Posted by: grasshopperme | November 18, 2014

“He is just my dog…”

except he isn’t, really…just a dog, that is. Six months ago this big, goofy, handsome, smart, mischievous, loyal and vocal bundle of fur and insecurities bearing the name of a Norse god flopped onto the dog bed of my life and called it home for good. At the time the only thing in my mind was an impulsive desire to not see a dog I cared about surrendered to  a shelter or re-homed (again), possibly to strangers. I had no idea how much my life would change or how clearly I would come to understand that you often don’t know what you were missing until you get it  until it “woo-woos” its way into your heart.

I was missing having someone actually HAPPY to see me come home, from anywhere, no matter how long (or short) a time I’d been gone. I was missing a reason to look forward to COMING home and feeling happy, even content, to be there.  I was missing conversations with strangers in parks (or on restaurant patios, the street during night walks, in line at stores, or through open windows at stop lights) spending Saturdays at dog expos or meet-ups with other sled-breed owners, turning  a one-time internet acquaintance into a long distance friend and “Mala-mentor” (thanks, Almine!), and researching doggie daycare more intensely than I did my choice of university.

Six months ago, who knew I could single-handedly pack up everything I had and move myself to a new place TWICE in one summer looking for a dogs-welcome-no-size-restrictions abode, or happily replace my monthly gym fee with a kibble tab at my local Costco, and structure my race calendar around only events that also welcome four-legged participants? Certainly not me, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

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He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.) When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags. Without him, I am only human. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me…whenever..wherever…in case I need him. And I expect I will – as I always have. He is just my dog.” – Gene Hill

Posted by: grasshopperme | May 8, 2014

An Open Apology & A Re-Birthday Promise

Dear Self,

It’s about time I tell you something I never have. I love you. I know you struggle sometimes. Ok, maybe more than sometimes. But that’s ok, because I am here for you and we can handle it. I am here for you while you cry. I am here for you when you are angry, or sad or hurt or lonely or frustrated. I am here for you when you are happy, silly,  joyful and open hearted. I am here for you always. I will never leave you. It’s ok to let it out; all of it. I am here for you.

I will never let you lose yourself again, ok? I promise you. And I will never ever let you be treated poorly or without the utmost of care and respect. You deserve to always be treated as someone who is loved and respected. I will always act in ways that prove this. I will never allow you to chase anyone, or try and change yourself or anything about yourself for a man, a friend, a job or anyone. You are enough just the way you are.

I’m so sorry for the way I’ve treated you in the past. I just didn’t know your value and worth. I’m so sorry. But now I do. I see you. I see your unique beauty, strength, courage, loyalty, grace, intelligence, sassiness, tenderness and love. I am sorry for all the horrible things I have said to you, all of the things I told you that you needed to change, all of the times I’ve told you to be “better” or “different” or “normal” or “perfect” or more. You are enough.

I’m sorry for all of the times I have compared you to others. I’m sorry for all of the times I said “you can’t do that” or “you aren’t worth it” or “someone else could do that better than you”. I am sorry for all of the times I criticized you and, by extension, who you are. You are enough, and that is enough.

I’m sorry for all of the times I kept you quiet and from expressing your thoughts or emotions for fear of others’ response. I’m sorry for holding you back so many times. I’m sorry for telling you that you are unworthy and not good enough. Not good enough for a relationship or a job or your dreams or love in any form from anyone. You are enough.

I will never let you second guess yourself or play small or think that you are “missing” something that everyone else has. I will never again let another person’s opinion define you or influence you. I will never let you be backseat to another. I will not dim your light or quiet your voice. I will never, ever, ever make you wait for someone to miss you or try and get someone to see you. I promise. You are not invisible and you should not be made to feel that you are. You deserve more. And I’m going to give that to you. I’m going to work harder to surround you with only those people that see you, hear you, and treat you as enough  – at all times.

Thank you for being strong and stubborn. Your willingness to continue to love and trust after being discarded and forgotten is something to be admired. You have worked hard to grow into someone who can acknowledge her own worth. You haven’t done anything wrong and you don’t need to change anything.  You are worthy just as you are, and that is more than enough.

I love you.

Your Self

Posted by: grasshopperme | December 1, 2013

The Journey

Some inspiration, via the pen of Mary Oliver, found in an unexpected moment at just the right time:

One day you finally knew what you had to do,
and began,
though the voices around you kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy was terrible.
It was already late enough,
and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

rather

Posted by: grasshopperme | April 6, 2013

Bouillon de Culture

I’m going to depart from my usual topics tonight. No recounts of races. No griping about running. Because 1. I’ve done none of either recently, and 2. It’s my blog and I don’t want to.

Thanks to my local cable provider’s free “watch-a-thon” event this past weekend, I had ample time to indulge in all the guilty trash episodic television I often bypass in favor of gym visits and early bedtimes during training periods. Thanks to this last minute programming discovery, I was not only able to erase my frustration that, (at least in my local market) The Office and Glee share a time slot, and I must choose which one to watch, but I also (finally) managed to watch EVERY minute of Downton Abbey from the beginning. Not a monumental accomplishment, by most standards, I will admit. But to this long addicted lover of all things serial and soapy, dating back to grade school days when Luke and Laura were “dating”, it was glorious!

During a respite from the saga of British aristocracy in the Great War, I also caught a personal fave of mine, Tina Fey, appearing on Inside the Actor’s Studio. While she was witty and quick as ever, I remembered what I enjoy most about that show is the last few minutes before the host turns the guest over to the students for the Q&A period. James Lipton (in a blatant & credited rip off of Bernard Pivot) asks every guest the same 10 questions and every time I watch it, I think about what my answers would be.

I will never be sitting at Pace University addressing the Studio, but I do have this “stage” and no producer to stop me. Here goes….feel free to play along if you know it:

1. What is your favorite word? Persevere It is a strong word that implies a sustained power of effort. Not just try, as in “I will try” or “I tried” which are more indicative of a single attempt…but rather a word that reflects enough ongoing fortitude to pick your ass back up and move on.

2. What is your least favorite word? Inappropriate In too many instances in my life this word has been used by others to pass judgment in an oh-s0-civil yet condescending way designed to change something in me of which they disapproved when their opinion wasn’t solicited: “Are you sure your friendship with him isn’t kind of inappropriate?”

3. What turns you on? Success in any form, when achieved honestly.

4. What turns you off? Cruelty in any form, for any reason.

5. What is your favorite curse word? Crap I know, not scandalous, but so versatile. Noun, verb, adjective, exclamation, even a gerund if you’re being creative🙂

6. What sound or noise to do love? A deep, rich country voice Jason Michael Carroll, Chris Young….if I’m not ringing any bells with you then for the love of God get on You Tube and see what you’re missin’

7. What sound or noise do you hate? Screeching brakes Nothing good ever comes after that…

8. What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt? Sport/Fitness Psychologist particularly among women as it relates to choosing (and staying) on a path of fitness and health, and issues of body and self-image related to achieving and sustaining major weight loss.

9. What profession would you not want to attempt? Anything that involves an assembly line or wearing high heels.

10. If Heaven exists, what do want to hear God say as you enter the Pearly Gates? You’re in the right place. Grandpa has the game on, Grandma has spaghetti on the stove, and all my dogs are ready to hit the trails.

Posted by: grasshopperme | March 21, 2013

And He Didn’t Even Have to Double Dog Dare…

Tonight I was presented with a dare….a challenge….maybe I should say expectation….to write a facebook post about my training session tonight and the “tortures” experienced within. In the sweat-filled delirium of the moment I joked with my trainer that the real challenge would be to write a post about him and NOT be banned by facebook for violating their quota for profanity used by a single author in one instance. In hindsight, however, the challenge is really to put everything I’ve been coming to realize is true for me into something coherent when I’m not sure it completely makes sense to me.

I HATE RUNNING. I started it four years ago as a way to diversify my cardio routine and refocus on a new challenge and jumpstart my weight loss. I have logged countless miles on treadmills, trails, and tracks. I have a closet full of running gear for all seasons and distances from 5K to half-marathon. I have collected bibs and medals from literally dozens of events, costing a staggering amount in registration fees, and sometimes even travel expenses. None of these truisms negate the fact that, as I have been reflecting the last month, through illness and a series of life-events which have shifted my focus off running and onto other areas of life, and with the anniversary of my first half marathon coming this past weekend, the reality is I HATE RUNNING.

In all those events, I have never stood at a starting corral and felt glad to be there, excited for the run ahead, confident about my performance and eager to get on the way. I have never crossed a finish line (at any distance) and felt exhiliration or pride in my accomplishment. The steps in between are usually spent beating myself with self-doubt and feeling slow and fat. Not exactly the “runners’ high” of which I have heard so much and been promised “will come in time” by so many. Time? Really? I’ve given it four years. I think one of us missed the exit ramp.

In thinking on the drive home tonight about what I should post about my gym workout, I started thinking about so many of the workout sessions I have had recently. I more often then not leave exhausted, already sore (with the promise of worse to come in the morning), ravenous, drenched, and…absolutely amazing! The feeling I get when I can add another set of big plates to a quad press, or modify burpees to use my beloved bosu ball, or hit a new high time holding a plank, or reach the 2ft vertical box jump stand on the first try (admittedly after staring at it and pacing around it for several minutes) fill me with more pride and more of a sense of real accomplishment than crossing any finish line ever has. It is not something I can explain, or ever expect my friends who love the run (and they are many) to understand, but it is my truth, my high.

No crowd, no timing chips, no cheering, no medals, (definitely) no pretty pictures…and no matter.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and I can’t wait to do it again.

Posted by: grasshopperme | February 10, 2013

Ruined by RunDisney??

Half marathon #2, and the requisite recovery time, is now behind me. As I look forward in the coming weeks to stepping back into full training mode for some big upcoming events, I thought it was about to time to recap what was a completely different experience for me for a myriad of reasons. I’m relieved I didn’t START my race experiences with this event, because I’m not sure I’d be able to do anything else and not feel disappointed. Say what you will about the size, cost, distance, frequency (and I don’t think between blogs, social media, print and word of mouth there is anything left UNsaid) of RunDisney events, these people have this race thing down!

Fellow Tough Chik Amy and I had seen the postings about the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland in January 2012, about two weeks before the inaugural running and around the exact time we were registering to run our local Shamrock’n Half Marathon. After looking at the website, reading some of the recaps, and (not surprisingly) laying our eyes on the finishers’ medals it was not long before we mutually decided that this race was going on the 2013 race plan.

We registered the day the website went live last June. Fortunately we were in before the inevitable (and VERY fast) sell-out, because at that point (thanks to Amy’s tenacity and expert ability to obtain deals for all things travel-related) our hotel and air arrangements were already booked. Not that either of us would’ve been above using the long MLK weekend to enjoy Disneyland and CA Adventure, but being in the midst of all that race excitement and not participating would’ve been hard to take–even for someone who still (yes, still) doesn’t really care for running.

We arrived on Thursday to find typically picture-perfect SoCal weather and an even more favorable forecast for the Sunday event. Our hotel was walking distance from the parks (where we spent all day Friday and Monday, and all of our post-race Sunday–medals on!!), the pre-race Expo, and the start/finish line housed on resort properties. Luckier for me, it was also only about 1/3 of a mile from the Anaheim Garden Walk. This meant getting in my final planned jog and the required time on a foam roller was only as far as the local 24 Hr Fitness, and my 6:15am smartphone alarm–sorry, Amy😦.

From the second we arrived at the Expo on Saturday it was nothing but pleasant surprises. Package pickup for this race of approximately 13,000 people was flawless. From bib personalization, timing chip check, t-shirt pick-up, everything was exactly as it was supposed to be according to our registration. As someone who has, at last count, upwards of 50 races, from 5K-13.1 miles and walkathon-triathalons behind her, I cannot overstate how WELCOME and UNIQUE this was. From the young volunteers handing out goody bags, to the resort staff fielding questions and giving direction, to all the vendors at the expo, it was a pleasure. We had planned to not attend either theme park on this day to “save our legs” from over-walking, so once we had scoured the expo for last-minute impulse buys and race souvenirs we headed out to feast at Marri’s on Katella Blvd. For anyone visiting the area, this place is a hidden gem–good value, delicious homemade meatballs, awesome rustic sauces and a variety of pasta choices.

Once carb loading was complete, we walked back to our hotel to get our gear, including costumes (Tink for me, Princess Ariel the Mermaid for Amy) staged for Sunday and ready for an early bedtime.

I don’t care how early you go to bed, 2:30am comes WAAAYYYY too soon. Having decided we would use our walk to the race area as our warm up, and needing to have our gearbags to the sweatcheck area by 4:15, it was necessary to make sure we made the 5am gun, but I couldn’t help but think there was a time in my life this Pixie would’ve been coming TO bed at this time, not leaving it. After checking our bags (again, surprisingly smooth for an event of this size) and making the required potty stops, Amy and I headed to our separate corrals to wait for the start. Not having submitted a verifiable qualifying pace, I was placed in corral E, while Amy would start well ahead of me in B.

One thing starting back-of-the-pack gave me this time I didn’t have in my last half go-’round was a chance to really reflect on how different this experience was. Not only was the race bigger, far from home where I wouldn’t have a race course or support people I knew, but it occurred to me how much more READY I was this time. As anyone who read the posts leading up to my first half knows, the training program I had then seemed to be jinxed😛. I went from illness to injury to illness again until I finally stood in that starting corral truly uncertain if I could complete the distance, let alone make the 4 hr cut-off time. This time I felt prepared, healthy, dare I say confident, and ultimately terrified! I had no doubt now I could do the distance, I already had–but what if I got hurt in the race? what if something happened I hadn’t planned on–fueling error, breathing trouble? what if I actually finished SLOWER than I had almost a year before? Fortunately for me the hype of the start quickly distracted me before I could do any long-term psychic damage.

The first 2/3 of the race took place exclusively on Disney property. You wound around the resort on city streets, back into CA Adventure, behind the scenes, around the interior, through a chute  that separates the entries to the two parks (dubbed the cheer squad zone for friends and family who have come to support and spectate) into Disneyland and around the various “lands” all lit for maximum magical effect. All park restrooms are open and accessible for runners’ convenience-no port-a-pots within the magic kingdom! At various points the costumed Disney characters, as well as employees of various operational departments are along the course providing encouragement, taking pictures, and providing safety warnings: “the course narrows ahead, sharp corner to your right, watch the curbs as you exit the lot, etc.” Another welcome first.

Even off property (from about the 6 mile point until re-entry around mile 11.5) around the streets of Anaheim this race was exceptional. Hydration and aid stations are prevalent and well-spaced, amply stocked, and run smoothly by enthusiastic volunteers. I particularly liked how the tables were set up on BOTH sides of the closed course, allowing access whether you were running on the right or left side of the “lane” and wide enough to proved a central corridor to keep moving through those who did not wish/need to stop. I’m sure whoever came up with this one has run a race or two…GENIUS!

The last 2 1/2 miles or so winds back though Disney resort property…mostly behind the parks and through parking lots. For a perpetual back-of-the-packer like me, the level of enthusiasm and support still present in the race personnel was great. The bands were still playing, balloons still inflated, announcers still trying to catch everyone’s name and announce it as they crossed the mat. There was no sense at all of anyone getting ready to check out or pack up and head home, even at 3+ hours after the start of corral E.

Three hours, twelve minutes, and twenty-two seconds after, but who’s counting?

OK, I admit it. ME!! I was counting. After all the pre-race pondering, this Pixie finished 10+ minutes ahead of her last half marathon time. Maybe it was the pre-race pampering that did it? These princesses may be onto something…

Posted by: grasshopperme | January 1, 2013

Relax, Reflect, Resolve…

December 31st.

New Year’s Eve.

Take some time to 1. Relax 2. Reflect and 3. Resolve. Right? Isn’t that what grown-ups do?

As I sit tonight, feet up on the sofa, in my most ratty comfy sweats, I can safely mark #1 with a big fat CHECK! Wow, that was so much easier than I thought. I love lists. I love checking things off lists. VERY grown-up.

On to item #2. Hmmmm. I think in reflecting on 2012, the word that sums it up best for me is CHALLENGING. Sometimes to the body, sometimes to the mind, and sometimes (it seemed to me) just to satisfy some unseen force’s twisted sense of humor. I began 2012 with three specific ideas in mind…starting this blog among them. After years of working out and getting healthy being a very private and personal experience for me, I was persuaded to try and share some of the experiences with others who may be doing, or wanting to do, the same. I told myself, “If I change my mind I can always delete it”. How many risks can you say that about? I didn’t know who if anyone would ever actually read it. Most of the time, judging by the lack of feedback, not many people do. After a while, I realized it didn’t matter. Like the journals I had kept most of my life I’d write when I wanted needed to, and hold off when I didn’t. It doesn’t have to help anyone but me, and it isn’t hurting anyone either.

Second idea for 2012 was to complete a half marathon. After several years of 5Ks and 10Ks I felt ready to step it up. As those of you who DO read this blog know (and those who don’t can search back a few posts and find out) I completed the Shamrock’n Half Marathon in March, 2012. Unlike so many of my “real” runner friends predicted, I did NOT emerge from the endeavor with a new found love of distance running. I did not immediately sign up for running clubs. I did not forego my gym membership for training groups. I still have no desire to use this experience as a stepping stone to a full marathon. I DID come away with a great deal of personal satisfaction for having set a goal and, despite what seemed at the time to be herculean obstacles, (the decision to end my marriage among them) achieved it. I was stronger than I knew, in more ways than I could’ve imagined. I’m now comfortable in promising myself this will be my FIRST half marathon.

Final (physical) challenge I set for 2012 was to ride my first Metric Century. I chose the Princess Promenade Challenge in Sacramento/Folsom. It was the first organized bike event I ever did (back in 2011 I had done their 15 mile event) and loved that the course passes, quite literally, through my backyard. While the latter made training more convenient, it was certainly not easy. It was a lot of time alone in the saddle, especially on the weekends. All this while settling in to a new place, and a new life of living alone for the first time in 20 years. It strained my resolve, my patience, my confidence, and many of my relationships, but it revealed them as well. Training overlapped a busy summer of scheduled races, and meant declining prioritizing other events not already on the calendar. I found myself struggling to communicate my fears frustrations to new friends, while coming to terms with the abandonment absence of some old ones, and relishing in the renewed personal connection to one particular old friend who I have come to know is still just as much family to me as any blood connection could provide. I am blessed to have the people I have in my life at this moment, and I will no longer assume they know that just because I do.

I guess that leads me to #3….Resolution time. Like last year, I have some physical goals. I have two more half-marathons on my schedule as of now: Tinker Bell Half at Disneyland in January, and the San Francisco Marathon 1st Half in June. I also have the Tour de Cure Century (not a metric one, the full 100 miler) for the American Diabetes Association in May…..updates to follow.

Which I guess serves as a spoiler for the other resolution: to continue this blog. Maybe somebody will read it and be made to smile, to think, to find inspiration. Maybe not. But in writing, I find I can make a lot of those things happen for me. And I’m somebody, too. How’s that for being a grown-up?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Posted by: grasshopperme | May 8, 2012

For As Long As We Have Voices

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
―Elizabeth Gilbert

Tomorrow is an anniversary for me. A “re-birthday” as I have come to call it. May 8, 2006 I entered a hospital in South San Francisco to undergo a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (the background story is here on this blog for anyone who cares to read it). But in the six years since that date, I have come to see this day as one I set aside to reflect and appreciate the people and circumstances that have helped propel this journey, and a reminder to never be lax in expressing the gratitude for the support and guidance I have been shown along the way.

The twelve months since my last re-birthday have been full in many ways. Full of adventures, full of challenges, the strengthening of new friendships, and the reassessment of longtime ones, new goals to achieve, old demons to battle, and (in the last 30 days) the start of a whole new life-chapter brought about by the end of my marriage. This is not somewhere I would’ve predicted I would be this time last year, but at the same time I know in my mind (and am starting to feel with my heart) there is no other place I should be.

To my family (Mom 1, Mom 2, Jon, Cathy and the kidlets) I want to extend my thanks for being my under acknowledged life preservers. Much as I try to not have to reach out and depend on you, it brings me comfort to know that, if I had to crash-land as I fly by the seat of my pants, you are right underneath me at all times—and double as flotation devices. Love you!

To my extended family and friends, particularly those I am lucky enough to see daily at work, your interest and encouragement (and in at least a couple of instances INVOLVEMENT) in the fitness endeavors I have taken on this year is more appreciated than you can know. I have not begun to get comfortable with your compliments and praises, but know that I do take them to heart and use them to motivate me when I try new things. I hope the children we are surrounded by everyday can use my activities as positive examples in their lives the way your interactions with them in the classroom and on the playground already impact them every minute of the day. You are heroes!

This year I want to send a special “shout out” to the community of Team Tough Chik for living true to the credo that “whether you podium or persevere, all that matters is that you are out there doing what YOU love to do.” Being involved in a group of active women who are so genuinely supportive of each other is amazing and I feel honored to be among you. For fellow Tough Chik teammate and now dear friend Amy: THANK YOU for making the things I knew I loved to do (and even the stuff I don’t love so much) much more fun just by your presence and attitude. Who knew being tough could be so funny??

Last, because he could never be least, another year’s worth of debt to Master Trainer Will. I always send him a personal note on this day to express how much his continued support and guidance means to me in my life, but I also want to state very publicly it is your unfailing friendship that is the greatest gift to me over these many years and the one for which I will “just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely…”

for as long as I have a voice.

Posted by: grasshopperme | March 15, 2012

Put On the Big Girl Panties, Hun. Time to Come Out Swinging

Shamrock’n Half Marathon day arrived, on schedule (actually one hour sooner-thank you daylight savings time) and didn’t really matter whether I was ready or not.

I wasn’t.

Not physically (see my earlier posts for all the gory details) and definitely not mentally. I wasn’t healthy enough. I wasn’t fast enough to make the 4hr cut off. I hadn’t trained hard enough. I hadn’t run long enough…..

None of it mattered last Sunday. Race day was here. Time to live by the words you wear around that neck of yours, Grasshopper. SUCK. IT. UP.

Amy and I arrived at one of the suggested parking areas early enough to walk leisurely to the ballpark where the race was to begin. After a couple of wrong turns inside the concourse, we finally located the start line, sweat check and, most importantly, the potties. All missions accomplished, it was time to line up. The rain that had fallen overnight subsided early that morning and by gun time we were looking at clouds, but no rain and (thankfully) only a very slight breeze.

Amy, being faster, started in the wave ahead of me with a couple of other people we knew. Fifteen minutes later it was my turn and off I went. The starts of races are typically my most stressful time. The shoulder to shoulder jostling for positions make me claustrophobic and my lack of grace and coordination always have me concerned about tripping—or causing someone else to trip. Staying with my usual pattern I walked the first 5-10 minutes at a brisk pace, not only to loosen up, but also to let the crowds spread out.

Within the first couple miles it became clear none of the plans I had mulled were going to pan out. My hydration and fuel plan was in place, but I didn’t have enough lung capacity back to run the longer intervals at a brisk pace. I was going to have to be okay with it if I was going to make the longer distance. Trusted trainer Will’s voice was bouncing around my head “Slow down. Save that strength to speed up later. If you bonk at 3 miles, you won’t make 13.” Right, as always.  :-P

By the middle miles I had slowed to over 15 min/mile, but was jogging more than not. Things went well until about mile 7½. The hamstring I had strained started feeling twitchy and most of the next mile or so was an experiment to find a stride that would alleviate the pain. This seemed only to spread the pain throughout the rest of the right leg. By mile 9 my knee and hip joint were throbbing.

An extended walk break through Old Sacramento ended with an uphill climb toward the scenic river walk. At this point I saw Will’s girlfriend, Laura, who had volunteered to be race support for Amy and meet her at mile 9 with Gatorade and Gu. She had run a few miles with Amy and made the turn around back towards town to meet her back at the finish line. She kindly offered the fuel and G2 she had left, but since I had just came from an aid station I was in good shape. It was nice to get an update on where Amy was along the course (I could tell she was on pace to beat 3hrs as she hoped) and reassuring to hear someone say I was looking better than I felt!

Before long I saw my “holy grail” a.k.a. the mile 10 marker. I allowed myself to look at my watch for the first time since leaving the city streets for the bike trail shortly after mile 4. This was already the farthest I had ever run. I had the equivalent of a 5K to go, and the news looked good. If I wasn’t able to run another step, I could walk and still beat the 4 hour cut off. If I could manage to continue to jog/walk at the pace I’d kept during the middle 4 miles, I may actually come in under 3½ hours.

At mile 12 I took out my phone to send Amy a short text: 12. She’d know about how long she had to meet me at the finish line for a picture. It was then I saw that Will had sent a text to me about a mile earlier that read “Home stretch. You can do it!!” so I cc’d him on the text to Amy as well. Within minutes came another from him “Come on strong! You’re gonna finish a half marathon and you’re killing it!!”

One of the reasons I chose this race as my first half was the chance to finish on the infield of Raley Field where the Sacramento Rivercats play baseball. The 13 mile marker was the driveway behind the left field fence and a short S turn leads you into outfield of the ballpark where you then follow the warning track around the field to the finish line shortly past third base.

Within the first 50 yards inside the park, I could hear Laura and Amy and Will and knew they were close. I spotted them (mostly thanks to Amy’s love of bright pink) standing right behind the dugout and knew in a few strides I’d get to start celebrating too.

Medal in hand I was directed to the exit behind home plate and pointed toward the stairs to the upper concourse. After a short pause (and a WTF look to make sure the nice girl wasn’t joking) it became clear that, finisher or not, I was going to have to climb STAIRS to meet up with my friends, my food, my goodie bag, my free beer tickets, ummm pretty much my LIFE.

By the time I got to the top of the stairs, Will was coming at me grinning like a lottery winner and I could not fall into that hug fast enough. It was done. I had finished my first half marathon. Two of my closest friends were there sharing it with me. I was under the cut off by even more than I dared to hope less than a month before (chip time 3:22:31). Somehow, I was still vertical.

Well, mostly vertical, if you ignore the momentary collapse onto Will’s shoulder as I sucked up the last of my inner big girl and whispered through the start of tears something heartfelt and profound like “Oh my God, I hurt so f’ing bad.”

Posted by: grasshopperme | February 28, 2012

And that about sums it up…

“It was one of those times you feel a sense of loss, even though you didn’t have something in the first place. I guess that’s what disappointment is- a sense of loss for something you never had.”    ―      Deb Caletti

And that about sums it up. I have been struggling with preparing for my first half marathon for the better part of  February. Early in the month, I strained a hamstring during a weight workout that cost me two and a half weeks of training time running. Only this past Thursday, I received the all clear to begin testing the leg again. A short run around a local  park after work followed by 6 miles this weekend began to boost  my confidence that the injury would not be a deal breaker. Then the chest cold arrived😦. Even slowing my pace I can feel the weakness in my lungs come on quickly and the slightest irregularity in breathing brings on fits of coughing followed by LONG walk breaks.

Those of you who know me, or even those who only have read my posts, know I am not a natural runner. I am not fast, I don’t have superior endurance skills, I don’t even particularly enjoy it. I have never experienced that transcendent “runners high” that so many of my friends have described. But I recognize its beneficial place in my fitness routine, and I have come to enjoy the various events I enter both for the social camaraderie and as a chance to rise to new challenges.

Prior to this, my longest event has been  a 10K. This is the most prep/training time I have ever allowed myself for an event, and I had seen a lot of early progress and started to allow myself to get excited about seeing (for me) a better pace than some of my more impulsive entries. While I am under no illusions I will ever end up on a podium, the thought of not actually being able to finish an event had not occurred to me. …until now.

Intellectually, I can see that this is not a tragedy. Well-meaning friends keep encouraging me to see the fact that I am exercising at all as the accomplishment. “You couldn’t have considered running half a mile 200 lbs ago, let alone a half marathon.” Well, that is true. And maybe it should be enough to look at what I have done already, vs what my 400lb self would have attempted, and see that as the achievement. But the competitive, obsessive, perfectionist Capricorn that dwells in the recesses of this former athlete’s brain sees that as an easy “out” and can’t help but be slightly disgusted by the suggestion.

There will be other races, maybe even other half marathons, but right now I find myself consumed by the fact that, no matter what, I’m always going to remember how disappointed I was by my first…in my experience, in my preparation, in my expectations, and in myself. And that about sums it up.

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