Running with Heart

Six years ago, sitting on a balcony in Mexico with my best friend and a copy of Endurance Magazine, I was talked into registering for the City of Oaks Marathon.

“We can so do this,” she said.

Keep in mind, I’d NEVER run a race. She’d done a few, but not anything longer than a 10K.

“I will if you will,” I said.

So we signed up. And then I started a PhD program and she resumed life with her husband and five children (whom she’d had for just over a year at that point). Needless to say, our lives blew apart and so did our training. So we made another pact. Let’s change our registration to the HALF MARATHON. Brilliant. No problem.

My longest long run between August and the beginning of November that year was 8 miles.

On a treadmill.

Yeah. I know. I can hear you laughing from here.

No really. Pick yourself up off the floor. It’s unbecoming at this point.

As you might imagine, that race sucked. But I finished it. And the feeling I had coming across that finish line…I rode that high for a good three days.

And the day I crossed that finish line, I knew I’d do it again. With a more than a little more training.

Post 13.1 City of Oaks 07 2

And I have. Over and over. Seven half-marathons, one full, a couple of 10 milers, several 10Ks, and…finally…a few 5Ks.

I became a runner.

Even though running and I are frenemies.

So I was excited today to register once again for the City of Oaks 13.1. And even convince a potential new running (or at least racing) buddy to join me.

I mean, really excited. Because, y’all, I’ve been doing Insanity this summer. And NOTHING has made me miss running more than that.

In spite of the fact that I’m not the world’s greatest runner. Certainly not the fastest. Usually I’m the most self-conscious when it comes to running with other people–even my best running friends.

Maybe it’s because, when all else fails, I run with heart. Because it’s the activity that helps me stay healthy…mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s the thing that contributed to the machine beeping at how low my resting heart rate was when I went in for my most recent physical. And what contributed to my blood pressure being only marginally higher.

It’s the thing that sometimes helps me to appreciate my body and all the many things it can do.

And I was reminded of that even more acutely this afternoon as I sat in a hospital room, visiting a man and his family–none of whom I’d seen in years. But they have always been so special to me. He is working to become strong enough to have surgery to install a heart pump. Without that…or a brand new heart altogether…he won’t be with us for much longer. As I watched the ways in which his wife, daughter, granddaughter, son-in-law and neighbors take care of him and pour love into him, I was reminded of just how powerful it is to work from the heart. Whatever the work.

I know how powerful the heart can be–and how devastating it can be when the heart no longer functions. And maybe it’s another reason I keep running. Because at the end of the day, I can still run and move my body in so many beautiful ways…ways in which other people cannot. And sometimes, I run for them.

Six Little Minutes

For long distance runners, the Boston Marathon is the stuff of legends, dreams, and running bucket lists. In some ways, it’s the Super Bowl of the running world…not because it’s a competition–though it is–but because of the excitement and camaraderie that unites everyone at the start line. It’s a race you have to work for…because the only way in is to qualify or raise money for charities. Period.

Last year, my best friend worked her butt off to qualify for Boston. For the first several months of the year, she ran a marathon a month to make it happen. Each time the race started, I held my breath a little and waited for texts from her husband or some other form of live update. I waited for her to cross the finish line and see if she made it in time. And each time, I started making plans in my head for being her support staff on race day in Boston this year.

She missed qualifying by six minutes.

When the story broke this afternoon, I couldn’t help but think of her and her efforts to qualify…to say nothing of the people I know who live in Boston, the people involved in any way in the race, and the city itself which I so desperately love. I sent my friend a text to say how thankful I was that she didn’t qualify last year for this year’s race. Her response was, “Me too! 6 little minutes!”

In a world where things change in a matter of seconds, I am thankful for the time that has been extended because of those six minutes. I am thankful for the beauty of the running world and the ways in which we all find hope and peace and clarity and excitement and enjoyment and camaraderie in the sport. I am thankful for the ways in which people have responded. And I am thankful to love and be loved by such incredible people…and that I get to hug some of them a little tighter tonight or the next time I see them. Because of six little minutes.

A Fifth

I did my fifth half-marathon this past weekend in Charleston.

And got a new PR.

This was the second ever marathon, half-marathon, and 5K in Charleston for this group of race organizers. And it was evident for many reasons. I’m confident they’ll work out the kinks in a few years. The nice part was that it was small. As in, my chip time was only about a minute off the race clock. And folks, I’ve YET to run a race where that was possible. Also, we got a pretty cool medal. And you know you’re running in a southern coastal town when, at the finish line, they have boiled peanuts, shrimp and grits, and beer waiting for you.

Of course, I had to survive the wind that never stopped and the course that, once you got out of downtown, was so boring I was ready to gouge out my eyeballs. I should have occupied my time by counting warehouses. Then again, I probably would have lost count. Fortunately, I was hovering around a pace group and that kept me focused on different things. Like how likely they were to smoke me by the end.

But I did survive. The pace group did leave me, but I came down the chute with a sh*t eating grin on my face looking up at the race clock and knowing I’d done it. I shaved 7 minutes off my time from my last half in March of last year.

Not too shabby.

The other nice thing was that my legs and hips NEVER hurt. I just got tired. Part of that was, I think, because I didn’t really fuel up well the day before. Or the day of. Or the entire week before this whole nonsense was supposed to go down.

I thought I was going to be able to report that I’d run the race of my life. Because I did…for nine miles. And then that ninth mile was the longest EVER. And there was some walking between 10 and the finish line. What kept me going, however, was the knowledge that two cups of Shock Top awaited me at the finish. Don’t judge me, people. Beer is a GREAT recovery drink.

And then I got in that VERY LONG line for the beer…after I snagged some fruit, a bite of a bagel, some A-MAZING green tea that’s produced locally…and the longer I waited, the crankier I became. Then, FINALLY, I got up to the man with the taps to the sweet nectar and handed over BOTH of my tickets. That’s right. I two-fisted it outta there. And then dove back through the line for a cup of boiled peanuts (because they were warm and I was not). And then I headed over to the shrimp and grits area to see if one of my peeps was there. On the way, I drank beer #1. Quickly. As in, gone in thirty paces.

And lest you judge me for THAT, I would like to point out two things: (1) three cups, two hands–you do the math, and (b) holding two cups of beer when you’re already cold only makes you colder.

Which is why I made my way around to near the entrance of the tent to wait for my friend…and cuddle next to a heater. Meanwhile, I started in on those boiled peanuts and kept refueling my body with liquid. And then my friend showed up. He’d not yet gotten his shrimp and grits and we decided it was time. And then I took a step.

You know how when you’re drinking and not moving you don’t really feel the effects of what you’ve just done? And then you stand up/take a step? Yeeeeeaaaaaaah.

Wowza.

The shrimp and grits were kinda tasty. The boiled peanuts were freaking awesome. And I finally righted myself enough to head back to the finish line to wait for my best friend to finish the marathon.

I have to say…I was UNBELIEVABLY proud of Robin that day. Turns out she’d pulled off the course at mile 2 and debated walking back to the hotel.

Y’all. She does. not. quit.

Ever.

She gutted it out from mile 2 to the finish line. She’d been sick the week before and her stomach was jacked the morning of the race. She was never more proud of earning a medal than that one on Saturday. (And she’s done a half Iron Man). I was proud of her, too. Especially since that course only got more boring in the second half (kinda like the Patriots/Broncos game did later that night).

I’m also proud of her husband who scored a PR in the 5K, having shaved 5 minutes off his time in about 5 weeks. And thankful that he was able to still run support staff for us as well.

I also came away from that race feeling more ready for this full marathon I’m supposed to be doing in March. Of course, I have to register first…

Pregnancy and Vegetarianism

So….guess who’s pregnant???

Not me.

My seester in love!!! I’m gonna be an aunt again.

We’re still a few weeks out from being able to determine the gender of Dillweed–yes, that is what we are all calling Baby Dos.

Also, you’d be amazed to learn what you can find on the interwebs these days. Everything from a honey badger and python in a death match to a onesie that SAYS Dillweed.

See:

I know some of you were pulling for a little Whitehouse to show up some time in the upcoming year. At this point, the only thing I’m gestating is a dissertation.However, I was starting to LOOK like I was pregnant. Apparently, I wasn’t getting enough protein in my body and so I was hungry all. the. time. And ate. all. the. time. So I’m back on the meat wagon….mostly because it takes too much extra time to think about and plan for plant based protein to make sure I get what I need not because I really wanted to eat meat again… (Helloooooo, steak.)Ironically enough, I’m still hungry. Because I’m eating less (even when you eat healthy stuff, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing) and my body is still adjusting. But it seems to be handling meat just fine. Most of the time.

So there you have it.

Dillweed’s ETA is April 9, 2012 (Seester is hatching a bunny).

I’m gestating a dissertation…and eating less…and running more…and getting ready for a 10-miler in VA Beach on my birthday.

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.

Races and a Racing Bucket List

I think I promised this a month or so ago…finally I have a chance to write it.

 

I’m getting together with Robin next week to have lunch and shop and do what we do…but we’re also pulling out calendars to talk about next year’s races.

On my docket for spring:

Krispy Kreme Challenge–even ESPN gets in on this action. Run 2 miles, scarf a donut or 12, run 2 miles back. The challenge: Keep it down.

American Tobacco Trail 13.1–the inaugural half/full marathon was this past March and it got great reviews from folks. The t-shirt design could use a major improvement, but the course is flat and pretty fast…perfect for that 13.1 PR.

Cooper River Bridge Run (10K)–if you’ve never run this race, you should. It’s one of the largest races in. the. world. And taking out that bridge is a great feeling.

Tarheel 10-miler–ends in Kenan Stadium…enemy territory. Fortunately, they let supporters of other ACC teams crash the party. You can bet I’ll be blowin’ in with my red, white and black.

 

And that’s all I got right now. Which means, according to Rob, that we gotta find a January race…and another one in May. We’ll see about that. I like that I’m keeping it local-ish for the spring. And I guess I should start registering for some of this nonsense.

 

And now for the list of races I want to run some day:

The Goofy Challenge: Run the Donald Duck 13.1 on Saturday and then run the Mickey Mouse 26.2 the next day. The pay-off: THREE medals…one Donald, one Mickey and one Goofy. Oh…and I think you might even get three shirts, too….

 

The Flying Pig Marathon (Cincinnati): you get a t-shirt with a flying pig on it. Why WOULDN’T you?

 

The Portland Marathon (Oregon): mostly flat, the city’s waterfront, cool temps, a bridge (surprisingly, I don’t hate them after this year), Mt. Hood, Mt. S. Helens, and really great schwag. And maybe I can work in a Kane concert at Dante’s, too.

 

Army 10-Miler (Washington DC): It sells out in about 30 hours. That’s saying something. Start at the Pentagon, cross the Potomac, run the mall, see the monuments, head back over the river. And it’s only 10 miles, unlike….

The Marine Corps Marathon (also DC): I really like DC. And you get to see more of the city on foot this way. And a marine drapes the medal around your neck at the finish line.

And speaking of medals…

Nike Women’s Marathon (San Francisco): The finisher’s medal is a Tiffany necklace. It’s put around your neck by a fireman in a tux. Hills? What hills?

 

ING New York City Marathon: “If there’s a chance you’ll run only one marathon, it has to be New York.” Well, I said that about Disney, but EVERYONE says that about New York. Guess I’m gonna have to make it happen some day. Besides, I’ve never been to the Big Apple.

***Note, I will not qualify. I will fund raise or enter by lottery. May I remind you all that I’m an ox?

 

Boston Marathon: I thought I’d never be able to run this one. Ever. (See previous note about qualifying) But then I learned you can fund raise your way in. Score. I’ll be sure to hit all of you up for donations.

 

The Publix Georgia 13.1. It’s sponsored by Publix and it’s in Atlanta. I call that a no-brainer.

 

Myrtle Beach Mini-marathon. By mini, they mean 13.1 miles. But the medal this past year was a surf board that doubled as a bottle opener.

 

Virginia is for Lovers 14K: it’s part of the J & A Racing group‘s race line-up in VA Beach. It’s flat and they have REALLY good schwag.

Speaking of VA Beach: I’m thinking one year I need to do the race challenge: Wicked 10K, Surf-N-Santa 10 miler, VA is for Lovers 14K and Shamrock 13.1 or 26.2. You do all that, and the prize this time around was a cooler and a pint glass.

 

I will run for some schwag. And beer. There has to be good beer.

 

Men’s Health Urbanathlon: Road race meets obstacle course from hell. It looks AWESOME.

 

And maybe some day I’ll tackle a half-ironman. Maybe.

 

So there’s the list. And there may be more to come. I have some people trying to suck me into the USMC Mud Run in SC and the Tough Mudder (Google that SOB…unh uh).

Any takers?

Initiate Radio Silence

We are two days into the start of the fall 2010 semester.

Holy hell.

You would think at this point in my program that I would have it a little easier. And the reality is that I could have, but I needed some “professional development” that is not otherwise offered through what is required. So. Here’s what I’ll be doing this fall….

-Taking my last required class for my PhD (holler)

-Surviving my last required class for my PhD (because I will seriously have to know: This study published by these people looked at this. In what year was it published?)

-Forming my dissertation committee

-Taking prelims (basically a month long test to see how well I can write under pressure and then talk about what I wrote)

-Proposing my dissertation

-Working in the advising office

-Doing a practicum in the University Counseling Center (professional development and really (hopefully) good experience)

-Figuring out how to transport my child from home to Apex High to the Hill Center in Durham (12:00-3:00) and home again. It takes a village, people. Seriously.

-Trying to maintain my sanity and a workout routine

-Doing one more race this year (a nice, flat 10K)…although my dear friend Robin is trying to talk me into a half marathon in Novermber…

-Trying to still be a good wife, mother, daughter…and hopefully friend

-Celebrating my 5th anniversary (helloooooo Bob Timberlake Inn)

-State Fair, VA Beach for one race, the beach at Labor Day, probably heading south for Thanksgiving with a ton of people

And those are just the things off the top of my head.

So, dear readers, though I have other things about which I need and want to blog, if the blog is awfully quiet for a few months, you’ll know why.

And if you see my dead carcass lying around…well…just step over me and keep on going. At least I’ll be asleep.