What I got around to–and didn’t–in 2012

A few days ago, I was (finally) cleaning off the top of my dresser and came across my list of things I wanted to accomplish this year. Turns out, 2012 turned into the year in which I got some shit done.

The list was a list of intentions (formerly known as resolutions) for the new year. It contained some heavy hitters:

  • Read 35 books
  • Propose my dissertation
  • Run (read: finish) the analyses for my dissertation
  • Find and start my internship
  • Run a half marathon
  • Run a full marathon
  • Do a triathlon
  • Maybe lose those last 20 pounds finally?
  • Be mindful and intentional of how I spend money
  • Be mindful and intentional of what/how much I eat
  • Pray/meditate 3-4 times per week
  • Keep a daily gratitude journal
  • Add a couple more misfit toys to this island on which I live
  • Be more intentional about staying connected to people
  • Accept my body for what it is
  • Finish books I’ve started

Well.

Some of that got taken care of early in the year. I’d read 35 books by the summer, so I bumped the goal up a few more times since. Turns out, I finished 55 books this year…and I’ll tell you what I loved (and didn’t) next time. I’ll also maybe probably not tell you what’s still on the list that may not ever get fully read. Not only did I propose and finish the analyses for my dissertation, but I defended that bitch on 12/12/12. And there are no words to describe the feeling of having that thing done. Meanwhile, I’m mid-way through my internship and loving it more than I thought possible. I’m thankful for where and with whom I work–and that I get to do nothing but enjoy it from now until May.

I knocked out that half marathon in January and was well on my way to taking out a full before I got injured. I didn’t do enough to take care of my body as much as I was pounding it into the ground logging miles. So I made the decision to make the March marathon another half. Given that it was in hilly Atlanta on a hot March morning, I was glad I’d made that decision. The triathlon still hasn’t happened, though the desire is ever present. Regardless, I am pleased to report that I finished six races this year. As for those 20 pounds, they’re still here. But I have a plan for those little bastards. And I still haven’t accepted my body for what it is–well…not fully. But probably more so than I ever have.

The mindfulness of money and food will probably always be a work in progress. I think I was more mindful of both at different points during the year. For sure, those will be things on the list for 2013. I have incorporated new ways of spending (read: I give more to other people/organizations/needs than spend it on me) and eating (read: NEW RECIPES) (THAT MY PEOPLE LOVE). So there’s that.

I really wanted to work to stay and be more connected to people–and to open our home more to people than I had previously. I was able to start some of that…and will continue to do so next year.

And then there was the spiritual stuff. I did well with praying/meditating and keeping a gratitude journal…for about four months. I think the lack of structure (compared to what it had been) during the summer was part of the problem. So I’ll recycle those two for next year as well.

I haven’t quite set my intentions for this year. I know there’s a half marathon on the books for March. I need to finish my edits to my dissertation for the grad school…and then my internship so I will be officially done in May. I would like need to get a big girl job with a for real paycheck. And all the other stuff from above that I didn’t quite accomplish this year. But hey, it’s a work in progress. And really, I did get some shit done this year.

I am thankful for all that 2012 has been and look forward to the new year with anticipation of what it will be. Happy New Year to you and yours.

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More Than Just Sweat

I did that little half-marathon today. And I have that little oral prelim meeting on Tuesday. I’ve been pretty freaked out about the latter. Because this semester is already whack and you just never know what will happen next.

Somewhere between miles two and three this morning, I got to thinking about how everyone who does longer races will tell you that you train the best you can, rely on your training to get you through the miles on race day, and let that be enough.

There’s a parallel process here.

I have been well-trained in this program. I know that. This past week, I’ve been wondering if that were enough. Just like I’ve wondered whether my training for this race was enough. What I have consistently found to be true for myself is that race day always goes better than any training day I’ve had. The training runs may be good, but I still enter the race day with some doubt. And then I cross the line and start running. And I move along, mile by mile until I cross the line at the finish.

And so, I’m hoping the same will hold true for me for Tuesday morning. That my training IS enough. That I DO know more than I think. And that my training will carry me through the meeting.

And for your viewing (and inspirational) enjoyment, thanks to Chelsea for supplying this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5j0i41Nn58

Running Tobacco Road

Mama ran a half-marathon this morning. And scored a new PR. And maintained a rockin’ (well, rockin’ for me) average pace.

 

Here’s the skinny on Tobacco Road.

Parking: A+

And that was satellite. But I think that has a lot to do with the time I arrived. Also, for you local peeps, head over to satellite parking via Davis Drive. Cuts WAY down on traffic. If you ARE going to do this race, I highly recommend springing for a parking pass or having my kickass support staff watching over you.

 

Volunteers: A+

These people worked HARD…started early…and by the end (more on that in a sec) received a lot of crap that should be directed to the organizers. There were plenty of volunteers to help with parking, make sure you got what you needed at the finish, and lots of people handing out beverages and snacks along the way. (I was even handed a cup of Gatorade by one of my professors. True story.)

 

Race course: A

This course makes you forget you live near a city of any size at all. And when I turned onto the actual Tobacco Trail, I felt a twinge of nostalgia. It was like running on home turf. And that sentiment says to me that I’m over all the miles and hours I logged on that trail for Disney and could once again run it. It helps that the trail is open into Chatham County now too. Of course, that may have been true for a while and I’m late to the party on that one. I’m OK with that. The rest of the course was through farms and edges of neighborhoods. It’s pretty flat, though there are some long, gradual hills. But I trained on steeper hills, so I was good with that.

 

Schwag: A

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that this year’s logo/design were 5,000% better. Of course, this was only the second running of Tobacco Road. It could only go up. The t-shirts were technical and divided between race distance and gender. The women’s shirt has a good fit and is what you would expect size-wise. The expo offered other opportunities to buy more schwag specifically designed for this race, and the prices were VERY reasonable. And the medal had a great design and is one of the biggest I’ve earned.

 

Overall organization: C+

They started lining us up in the corral for the on-time start of 7:00 AM. The gun went off at about 7:20 AM. Did I mention it was 46 degrees? Granted, the weather was PERFECT for running…but not for standing around. Apparently there were some late shuttles from satellite parking they decided to wait for…which meant the stagger start for the marathoners was pushed back even more.

Post race was good in terms of where things were located in the venue. Getting back to the parked cars was an altogether different matter. There was no signage to get you back to where the shuttle would pick you up. Once you finally figured it out (Thank you, Mr. Ossifer), you got in a line that ended up having everyone waiting. Word on the sidewalk was there were 15 charter buses running shuttle. Try 5. It literally took me 2 solid hours from the time I got in line until the time I got to my car.

Mr./Ms. Organizer, my legs were tired. I was tired. I was cold…and freakin’ hungry. From a recovery and nutritional standpoint, you’re asking for trouble when you make your runners wait for at least 2 hours to get back to their cars.

People were seriously calling cabs to pick them up and take them to satellite parking.

THIS is why you spring for that parking pass (BTW, who knew THAT was an option?) or have your support staff with the car parked relatively close by.

 

Overall experience: B+

I mean, I DID get a PR. In fact, I was rockin’ those first 10 miles…it was after that I started to have some issues (dang hips). But that’s about me and my training. We couldn’t have ordered better weather. The course was delightful. The wait to get on the bus not so much.

I might be willing to do this one again, especially since it’s local, but they still have some kinks to work out first.

Running for Warriors

I picked up my packet today for the Tobacco Road half-marathon. Driving in Cary is still hell, but the t-shirts and logo for this year’s race are 5,000% better than last year. And the medal is freakin’ HUGE.

I’m running this race without my support staff…and I probably won’t stick around at the finish for a tasty adult beverage. (I did get a commemorative pint glass to which I’ll add my own mirth and jocularity later, I’m sure.) I’ll be alone for probably all of my 13.1 miles.

And yet, I’m still motivated to do this one.

Last year, I ran several races, including the Warrior Dash in Georgia. The Dash was more of a fun romp through the mountain area with an obstacle course and entertaining costumes thrown in. This weekend I’m doing a different kind of warrior event. Proceeds from this year’s Tobacco Road Marathon and Half-Marathon go to The Wounded Warrior Project. I had the goal of running a race as a Project benefit last year, but it didn’t work out for me then. So I’m doing tomorrow.

Thinking about doing this race solo reminds me that these wounded warriors leave our soil as one person and return from someone else’s soil a different individual. Though they are surrounded by those they love and who love and care for them, the road to recovery is often long, hard, painful and lonely. And who knows when they cross the finish line to recovery…or how many finish lines they will cross along the way. And so, early tomorrow morning, I will join a long, hard, exhausting and lonely road–no longer chasing down a new PR but finishing one leg of a journey for me…and for them. Mostly for them.

Thank you to the many brave men and women who make the choice to live a life of service to our country, even at a high cost to themselves and the people they love.

This is why I run.

Running is Cheaper Than Therapy

I started running–really, seriously running–the same time I started this PhD thing. Well…really it started that summer when I incorporated more running into my workouts. It escalated when I was sitting on a balcony in Mexico with Robin and a copy of the Endurance Magazine. She looked up from the article about the City of Oaks marathon and said, “We could totally do that.”

It was August. The race was the beginning of November. I was about to start a PhD program. T minus three months to race day.

Sure. Why not?

A few weeks later, I discovered why not. There was no way in hell I was going to be able to train for a marathon that semester. I was barely doing long runs on the weekend. In fact, I did one 8-miler…on a treadmill. (Have I mentioned that it’s blazing hot around here until Thanksgiving?) I was putting up 12-14 miles during the week (also on a treadmill). But we opted to switch our registration to the half-marathon.

***It should be noted right here that my husband opted to keep the marathon registration and get ready for it anyway–since it was a mere two weeks before his 30th birthday.

Anywhoooo. I ran most of that half-marathon and was hooked. So I set a goal for another one. It happened in March of 2009 in VA Beach. While sitting in the hot tub after that one, Robin again looked up and said, “I’m doing the Disney marathon next January.” She even spit out the date. “Who’s in?” This time, she meant business. And the people in the hot tub with us were not ready to be outdone. It was kind of an all or nothing thing at that point because we all wanted to do it together. And Robin was in. And so were the rest of us.

If you’ve read this blog for any time at all now, you’ll know that I like racing. And I LOVE a good half-marathon. Especially when there’s good beer at the finish line. (Good swag helps, too.) As I keep rolling through this PhD program, I can’t help but draw some parallels.

Getting a PhD is a (perhaps THE) test of perseverance. It’s an endurance contest…a marathon…at times a Warrior Dash. In both arenas, you have to train…hard…and then trust your training on race day…or proposal or defense or prelim day.

For me, one doesn’t necessarily inform the other…it’s the running that gets me through school. It’s the running that helps me process the events of this semester–just as it has in semesters past. It’s, in part, the long runs on the weekend that are keeping me sane as I keep hitting bumps in the academic road. It’s the running that helps me stay healthy and sane most days of the week (and when not running, it’s yoga).

Running is cheaper and more accessible (i.e., can be done at 6:00 AM) than therapy.

Because let’s face it. This getting a PhD thing is bananas.

Support Staff

There will be more to come from the OBX race weekend, but I thought I’d whet your appetite with this…especially since it’s Al’s birthday.

 

After Al did his first marathon, he swore never again. When I signed up for my second half-marathon, he and the other non-running husbands agreed to sign on as support staff. Their job description includes: transportation, picture-taking, loading the car so the wife with tired legs doesn’t have to make multiple trips, childcare during training, cheering, mimosa-making, finding a place to get breakfast while the wives run, race day drop-off, pack mule for the dry bag, being there at the finish. Support staff fee: beer at the finish line. Because there’s usually lots of it. Or just pancakes while they wait.

Al even actively did support staff as a runner in his second marathon (my first…and truly his last). And he crossed the finish line, said “Never again, and I mean it this time,” and signed on as permanent support staff.

He once again took on that role this past weekend at the OBX Marathon and Half-Marathon. Not only for us, but for a man named Scott. Most of my people were waiting near the 26 mile marker for Robin to finish the marathon. We cheered other runners and encouraged them (hopefully) by telling them that once they rounded that corner at 26, they had one more turn before the finish line. And we cringed for the runners who looked like they were really hurting. And then there was Scott.

He turned the corner at 26 and his legs were visibly toast. He moved off the course to a small tree and leaned against it–until he slid down the side and laid on his back in the grass. A security person and another woman went over to attend to him. Al realized that they would need additional help to get that man from the grass to medical, and the security person couldn’t leave his post. Al and the other woman got Scott to his feet and walked/carried him to the next turn to where he could see the finish line. Scott demonstrated that he was of sound mind by stating his name, the date and what he was doing…his body was just toast. But he dug deep and said, “I’m going to jog it in.” Al and the other woman let go, but stayed nearby to make sure he stayed upright…until he was close enough to the finish line and within feet of medical.

Scott crossed the finish line of that marathon in four hours.

I’m not sure he was prepared for the kind of finish he had, and I’m not really sure that Al predicted becoming support staff for another runner. But that’s how this thing goes. You don’t have to run to participate in the running community–all are welcome. Because we need runners and support staff and volunteers and those strangers on the side of the road blaring music, ringing cow bells and giving high-fives.

And knowing that kind of unconditional support is out there–and that there are people that get why we do what we do as runners–is why I run.