If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever. Winnie the Pooh

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Geriatric Runner...and proud of it!

When I started training for the San Francisco Marathon a little over 13 weeks ago, I hadn't put much thought into what it would take to get from point A (not being able to run a marathon) to point B (being able to pound the pavement for 26.2 miles). It had been a goal bouncing around in my head for the last year, and so one day I told myself, let's do it(you know, as Ton Loc would say). Once those words were spoken, with no hesitation, I looked for the soonest marathon online, found it to be in San Francisco, (because God knows only an idiot would train for a marathon in the middle of the summer in Texas) paid the registration fee and told Chris, I need a plane ticket to California in July. I mean, I enjoy running and realize it is also a challenge but I had no idea what I just signed myself up for.

It didn't dawn on me that I would be training in ungodly weather: 85-100 degrees with 85% humidity. I didn't realize that once I hit anything above 12 miles in the summer, I'd need to leave my house by 5:30am, preferably 5, every.single.Saturday. I didn't realize I'd have to train while on vacation, take my first ice bath to ease some seriously aching feet, dress like a grandma and have a new bedtime of 9pm (what?!). I didn't know that I would one day be running with pepper spray clutched in my hand and that my greatest danger would be moms in minvans! I was surprised to learn that training would give me my very first sympathy foot rub from the hubby. Even having a csection for the twins, which caused my feet to swell like I had elephantitis, wasn't enough to make him touch my feet (aversion much?!). But run 20 miles and even Mr. Tough Guy will have a breaking point of sympathy (a once in a lifetime event, I'm sure) for his dear ol' wifey. I had no idea that most people train with a group. For some reason, running for hours on a Saturday morning isn't appealing to anyone but me. So, I did it. Alone. Or so I thought.

And while doing this, some interesting things happened along the way...some firsts, some downs, some highs, some moments with God...Here they are:

~Britney Spears and Katy Perry have made my playlist. Don't judge. I used to 'tsk tsk' at people who listened to pop blah (still no Lady GaGa on my list!). But you listen up, Til the World Ends and Firework make me a happy runner. And dammit, I'll listen to it if it's going to get me through another hour of running!

~Because of following the marathon guide, I got hit by some serious depression. It tackled me strong and hard. Around week 8. I realized I had only made it to the half way point of the training guide and I was dog tired. It was a combination of waking up 4 times a week to run at 5:00 am while adding more miles each and every week, strength and cross training at the gym 3 days a week, add life (oh, like taking care of 3 kids) and I was feeling it. It was becoming too much. Right around that time, Austin's lovely humidity made an appearance and what I used to love (running!), I was quickly beginning to loathe.

~Because of running, I sprinted right out of Depression's dark and heavy arms. I had an 18 miler up that morning. When I took off for my run that morning, everything fell into place. I hit my 6 mile mark and knew, I had this run. I owned it. I was going to finish and finish strong. There are moments when I'm running and so overwhelmed by the emotions of knowing my body is stronger than I ever imagined it could be, that I tear up. I bet I look like quite the fool on those runs where some tears sneak out. Crying because I'm able to run? Seriously!? Yes, seriously. I can't thank God enough for giving me the ability to do something that is 100% good for my mind and body.

~Every once in a while I'm lucky to get an IRL (in real life) running friend to join me...but more often than not, I'm on my own. Sorta. I joined a running group online, and the support of these women has been my lifeboat. Thanks, Running Mamas. I honestly don't know if I would have stuck it out, without your advice and support.

~I'm a klutz. Running is probably a dangerous sport for me because of my lack of athletic prowess. Who trips on every single run? Me. Who has tripped while at a standstill at a redlight? This girl! Twice.

~And while I'm confessing my dorkiness, let's add the fact that I now run while 1. Wearing a hydration belt (something I swore I'd never do) 2. Eating (hey, you burn 2,000 calories while running and need food!) 3. Rocking the compression socks, see?: (I have to fight the urge to shake my finger and yell, 'Hey kids, get off my lawn' while wearing these bad boys)

4. Wearing sunscreen. Because the difference between me and those 20 something hot runners is that well, I'm not in my 20s. I'm 32 and I've moved past trying to look cute while running (Ok, ok, I did get a pair of pink compression socks, but that's simply because even the white ones are a bit too geriatric for my big race ;)). One morning a 'hot' runner ran past me, looking more like Baywatch with her dark tan, white- bow-chicka-bow-wow tank, makeup carefully applied and smelling like a perfume counter. I on the other hand was more Golden Girls: hydration belt, drenched in sweat and smelling like sunscreen and running stank. And darn proud of it!

It's been quite a journey. It's almost marathon day, and I have to say, even if something stops me from getting to the race, I'll be forever grateful that I decided to give it my best shot. The biggest lesson I learned is that I am most definitely not alone. From the support of family and friends and most of all to the One who is with me on every single run. I'm feeling strong as I bring it in to the homestretch. Bring it, San Fran. This geriatric, klutzy runner is ready for the challenge.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oh the places you will go...

Claire turned 5. Five. FIVE. It's difficult for me to say, to write, to grasp. I still remember the first time I saw her on the ultrasound. Two little legs sticking straight up and sprawled out on her back. Just getting comfy as she likes to say now. I remember feeling her kicks inside my tummy and how on July 4th 2006, I felt myself going into labor and I knew things would never be the same. At the time, I didn't know how my life would change, but my little Firecracker, who burst into our life on July 5th 2006 at 8:00 in the evening, flipped my world upside down and has led the way ever since. I remember as a newborn she would cry endlessly each night and I would sway and dance with her to calm her down. Finally, we'd end up in her room in the rocking chair, and she would fall asleep while I sang her song: I love my Claire Rose, I love you more than you'll ever know.... A song I still sing to her every single night. I remember feeding her cereal for the very first time. How she scrunched up her mouth and stuck her tongue out in protest. I remember her first birthday, dressed in a delicate pink cupcake dress while tasting cake for the first time. I remember her first steps. The look of awe in her eyes as she realized, I can do it! I remember the first time she rode her tricycle. Her dark pig tails waving in the breeze. I remember these things and so much more.
Treasures tucked into my heart.

Claire has a light in her eyes. She's full of fiery spirit. Claire is stubborn and kind. Innocent and sweet. Intense and calm.

Claire has big plans for her life. She wants to be a doctor. She doesn't want to get married or have children. First things first, she starts kindergarten this year. My baby girl. I know these school years are going to fly by and I have to fight the urge to yell at the top of my lungs...SLOW DOWN! This time is going by way too fast!!

Dear Claire, happy birthday, Baby. Enjoy 5 because then comes 6, 7, 8...I am sure Dr. Seuss was thinking of you when he wrote this...or at least, I think of you when I read it:

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
by Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets.
Look’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry.
Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose?
How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!