Friday, October 10, 2014

My Dad and Brett Favre

Happy Birthday Dad! Each time I mentioned his birthday to him this week, he reminded me that it's Brett Favre's birthday too. Dad and Brett Favre, on the same playing field for one day a year. Just a few years apart ;)

He also remembers that he'll be 74 years old, which I think is pretty good, because it means he knows what year it is. (He and I were both born on -0 years, 1940 and 1980, so we only need the most basic of math in order to figure out how old we are any given year).

I struggle with birthday gifts for him. I don't think he needs much to be content. He enjoys music. 70's and 60's tunes and jazz. A new album (or an old one!) would light him up. We also like to spoil him with good food when we can. Since I don't cook that looks like fresh fruit from the market on Layton or Qdoba or Leon's ice cream. His taste is a sense he can still enjoy, but his diabetes doesn't want us to bring him sweets all the time. He loves Diet Coke. I think I could probably bring him a case of that stuff and make him a very happy man. I'm the same way, Dad. I get it.

It's hard for him to get around, and harder for kids to get him around. In the past, tickets to a show or an Admirals game would be a cool gift. These days, unfortunately it's kind of an ordeal for one person to make that happen. On top of that, Dad's vision isn't the best these days.

However! His cataract surgery is scheduled for November 4th! The nurses who helped schedule it say it's a simple surgery and could really improve his vision, since he's got the cataract in his one good eye. It's got to be so hard for him to eat, navigate, visit with people... everything... with no vision. Right now we can't show him pics of his adorable nephew Isaiah... come to think of it, he really hasn't SEEN Isaiah. He's held him, he's heard him, but he has not witnessed how absolutely adorable that blonde-haired blue-eyed toddler is.

Come to think of it, he really hasn't even seen Sarah and Ethan either. Since they moved here last year, his vision has been on the decline. Oh, can you imagine seeing all these wonderful beautiful grandkids? Watching Sarah as she reads aloud from the book they share a few days a week? Seeing Ethan's face light up with that special smile? I could cry right now. This opens up the possibility of a lot of joy for him.

That will be a treat. I pray the surgery is a gift for him. To give him the gift of his vision back will drastically increase his quality of life. I bet Brett Favre isn't getting anything that cool.

So this year, and as often as possible, we'll surround him with music and good food and grandkids and love. And Diet Coke.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Shake It Off

4 days out from the marathon... I tried running this morning. Before today, my legs would not have even cooperated to be physically ABLE to move in a running-like capacity. But today, I walked down our loooong driveway and at the end of it started running. Trotting, is more like it. I barely ran half a block before the twinge and tightness in my left quad was unbeareable.

Ok, I'll walk for a bit. Walking feels good. I'll walk as fast as I can so I work up a sweat like a power walker. That worked for a few blocks and then I picked things up again and started trotting. It felt better with warmed up muscles, but it didn't feel great. The run plan had been 2 miles so I altered my route to keep it to 20 minutes of run/walk.

Kind of disappointing, considering I feel like I should be able to jump right back into things. I guess my body just doesn't adjust well. What's taking so long? I was in running clothes, walking. I hate that. 

My ipod was on the same playlist that I listened to during the marathon. I remembered listening to Taylor Swift's Shake It Off about 3 times when I was in a really rough spot around mile 17. That fun, peppy joy of a song! It literally put a smile on my face and that made me feel a little better during the race. So, I scrolled through the playlist til I found it. I blasted it.

They say music can vividly bring you back to a moment in time. It's true. Suddenly, the memory of a race moment flooded in. The way I felt during the marathon when it was so impossibly tough, and I came up with a way to make me forget about that and just run for a while.

It felt like a truly powerful moment of caring for myself. I found the will to keep moving. In a way, it was a loving act, something wise, clever, and kind, and perhaps a bit desperate in that moment. The song could save me temporarily, and I used it. And I get to have that memory of how I acted in the face of  difficulty. Me myself and I get to keep that moment.

That little Shake-It-Off-on-repeat moment is mine.

After that I felt a little better about taking so long to recover. I'm just prolonging the memory of the experience in a physical way.

My legs may not work yet, but I'm shaking it off. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Post Race Blues

Here it is, a few days after the marathon, and all those familiar post-marathon feelings are coming up.

What was the point?

So I did all that training... kicked things off in June, meticulously grayed out each run in my spreadsheet as I completed it. I got up so early. I ran ten miles on the treadmill that one time. I spent entire Saturdays recovering from long runs on the couch because I had a wicked post-run migraine. Then I ran the race. 5 hours of running on a Sunday in October and then it's all over. Even if I would have gotten a PR, which I didn't - in fact I got my worst time - what was the point? 

No one cares but me. 

My spectators cared, on race day! That was awesome! I felt the love, man. But I came back to work and told a few people. Wow. A marathon. That's really far right? You have no idea. Honestly, it doesn't matter to anyone but me. I told my mom. She doesn't really get the distinction between this and a half marathon or anything else really. Big deal. The thing I need to remember is that it's only important to me.
What do I do now?

Do I sign up for another marathon? It was really hard, and if I don't do another one, I could totally avoid that pain! And this depressing post marathon period where I get all shitty about it being over. But the training is pretty awesome. I realize that in the past, I felt like the training was the stupid part and the race was fun. So, I'm learning and growing. I suppose that counts for something. 

I miss training, but it's too soon to fire back up to full throttle.

"They" say you should ease back into running the way you taper down for the race. Minimal miles this week, and a short long run on the weekend. Other marathoners are out running again already, so maybe I'd be ok? Do I risk it? Maybe I just jump right back into another training cycle? I lost all that weight... I don't want to gain it back! Plus, training is hard in the winter. Meh.

I feel kind of negative about this whole thing, but I guess that's part of the deal. Post marathon blues until they go away... I'll let you know when that is.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Lakefront Marathon Race Recap

A little backstory before we get to the race recap:


I didn’t think I’d ever run a marathon again after Lakefront 2009 and 2010. Mostly because the training is outrageously hard and takes up most of your life during the fact, and also because the time period directly following marathons doesn’t treat me well. In 2009 I collapsed in a cramping heap in the middle of the Lake Drive and the ambulance had to come. I was wailing in pain, delirious. And in order to stave off the same thing in 2010 I needed to walk it off for 45 minutes afterward. I avoided crowds and friends at the finish because I just needed space. Then there was the trail marathon in 2011 that caused a knee injury…and the 2011 LFM that I signed up for but didn’t train, and DNS’d. So as you can see my track record isn’t so great with 26.2 and I had settled on being a half marathoner.

But something was different this year. In February I signed up to do Lakefront again. I missed being on that course. I had cheered every year that I wasn’t out there, and I wanted to be out there. But even though I wanted it, but I still wasn't sure I could do it. (I didn’t want another 2011 incident where I said I was going to and then didn’t!)

So I kept it a great big SECRET. I told a few key people: Tom, of course, because he’s my biggest cheerleader, and also I needed him to promise early on that like previous years, he would be there to take care of me if I was a wreck at the finish. I told my sisters, I told my close circle and especially my training partner, Rochelle.

During training, as the mileage got bigger and bigger, I tried to hide the fact that I was building up to 26.2 even as I was getting into the 18 milers. Eventually people caught on because duh. By the time I was up to 20, I let the cat out of the bag since I was pretty sure, if I can do 18 and 20 and another 20 without issue, well I think I might just start the darn marathon on October 5th!
And I did. :)


Tom drove me to the start line at early-oclock, which wasn’t actually any earlier than the two of us normally get up. I hadn’t been too nervous until that morning, before that I had thought of it as just another long run. It’s just like 5 hours of running, and some pain mixed in. But now I was nervous that I had forgotten something. It turns out all I forgot were my sunglasses, which I decided I was ok without.

At the start when it was time to line up, something came over me and like a small child I nestled into the crook of Tom’s jacket and cried and could not go. I held on for a really long time. Leaving him and walking over to the corral would make it all really real. He held me, then kissed me for luck, and I went. I soaked up the national anthem, I looked around. I felt the collective nerves, hopes, prayers, energy of the crowd around me. To me, the start line is more emotional than the finish. Anything can still happen when you’re there, and it’s up to you to believe it long enough to get there. Anyway, sniffle… the gun went off!

The blur of the first few miles was mostly focusing on “when can I throw away this dingy old sweatshirt from the Dollar Store?” and seeing how long I could last without music. Sweatshirt lasted for 2 miles. The silence made it 3. Eventually somewhere I launched my gloves and bandana too. Everything started to feel like extra weight. I was heavy and stiff and that feeling really didn’t dissipate like it sometimes does. It wouldn't be a great day. You just know.

But the bright spot in this whole thing was the spectators. My friends, who popped up in random places. Rochelle, Alicia, Tony, and Marty at Concordia when I was still feeling good. Ro offered me sunglasses which I turned down but how sweet! After that boost my smile didn’t fade for a mile! Tom popped up randomly in someone’s driveway after that! He told me I was right on pace, and that helped me feel pretty good about things. Perfect thing to say. Then at an aid station at mile 9, as I was gleefully shouting “AMERICA!” at all the red white and blue volunteers, my sister Kim popped up on the other side with a sign! And I gave her jumpy hugs and blew kisses as I ran off because omg her energy. Love. Then a stretch of no one for a bit. I chugged on.


But by mile 10 I felt like I had hit the wall already, everything hurt, going forward felt impossible, and I was walking and leaning on mailboxes to stretch my quads. These were precious whole minutes ticking away that I could likely not get back. I had a ‘sort of a goal I guess’ that I wanted to finish under 4:45. I had a pace plan too, but I was 15 seconds per mile ahead of the pace plan in the early miles because I was trying not to lose the 4:40 group. Stick to your plan guys! Let me repeat that, stick to the plan! At some point I passed a guy with a whiteboard who changed the current projected finish time to 4:55. Holy crap I lost a lot of time. As long as I was still in front of the 5 hour group though. I refuse to finish after 5.

More walking, more stretching. I couldn’t believe how hard it was. I mean, this was a really bad idea. I knew it was going to hurt but the WHOLE time? The finish felt really far away, like whole cities away. Mile 15. In envisioning the race, I imagined the pain might start at this point, but I had already been agony for 5 miles. I wondered if I could do 11 more miles. At one point I was walking, and a guy passed me and the back of his shirt said “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Whoa. I started running again. I can do this.

I thought I might see some people at Klode Park around mile 19.5 so I took a little walk break before it so I could run when I saw them. During this walk break the 5 hour group passed me. Cue slow-mo “Nooooo!”. I fucking hustled to get in front of them! I would NOT have my spectators miss me because I was lost in that 5 hour group (or God forbid, behind it).

No one at the park….oof. I turned the corner after the aid station and then I heard my name. In the distance a whole huge group was rallying for me! As I ran past all of them and got every high five I could, I tried to look at each face. The signs! The friends! Family! Smiles! Kids! It was Kim, my brother Wade and sister in law and niece and nephew, and Nicole and Sue, and Steena and Mr. Steena! And I fell in love with mile 20. I saw Erica , Chris, and Renee at 21 and more energy! And then Becky!

 My smile would not fade now. Something changed. Yes it was hard, and it hurt, but it actually couldn’t get any worse. And I had been taking all my salt tabs and Shot Bloks and drinking on schedule, and I would finish this thing. Less than 10k left to go. So I just kept running, except when I had to massage out a wicked cramp that was starting. But I ran and ran.

More spectators popped up and I passed people and I kept moving when other people were walking. Kim and John and Rochelle and Tony and Marty made another sneak appearance in those late miles and I could barely smile for them but I telepathically thanked them. After the mile 25 sign I just grinned like crazy, this would get done. I did it. I wanted this, and I went and got it, and it would be mine if I could just run for like 12 more minutes.


And I turned into Veterans Park and I could hear the finish cheers and see the funnel, and Kim was actually literally running alongside me now and I asked her for a powerup so I could “sprint” into the finish, and she tagged me with all her energy and I used it and pushed it and WOOHOO I finished!!

Official time was 4:56:52. An 11:20 pace. I find that respectable, and I gained a few minutes in front of that 5 hour group in the last 10k, which was amazing. AND! I didn’t collapse and cramp up at the finish! I felt good! I hung around and was able to thank my spectators for being there and get hugs and congrats!

I also haven’t gotten that sense of happy-tears giddy euphoria. I think in its place is a sense of calm respect. Don’t doubt the distance. The marathon will eat you alive, kids. But you can do it.