Thursday, June 23, 2011

Forty-One-Derful

This month has been pretty quiet on the old blog-front.  Historically, June has been declared "Birthday Month" and I fuss about reinvention and me-me-me and take the time to draw even more attention to myself than usual. I think it was the 3rd or 4th before I even realized it was time to turn the page on the calendar. My gaze has been so focused on my job hunt and its accompanying stresses that I didn't take time to reflect on leaving Forty behind until just before bed last night.

It was a fantastic year. So fantastic, in fact, that I'm a bit nervous about out-doing it.  Going into Forty, I had clear expectations, and they came to fruition: run a marathongraduate from college. Heart surgerygetting hit by a car while on the scooter and having the transmission fail on the van aside, it was undoubtedly the greatest year of my life.

And so as I was hitting the sack and reflecting on the year and my life and my path, I see that I might very well finally be a grown-up. I have my college degree. I'm [desperately] seeking a real job.

So what do I have to look forward to now? Well, very soon I will have a grown-up job with a grown-up paycheck and grown-up responsibilities. That means I will start paying my student loans, socking away money into savings and retirement accounts, offering my children opportunities like team sports and music lessons, and maybe even getting the cat in for a checkup (news flash: she's overweight).

So while I can't run my first marathon again, and I can't earn my first college degree again, I can continue to enjoy new and fantastic experiences, like paying my bills on time and getting regular oil changes.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Run Like a Girl!

Tears welled in my eyes as I read my email that April morning. Nine-year-old Princess Pearl had sent me an invitation to run my first 5K with her...on Mother's Day. That she was eager to share one of my greatest passions was almost too much for my weary-from-school head to comprehend.

We'd run together once before. She was a natural. Her pace was comfortable and confident. She had stamina that left me envious. She ran two miles without any breaks and felt great afterward. A 5K would be a breeze with only a bit more training.

It just so happened that this 5K was the day after graduation, so Casey and her youngest would be at my house for the celebration -- and the race. Princess Pearl was thrilled to have her long-time (and by that I mean friends since they were two years old) friend J run with her, and I was naturally tickled to hit the road again with Casey (no need to do the friends-since math here). A 3rd grade classmate and her even younger sister were also participating with their mom, so we were working the whole friends + fitness = fun equation to the third degree.

The morning after the graduation party came at an ungodly hour, but we all arose to the task, excited to participate in a girls-only run. The weather was delightful and once we were armed with coffee, we headed out.

While I have a propensity to ramble, I think I'll let the photos do the work today...
Smart AND Strong!

Go, runners, GO!

Best finish line expression EVER

First-time 5K runners get tiaras!

McPherson's finest

Like mothers, like daughters

We resisted making faces (in front of the camera)
I'm so proud off the little ones for participating and finishing. It was incredibly inspiring to see nearly 4000 young and not-so-young ladies of all shapes and sizes gather to celebrate community and wellness and girl-power. Can't wait to share more experiences like this with my Three Little Diggs.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

An Uphill Battle

As we said our goodbyes the 2011 Hospital Hill half marathon, Mark and I agreed that it was probably our last. He's run it twice, me, three times. And while for me the first year was absolutely magical, the past two (which I dragged Mark into) have been anything but.

Last year I observed that anticipating the difficulty level proved counterproductive (at least for the way my brain works). That, and the difference between a cloudy 60° v. a humid 85° is akin to the difference between Ghirardelli 70% cacao and chocolate flavored chips.

Like last year, the heat was oppressive.  At the 7:00 a.m. start, it was 80° and 70% humidity. But I went in feeling like I was well prepared to PR (personal record) as my average time had improved by more than 30 seconds per mile. I was determined to stick with the 2:00 pace group regardless of pain or exhaustion. And I did. For about three miles.

Then I had to pee. And there was this hill. And the pacer really sped up. And. And. And. By mile five, I wanted to quit. Really. I really, really wanted to walk away from the miserable morning to which I had subjected myself. And then I was really, really bothered by those thoughts that were so uncharacteristic of me. After a way-too-long portapotty break (a line three deep and I swear, the others had forgotten that they were running a race!), I kept moving forward, knowing a PR was well out of reach, but really, unless heat stroke or a broken leg took me down, I wasn't about to allow myself to quit.

It was a long haul, but not terribly lonely. A gal who has taken some of my spin classes caught my attention and we chatted (read: complained) for awhile. I grabbed a high-five (they provide about fifty yards of turbo boost) around mile nine from another Y acquaintance. And Mark's son was waiting at mile ten with an icy washcloth and a big bottle of Gatorade. At that point I was just putting one foot in front of the other. I was hot and miserable but didn't doubt my finish. Crowd support was good, but not entertaining enough to make me leave my sorrows by the roadside.

Finally I turned the corner that foreshadowed the last beast of a hill before a long downhill slope to the finish. I maintained my jog up the hill and just as I crested it and wanted to let momentum carry me downward, my stomach started turning. I couldn't give any more power to my legs as I was using it to keep my wits about myself. The 2:15 pacer was teasing me to beat him in that last long half mile. I'm not sure if I did, but I finished. 


I grabbed a water and my medal and soon found Mark. He beat my time by a potty break and about three minutes. As we limped back to the car we expressed our lack of enthusiasm for running Kansas City's hills in June. I remarked that I hadn't gotten an exercise high in quite some time. He replied, "Well, it's 'cause you're in love."



And that's when it all added up.  Remember way back in the day when this blog was titled Exercise is a Reasonable Substitute for Love? Well, I meant it. And while I'd love to argue that exercise is a delightful compliment to love, I occasionally fear that love might be a reasonable substitute for exercise.

Naaaaahh.   I'll stick with the compliment version. I'm pretty sure I don't want to go on without one or the other.