minor part of the conversation.  I’m not sure My Mind & I have ever had a conversation quite like this one.

Ten days.

Absolutely right to try.

There is a difference between pain laced with fear and anxiety about true danger and pain that is an expected experience of work.

With my shield or on it.

Holy shit I’m nervous and excited and pretty sure in this victory there will be a measure of failure as well and that is true with a lot.

I’m a mess.  This sucks.  I’m so happy right now.  Miles on miles.  The People’s Marathon in Washington DC.  I DID THIS.  I may even cross the finish line.

I’m done building single run mileage for the month.  I enter the nomadic zone of The Taper.  I don’t know, yet, how I feel about this.

I know that I’ve put in many (MANY) miles.  With the exception of something less than 50 total in the last year, those miles have included plantar fasciitis in at least one foot.  I know that right now, my biggest risk factor is my left foot which is what has made me stop in each of my last three runs.

I know that I keep learning about food and fluid but I haven’t found something that feels like a magic mixture.

Thinking about that today brought an interesting idea to the front of my mind…. it turns out that I had been waiting for this tremendous amount of work to be comfortable and pleasant.  I suppose some day that it might, that certainly became true for the 4-5 mile distance on nice days.  Still, somehow I was waiting for the addition of 4-5 miles at the END of an already long run to just be … easy.

I’d like to KNOW that I can do this, and that is unknowable at the moment.  I know that I’ve done a lot to prepare and that I’m trying to be diligent about things like food and rest and shoes.  I know that on a good day by foot can go a distance, and on a bad day it can do something else.  The fact that I didn’t train in rain AT ALL this summer was great as it happened but might not be ideal.  The day will hold what it does and I will show up as who I am.

It might work, it might not.

In the end – I’ve worked, and I’m glad for all the moments of it.  It would be neat to finish this race, and if it isn’t this one it will be the next one, or a different distance, or a different day.

I don’t get to know if I can do it – I just know that I was absolutely right to try.

 

  1.  I can’t form even a vague narrative right now.  Plainly obvious, and true.
  2. Mom and Husband sent me to Boston for the weekend for my birthday – very very awesome.  Totally delighted.
  3. Except.
  4. My great-aunt has died.  The holder of elegance in my original family and the originator of a look that would set your hair on fire.  In my mind I see her basement in Sleepy Hollow (I shall always aspire to carpet that beautiful), her dining room on Blue Jay Trail, and the beautiful mirror on her dresser.  She will always reside within a westminster chime.
  5. I’m 11 miles from my first 100 mile month, with my second 100 mile month hot on its heels. So yeah.  Running.
  6. Work is opening up a chance for me to do some great new stuff.  I feel ready.  Mostly.
  7. I need more weekend time.
  8. Also a nap
  9. A personal chef.
  10. Oh yeah, time to get a new stove.  Like.  Now.
  1.  After three years without, we now own a microwave again.  It started as an experiment when ours died.  After a couple of weeks of strangeness it was easy, and now, after three years, we have one again.  Kiddo asked me who I thought would use it most – I was teaching him how to make his own cheese quesadillas.  I have a good idea who will use it most.   😀
  2. As a subset of #1, I am strangely interested in where frozen burrito technology has gone in the last few years.
  3. With the arrival of school – the summer is over.  I feel like I missed this one.  I often do.  The definition of “summer” in my mind isn’t my youth, and isn’t my adulthood, and is influenced by advertisements.  There was plenty of ice cream but not enough water, not enough sunburns, and not enough sleeping late.  Will try again next year.
  4. I did get to see a Broadway show this year (Fun Home, closes Sept 10, should run forever, was wonderful).  AND I got to see a live Ham4Ham but didn’t win the lottery in NYC to see the show.  I’d like to say THAT is a tradition and that I’ll get back for a weekend next year.  Ideal state would be to see two shows, whatever is getting worked on at The Public (see also, Fun Home & Hamilton) and something on Broadway.  It is ok about Hamilton though, we have tickets for Chicago.
  5. I have paid a stupid amount of money for a photograph at Dragon*Con.  I am equally stupidly excited about it and I’m trying to find the exactly perfect geek girl shirt which means I’m still actually in 7th grade.
  6. It is a dense birthday time among my tribe which is FUN!
  7. My kid will be 8 in five days and I’m delighted.
  8. I learned from my sis-in-law about how to be an awesome parent-of-a-birthday kid and we are putting it into action this year.
  9. I’m running a lot, stuff hurts, it is hard work, I love it.
  10. I like the idea of stopping at #10.
  11. BUT.  I’m participating in a conference (as an intensive CEU credit garnering act, a moderator, and a panelist) in December and I am STOKED.

 

 

I am the author of my own sense of helplessness.

I heard three women talking today, they were people who were actively in the moment trying to do good things for dogs in need of adoption locally.  Coincidentally, we adopted one of our dogs from them, and I am not the biggest fan of the organization but the dog we got from them does resolutely come to cuddle the crying – and that is a good thing.

Anyway.  The three women were doing good for dog adoption and simultaneously being so hateful.  Angry at backyard breeders, angry at people who don’t know that the best language is “are those dogs for adoption” instead of “are those dogs for sale”.  Just hurt and angry and broken hearted because they love dogs and other people don’t behave the way these women know they should.

I wanted to tell facebook all about it.  I wanted to be correct and unchallenged in my opinion without triggering any change or expressing my opinion in front of someone else who might have a counter-factual.

Just like I’m sure that people know where to pee.

Just like I’m sure that Brexit is strange, and seems to have gone the wrong way.

Just like … and just like … and just like …

What was different this time is that the humans who were endangering the likelihood of finding loving homes for the three pitties they had with them (one of them white, with a brown spot over one eye and ears that did the thing that makes them 100x cuter) because anybody would have to interrupt the deluge of hatefulness to ask about the dogs were 300 yards away from me.

I will admit, I was still a little … like I get … after an exceptionally well done Vlogbrothers video.  This one to be exact.  Go ahead – I’ll wait.

Hank Green Reminds Me (lovingly) that I have agency

So yeah.  And there next to the pasta sauce I start trying out ways to say the things in my heart to the women who are doing good works for adoptable dogs.

Then the real revelation happens.

I need to do this all the time.

My local bookstore is doing a drive for LGBTQI kids, they are going to send the books to Orlando – I asked for recommendations (they had some) and then  (with their help) realized the book I just finished was a good one.  I did something.

I also have a card I intend for (but haven’t yet sent) the hospital which took many / most of the Orlando victims because the professionals who went head to head with the wrath of that man need recognition.

What if – before I let myself post / repost / like / share / ❤  or whatever else … what if I DID something first.  A real thing.

 

I think I’m going to try it.

 

You never know what will stick, not really.  My mom said something to me in the middle of the night when I was in high school, I felt dramatic and wrought over a boy I adored and was ready to go all “Say Anything” over the whole thing.  She said, “It isn’t whether they say yes or no, but the asking that changes the relationship.”  I waited – then I didn’t wait anymore.

I was in college in a multi-day rage over every slight ever committed by anyone I’d ever known.  Hissing and spitting and cursing all the evils.  My mom said, “If they entire world is being an asshole – it might be you.”  This one has morphed over the years and now as a little cousin named “If they were smart and thoughtful yesterday they still are today – you just can’t hear it yet”.

There are more, there always are, and we each have our own.  I see my friends with the phrases that have gone with them through their lives, seeing the new ones get incorporated.  How we view our power, as told to us by those we keep closest.  The glee, or horror, to realize a moment’s comment has become a phrase for someone we love.

I know I can’t control what snippets of my voice my kiddo will take forward.  When he stands in the mirror evaluating his worthiness for the job, or the person, or the moment.  When he goes to bed at night after a terrible mistake, and who he’ll choose to be in the morning when he gets on his feet.

I don’t know what I would say if I WAS going to script those moments.

Although I often saw my dad enraged at power tools and lumber, I only remember him being angry with me once.  It doesn’t matter what he said (I honestly don’t remember the words) but I can see all of it.  Alternatively, I can’t remember an exact situation where he said, “atta girl” but that is what I hear when I need it.

I’m melancholy today a little, dad’s birthday is coming, and Memorial Day, and Father’s Day.  I’m thinking about the voices that linger and the messages they send.  I hope, I think, in the end, that kiddo knows that trying is worth it.