Winging it

Still. You haven’t been training and you can punch out 13.1 miles? You’re amazing.

The above sentence was part of a larger email conversation with some friends this week.  It was a work conversation but somehow it came back to running.  And my friend’s mistaken belief that I’m amazing.  Well, I am. Amazing (and humble too! Ha!).  But not an amazing runner.   Probably it’s just that I am amazingly delusional.

Okay maybe delusional is a strong word.

You read stories (if you read running magazines) about people who decide on a whim to start running and they wind up running 2 miles a day for 2 weeks and then they pound out winning times in half marathons.  Or I’ve heard of people whose longest runs were 8 miles (maybe) and they just totally rocked a marathon with paces I never have approached and probably never will. Seems that the more I read about running and people who take to it – the more I hear of people who are just flying down the roads even as newbies.

But I realize that most of those stories are of people who fall into one (or more) of three categories.  Either they have had previous athletic experience (high schools sports or the like) or they are those blessed with incredible DNA.   Or maybe they are really really motivated, active people.

Me?  I’m just ordinary.  Just your run of the mill middle aged woman who took up running cause she likes shiny medals but who does not have athletic genes or any high school sports awards (other than a varsity letter in badminton – which is a sport but albeit it not a showy, challenging one) and whose motivation level depends on how many cookies she’ll be rewarded with at the end of the given challenge.

In other words – I’ve not turned out to be one of those people who took up running to discover that there was a hidden Ironman inside just waiting to burst forth. I’m just putting one foot in front of the other and hoping for the best along with some small miracles.

And I do sort of look out for those miracle moments.

In response to my friend’s comment about being amazing, I said: I once swung randomly at a ball in putt-putt and got a hole in one.   I live life expecting random good things to happen to me when I am underprepared.  (it helps to know that prior to that incident, I once skinned both my knees playing putt-putt.  But that is a long story for another time)

Running 13.1 miles is obviously not the same as a putt-putt hole-in-one.  I get that.  But sometimes you just realize that while you might be winging it – maybe something good will come of it.  Certainly not award winning paces.  But maybe not bad ones either.

And winging it is really not a great description of what I think Saturday will hold for me.  I am a runner.  I do run.  My training plan fell apart but I still ran. And I’ve run Disney 2x before.  I have a good mental grasp of what it takes to finish those 13.1.  I know where my favorite parts of the course are.  I know how I feel (mentally and physically) generally speaking at about the halfway point and at other mile markers.  I know what it’s like to round thru the last part in Epcot when the freaking finish line seems to not be where it should.  I know how much I hate going up the ramp when the green solider from Toy Story yells at you.  But I also know that thus far I’ve been successful at looking down from the overpass after that and seeing MANY people still behind me.  I know which port-a-potties to avoid (the ones in the grassy areas with lots of bugs in the grass) and I know what it’s like to meet my family afterwards. I even know how to get to the medical tent (but that will NOT be necessary).  I know that I hate yellow Gatorade so I’ll wear my fuel belt but I also know I’ll give in and drink some of the darn yellow Gatorade anyway.  (WHY can’t races use orange Gatorade?  Hello??)

But I also know I am so blessed to have two legs and some (not lots but some) stamina. And I know I will be going into this with family members who are most likely going to yell at me and push me past some of my own limits.  But they’ll also be cheering with me to the end. And I know that I’ll be happy to have done the experience again because I like to run.

So yeah – all in all that seems pretty amazing, I guess.

Saturday Run minus one

I ran 3 miles this morning.  Not fast as it’s 200% humidity here in West Central Florida.  But Wendy and Sunita and I slogged it out.  Then Wendy went to the Y for a class,  Sunita ran on for another 5 or so, and I headed home.  But in those three miles, so much felt okay but there was a definite bit of sadness too.  You see, it was the first time in a long time that our Saturday morning group hadn’t been initiated by an email from our fearless leader, June.  And she won’t be joining our runs again for awhile.

You see, today June and her family are starting their adventure of driving to Alaska, their new home.  And frankly, I’m not the only one who is sad.  Most of our little neck of the suburbs is quite upset about the move.  Namely cause June is great fun, but moreover because she is better connected than Kevin Bacon.  If you live here and don’t know June or know someone who knows June, you’re living under a rock.

When she hosted a “girls night in” good-bye party last week, the street was so crammed with cars, I figured her neighbors were happy she was moving soon.  Tons of people filled her house – from Girl Scout leaders to YMCA members to college professors to runners to medical professionals to preschool teachers to preschool parents and every combination of all those labels.  June knows everyone, everyone knows her, and she introduces people to each other.  In fact, the reason I even know who Wendy and Sunita are is that June invited all of us to run with her at one time or another.  Every time someone else walked into the party, I thought “June knows them too? Oh, of course she does.”   In fact, she already has a handful of FB friends in Alaska!

When she “announced” her move to Alaska via Facebook about 1.5 months ago, I immediately texted her:  This is a joke, right?

She assured me it wasn’t – that her husband who works for a federal agency had gotten a promotion.  My response:  Really?  Alaska is a promotion?

Now that I have seen her breathtaking pictures from their trip to find a house – I take that statement back. My apologies to Alaska.  Truly.  (But seriously Alaska – that whole dark all the time in winter is not cool.  Just saying.)

June’s news kinda stunned me.  So much so that my son asked me why I was crying.

“Well, I just found out that June is moving.  And I’m going to miss her.  She was the one who got me into running in the first place.  She’s the one who yells at me when I’m slow, she’s the one who gets people out of bed at dark o’clock on Saturdays for runs, she’s the one who knows about all the races, basically she’s like a personal coach to me.”

My “embedded-in-geek-culture” 9-year-old looked at me seriously and said, “It’s like she’s Yoda and you’re her Luke Skywalker.  But every master has to leave at some point and you have to be your own Jedi.”

So wise, young grasshopper.

I’m not sure I’m much past the padawan stage of running yet.  Some might argue that having run a bunch of 5Ks and three 1/2 marathons kinda speaks against that.  Yet, I’m not fast, I’m not very good at training, and I really need people to yell at me to get out of bed on Saturdays.  Really.

But I can hear June’s voice in my head, “Jenn, you know you can do it.  You want that medal and you can PR. You just need to move it.  Breath. Come on. Move it.”  I even tried to have a running streak (at least one mile a day) thanks to her.  I lasted 12 days.  She lasted over 115 days.  And she created a small Facebook group for us to motivate and keep track of our streaks (otherwise known as the “guilt-ing group”).  Oh and there was the dreaded push-up streak….of which we will never speak again.  🙂

I wish I could calculate the number of miles I’ve run with June.  Or behind her actually.  (I’ve run some races with her – but never side by side.)  Or the number of times June  yelled at me to start moving.  Or texted me at 6 am to get me out of bed.  But what I do know is that how ever many there were, those miles (even the ugly slow ones) have meant a lot to me.  Whether the miles included simple chit-chat, or parenting stories and advice, or debates about races to run, or training tips, running with June was encouraging and up-lifting.  And when I think about it – I’m just jealous of those Alaskan runners who she will probably bring together to create another loosely affiliated running “club”.  They are getting an awesome lady to add to their ranks.

Today’s run was good – we chatted about June, about races, about other running clubs, and even marijuana growers in WA state (don’t ask).  And I know that the women who June has introduced me to will help keep up the miles and the motivation.  But we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to June.  Thanks to FB, no friendships ever really lose contact anymore. And we can’t wait to hear about her miles of adventures in Alaska.

Thank you Junie B…..you’ve made a runner out of me.  MIss you already friend.

 

 

 

 

There they go again….and again….and again….

streakAccording to our high school lore (otherwise known as the best this 42-year old brain can remember), there was only one pep rally in the four years I was in high school.  (Okay maybe I’m wrong – but there’s only one I remember.) I was a freshman, sitting up in the gym bleachers watching cheerleaders and dancers doing some routine.  All of a sudden, the doors to the outside opened up and in ran two (or maybe 3?) guys in underwear (and maybe trenchcoats?). They had what looked to me like giant fire extinguishers from which they sprayed marbles (or gumballs?) all over the gym floor.  I don’t recall any pyramid of cheerleaders tumbling down in slow motion, but I do recall a lot of immediate chaos and rumors later on that the boys (one of whom was my friend’s brother) were sent to jail or Siberia. I don’t remember any more pep rallies.  And thus, I was introduced to the idea of “streaking”.

I grew up in the 70s and 80s – so I do recall a couple of streakers interrupting baseball games. And I’m pretty sure Richard Simmons entering any room is considered streaking. But as an activity, it’s always ranked right up there (along with sky diving) as something I have no interest in.

And yet I’ve started a streak this year. Fully clothed, mind you – although there was much debate as to whether that would invalidate the streak.

My friend June (otherwise known as she-who-runners-should-fear) somehow got it into her head that she and her runner friends need to run (at least) a mile a day this year.  Yup. One mile each day. Or more if you are training or racing or what not. But at least one mile.

We officially started this past Monday. We have a small Facebook group of us who keep checking in each day and keeping everyone accountable. Of course the other ladies post things like “did my four miles and then did 2 cardio classes and saved 4 children today”.  I merely point out that I ran and then I post silly pictures and slogans reminding us all that the mile counts – whether the pace was 6 min or 16 min.

This is a great idea. Of course I say that now – two days before I run 13.1.  June won’t let that count for 13 days of running 1 mile. (We all asked – and begged – and got yelled at.) So we’ll see how that mile on Sunday feels – maybe I’ll circle the parking lot at the finish line while waiting for Steve to finish the marathon.  (I’d hop in and run the last mile with him – but that would take too much effort – and I’d probably get arrested by a Disney cop.)

Meanwhile – it really is a great way to start a new habit. Cause that’s what’s at the heart of New Year’s resolutions – changing habits.

Of course I wrote this instead of doing my mile…..dang it.  I better get out there…. What are you going to do different each day this year?

 

If you don’t write a blog post, is it really happening?

So this first post of the new year is dedicated to my sister, Stacia.  Which makes sense cause when I spoke with her on the phone tonight she said, “Well, you’re not blogging.  I didn’t even know if this race was happening cause you haven’t written anything about it.  How am I sure that we’re running?”  Ah – the layer of guilt that insulates a good sisterly-bond.

She then kept talking in a self-labeled attempt to “give you more material to write about.”  Ah – the support sisters show each other.

Tomorrow, she and Rob fly in for our 2nd annual Disney running weekend.  We three are doing the half again like last year.  But we’ll be joined by my husband, Steve, who is doing the Goofy – running the 1/2 on Saturday and the full on Sunday.  (Yeah, don’t ask, I don’t know why either.  Other than you get three medals and three t-shirts. And yes, it makes my stomach cramp a little and I worry but he just poo-poos it so I keep it to myself.)

Steve’s plan to survive Goofy is to run the 1/2 with me.  Or as he put it when he hatched his plan: “I’ll walk with you.”  Nice.  And Stacia and Rob are just over the flu.  So we’ll all be sticking together to do things nice and easy. Or as Steve has dubbed us: “Team Turtle”.  (All I can say is, he’s lucky he’s cute.)

But even this ectotherm has goals.  As Steve wandered the Orlando outlet stores last year in his post-marathon deluded state, he promised to buy me a Coach purse if I ran again this year and beat my time by 13.1 minutes.  (Get it?)  So I have to pace at 11:51 per mile to win the deal.  Stacia intends for me to win – as evidenced by our conversation tonight:

“So, last year, we started out great – it was your foot injury that slowed us down. So I’m going to start you at an 11:45 pace and we’re going to keep it up. And I have a whole bunch of motivational speeches prepared…”

“You’re writing all these down to remember them?”

“Heck no. I’ll remember them – I’m a genius.”

She is actually very smart. As for genius….hm…

“And how do you feel about Minnie ears? Cause I’m thinking we’re going to run with Minnie ears.”

I love my sister.  She cracks me up – ears and all. She rags on my attire and my worries. And yet she can out worry me any day of the week (yes, you can – so don’t go posting a comment that you don’t!). And she can outrun me any day of the week. But she is the most kindhearted, loving person out there. And if she ever gives up her day job – she can totally be a motivational speaker – or fitness trainer.

So Stacia – here’s the first of a few blog posts about Disney this year.  Cause if I don’t blog about it – it won’t happen.  Let the magic begin!

 

 

Gotta run

This morning I was trying to dry my hair, tame my daughter’s out of control curly locks, fix my son’s bedhead hair, finish washing my face and put on make up, find my shoes and my keys, and get everyone and their Bibles out the door for church.  All in under 6 minutes.  And in the process of mentally cataloging all that needed to be done, I looked down at my poor toenails and their chipped polish.  Sigh.  Well, yet another thing that wasn’t going to get done this morning.

The hectic nature of my morning is not unusual for any mom.  And frankly for any given Sunday morning here at the homestead. But unfortunately I’ve been feeling like this ALL day long every day since August.  Since the kids went back to school and I started teaching three college classes instead of my usual 2.  Every hour has been filled with the stack of stuff I have to do right now AND the stack of stuff I’m trying to keep track of in my head AND all the emails I’ve answered in my head but not on the computer AND which kid has a project due at school AND what we might want to eat for dinner AND if we even want dinner AND whether dinner is actually the right term as opposed to ‘supper’ AND the never ending question of when will I have time to clean out the microwave and mop the kitchen.  It’s been go go go all the time.

Yeah right – having it all. If by all you mean “nervous breakdown”, then yes I am having it all. With a side of chocolate.

Part of all this crazy autumn has meant that my poor blog, which means a lot to me, has gotten the toenail polish treatment. That is Scarlett’s notion that “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”  (Side note: I have never seen more than 20 mins of Gone with the Wind despite having had two roommates who were passionate about it.  All I’ve glean from their knowledge of the movie is two quotes. That one and my other favorite one: “Quitting time!”  My apologies to Scarlett, Cristy and Betsy.)

Thus I’ve punted on the blog (despite starting a 1001 posts in my head while driving to work or grading papers) and in related news my running has been challenging. Not that I haven’t run. I have. Sometimes at 5 am. Sometimes at 10 am. But mostly not as far or as often as I should have. And so I didn’t know what to blog about. Cause you and my other reader don’t come here to read about my complaints, do you?

But I have stumbled forward….praying for the holiday break and for a chance to catch my breath.

And I’ve run. Or hobbled – depends on your definition. And before I knew it – we were driving up to Savannah last week for the Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon. And I was wishing for a giant pause button so I could catch my breath and have another 6 weeks of training.

Despite it all, I finished the race. Yea!  Not very quickly. Boo. A time of 3:02 is not what I had in mind.  But then again I was worried about collapsing before mile 5 – so that’s an improvement.  And in reality I was chugging along on pace to finish in 2:35.  Which was awesome.

Until I hit the wall.  (Upon hearing that, our daughter asked me why anyone would put a wall in the middle of the race.)  Mile 8.  My legs just up and gave up at mile 8. And from there on out it was mostly walking with snippets of running to keep up the pace. Until mile 10 when my iPhone died and I had no clue how fast (slow) I was going. So then I trudged to the end. (Side note – I think Santa’s getting me a Garmin for Christmas.  Or a Nike+ watch.  Either way – there was a silver lining to that!)

But I finished. And I was not the last one across the finish. And had I been running the whole marathon instead – that would have been an AWESOME time.  LOL.

We had a great weekend – especially getting to spent time with my folks.  They were kind and got up at 4:30 to take the shuttle with us and they hung out with the kids while we ran (and I even got to see them at about mile 6.3 – yea!).  So while it was not the running triumph I had hoped for back in the summer. It was fun and that’s what counts.

Soon enough it will be time for the Disney run again. About two months and I’ll be up for another 13.1.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reminded of my first year in grad school. I enjoyed the work load and the new people to meet and focusing on my career. But I missed reading for reading’s sake. I am a huge bookworm. And I found myself trying to settle my heart by telling myself that “come summer break”, I’ll read all I want.  Pretty soon, I realized that you can’t cut out that which is a core part of you. So I read. In between classes and research, I made the time.

Granted – back then I didn’t have two kids and a husband. But I hold onto that important lesson. And I am trying very hard to get back to what is at the core of me nowadays – running. So what if the microwave has layers of crumbs and my toenail polish is chipped? They can wait till tomorrow. I gotta run.  (after I grade three stacks of tests….  🙂

Love and friendship

My feet hurt.  Not in a “I’ve run and run” all weekend.  But in a “I’ve been at an incredible wedding weekend and blast those darn high heels after miles in my Merrells.”

It’s late on Sunday night. Steve and the kids and I are flying home (towards Tropical Storm Debby), exhausted and filled with the lasting joy (and tiredness) of the past few days. I’m nursing sore muscles and reflecting on the past four days of wedding events. One last brunch event this morning closed out the magic of a wedding celebration weekend.

I have known the bride, Andrea, since before she and her twin sister were born. We moved in next door to their parents just 2 months before they were born at the end of a hot summer.  My brother, sister and I range in age from 4 to 9 years older than the twins. But from the beginning, they (and their little sister) have been our little sisters and our families have been dear friends.

We grew up together, spending time running from house to house. We played together, creating games of our own and spending time fighting over the rules of traditional games. Our fathers played tennis together and our mothers shared books, gossip, and parenting tips. Our families often traveled on vacations together and we spent most summers swimming at one house and eating and then moving to the other house to swim and eat again. We taught the girls how to sing in Polish and we tolerated how they licked popcorn and put it back in the bowl.  And we sang songs together – putting on our own Broadway productions in the basement. Two families, two sets of experiences, but often one joy in being together.

It’s been hard sometimes to explain the relationship our families have had over the years. To say we are “family friends” seems inadequate.  To describe them as “family” seems closer to the truth but feels insincere to those who share names and DNA with us. Thus we’ve skipped the labels – it’s simply been that they’ve always just been “The Smiths” and we’ve been “The Jones”. Okay not really our names – but that’s not the point of the story. We know what we mean to each other and we know that our lives have been richer for it all.

I think my children understand it a bit.  After today’s brunch, our son commented that he wished he had a next door neighbor family like I had. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I’d long given up the hope of that for our family. For such a natural and easy friendship is rare and one you can not hope for – you must just relish when it blossoms and help it to flourish when and where you least expect it.

Through the years, we’ve all grown up, gone to college, and my parents moved away to warmer climates. But the bond is still there. Still visit and still vacation together now and again. But time together is shorter and we are older. We share drinks rather than run around the basement singing show tunes from the 80s. Our parents still discuss us “kids” but now with new worries and new concerns for us.  We’ve been in each others’ weddings over the years and the girls have bounced our children on their knees.

Which brings me back to Andrea’s wedding to Michael this weekend.

A four-day Hamptons, NY wedding is not your typical expectation for a wedding. But the “Smiths” are not typical.

We started the weekend with a clambake on the beach – complete with great weather, a campfire for smores, and a launching of hot air filled lanterns to send up well-wishes for the couple. The rehearsal dinner was a wonderful family style dinner (for over 100 people) at which people were welcome to the open mike for toasting and roasting.  My siblings and I made sure to come with speech in hand, ready to share Andrea stories and wish Michael well.

And then the wedding itself. (By which point, my kids and my nephews were wondering how long weddings exactly last for, and “aren’t they married already??”)  But my musings on the weekend and the wedding especially are not about the details, the dresses (gorgeous), the cake (chose the ice cream sundae instead), or even the yummy food (and the need to request special plain chicken nuggets for one picky kid while the other dined on lobster tacos and sweet potato pierogis).

Rather, the ceremony caught me up in lovely moments of….love.

As you listened to the chosen readings and the special vows, one could easily be somewhat wistful at the special relationship these two share.  Yet, for those of us who have been blessed with our own incredible relationships, we quickly turn that into a silent recognition and appreciation of our own unique love stories. We smile quietly at the inside jokes in the vows, then turn to our partners and spouses and wink at our own jokes and memories – those of long years and those more recently.

For me, this overwhelming reflection on love brought about the recognition that our own families started this way – the vows my parents took and Andrea’s parents took years ago were the beginnings of the journeys that we all shared now as families. Great love stories do not end with the joining of two people. Rather those people create a galaxy of people, drawing others into their lives and strengthening them.

I am filled with joy that my family members have found love.  My brother and sister-in-law, my sister and brother-in-law, Steve and I.  In turn, each of our love stories has been unique – but filled with love and friends and our growing galaxies of love.  As I looked around the wedding this weekend, it’s clear that Andrea and Michael have already filled their lives with tons of people who love them.

No, we all will probably never recreate the friendship that our two families nurtured over all these years.  But that’s okay.  We are still special to each other, and in turn that friendship and love has taught us about our own unique relationships that encircle each of us.

On a lighter note – actually a heavier one – I refuse to look at the scale after this weekend blow-out.  I was relatively good but the food was yummy. But now that we’re home, I’m back on the straight and narrow. I did manage to get in one run over the weekend – in the Merrells.  Worked on the mid-foot strike and clearly I was good at it for my calves hurt all weekend.  🙂

Here’s to celebrating love – with much fewer calories in the upcoming days.

Sunrise (to) Sunset

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the miles
One leg following another
Laden with endorphins and tears

– Adapted from Fiddler on the Roof’s Sunrise, Sunset.  Apologies to Sheldon Harnick, lyricist

Some husbands like to go fishing, boating, or even hunting for the weekend.  Some husbands spend their weekends watching sports and then watching even more sports. Some husbands have hobbies that involve power tools, or musical instruments, or even alcohol.

My husband runs.

Hey – I’m not complaining mind you. My fellow runner widows all understand. I have two friends whose husbands have run the Boston Marathon. We’ve commiserated on our husbands’ diets, their training schedules, etc.  Yes, it’s annoying when they only want to eat healthy.  Do they need to run for HOURS on a Saturday?

But when it comes down to it – I’m really proud of Steve and his running. Which is why this post is about one of his races.  Yes this race was back in March – but like fine wines….sometimes time makes everything a bit sweeter…..

Back in January of this year, we were both recovering from our Disney runs.  Me from the half and Steve from the full.  There were days I thought I might never run again (thank you stupid foot injury) and Steve approached it quite differently.  He was quietly considering doing the Goofy in 2013 (which he has since signed up for!).  And then he got asked by someone at work, Joy,  to consider running across Florida.

Now, Florida is not a particularly wide state (if you don’t count the part where I-10 cuts from Jacksonville thru the Panhandle).  But to run across the state – heck any state – seems a bit much.  But the invite was to join a relay team to run the Sunrise 2 Sunset Relay – 180 miles from Ft. Myers to Jensen Beach. And because runners are those rare, odd ducks, he said SURE!  Why not spend two days in a van with other runners, alternating legs across the middle of Florida where there are bugs, rain showers, and alligators?  Cause you know – most of us think these things are slightly….crazy?

Even crazier was that Joy’s goal was to have an ultra team (2-6 members) so that there was EVEN more to run for each runner.  The other option is a full squad of 7 to 12 members.  But heck – why not go all out?  And Joy did meet her goal – she got 4 other crazies (including her daughter) to sign up with her and Steve.  All of them were runners but only one had had previous relay experiences yet they were all strong and motivated! And faster than me!  🙂

Now keep in mind I am not writing about this race from the perspective of a relay runner. I was just the cheerleader, moral support, snack chef, and Twitter update follower – the running widow as it were.

I dropped off Steve on Friday morning at the meeting place – complete with all his gear including flashing light for nighttime, reflective vest, Gatorade, and even some long run cakes I had made for the team. They headed to Ft. Myers for an early afternoon start – and I headed home to get the kids from school and plan our meet up with Daddy on the east coast of Florida.

The team had a plan for who was to run each leg of the race which was some complicated  Excel sheet that I never quite understood.  I think my comment to Steve was along the lines of ‘better you than me’.  But the downside of the race was that from the get-go it was HOT.  Not Florida in March hot but more like Florida in August hot. So things got off to a blistering start for all the teams.

I kept up with Steve by checking any Twitter updates and talking to him on his cellphone. I think all told, he and I talked on the phone more across those two days than we have in 13 years of marriage!  But it was good to keep his spirits up and hear updates of where they were and what was going on.

The plan for Saturday was for me and the kids to go help set up the Easter egg hunt at church and then leave to drive across to Jensen beach to meet the team at the finish. As it turned out – we probably could have stayed for the whole egg hunt as their team (the Roads Scholars) was a smidge later than we anticipated….like by about 6 hours or so.

I should have figured we had more time when I spoke to Steve that morning while still at the church. He was flagging and in his words “really needed to burp”.  Apparently while Steve is an incredible runner, he’s a lousy fueler. Somewhere along the night road, he took up the role of navigator (to the relief of the driver and the rest of the team) but that meant he forgot to eat and keep his intake steady and at a good level.  His gastric woes were overwhelming his focus and his emotions. And his math skills.  When I asked where they were and how far they had to go – his numbers seemed to suggest they had 10 more hours on the road.  Hmmm…. So I talked him for a bit and then passed the word around our church friends there to pray for him (and his tummy).

Despite the idea that the team wouldn’t be near the finish for half a day – the kids and I set out with hope high for improvement across the day. We drove across stretches of road we had never wandered before and saw huge trucks piled high with Florida citrus crops.  We also had a mini adventure in a FL turnpike service plaza that I don’t care to remember. I learned that the gps on my iPhone was MUCH better than my actual car GPS.  Despite the detours and the traffic, we eventually found our way to the finish line in Jensen Beach.

Many teams (especially ones with 12 runners) had already found the finish line too. So the parking lot was filled with white vans sporting inspirational writings on them.  I had forgotten how well our kids can read when our son pointed at a van and asked, “What does ‘suck it up, buttercup’ mean?” They both found the phrase hilarious until I used it on them the following week during some grumbling about homework. Reverse psychology indeed!

The kids spent part of the afternoon in a water splash zone, and I kept an eye on the time and the race course map. I talked to Steve a few times and tried to not mention how many teams had crossed the finish already. When it became clear that they were winded and dealing with a rainstorm on the horizon, the kids and I left to go find some dinner and wander in a few stores.

All the while, Steve’s team chugged on.  I can’t even imagine what it’s like to ride in a van with a team of sweaty runners – many of whom you just met the previous day. It seems that they got along just fine and really supported each other – through the night hours when alligator eyes were glowing at them (seriously) and during the last few legs when the rain was coming down in buckets. The camaraderie of the event is one that I sort of started to think might be fun.  I was watching the other teams finishing and counting up 11 other women I know who might run it with me. I even had team names and slogans for the vans. Keep in mind – I was not actually running while doing this. I was merely entertaining two kids – which should be an Olympic event anyway.  But you often get caught up in the moment and think “Well why not?”  (Of course many of you might be thinking I was a lunatic for even thinking “why not” – and you’re probably right.  Those of you not thinking that – click on the Sunrise2Sunset link above and let’s get a team together for 2013!)

Much to our relief and delight, many many hours after they had started, the team came in sight.  Yes it was dark, and they were smelly. And they were the last team to cross the finish (although NOT the slowest team by far as there were staggered start times).  And most of the beer at the after party was drunk already. But the first glimpse of Steve was wonderful – for me and the kids. Even if he looked pretty worn out, wet from the rain, and just tired.

is this the finish line???

We cheered them all on across the finish line and found them some seats at the after party.  Thankfully many were still partying late into the night!

Been there, run that, got the medal!

A big thank you to Joy for getting him out there and organizing a whole team.  That’s not an easy feat at all. The team took up a challenge that many would never dream of doing and she cheered them all onward. I think they were all pretty pleased with their novice relay experience.

Later that night, I asked Steve if he’d consider doing it again – and his tired reply was along the lines of “ask me in about a month or so.”  I haven’t asked him again….but you know crazy runners…..he might actually say yes.

Check out these pics – see he looks like it’s so much fun!  Here’s the team before they started.

All smiles – cause we haven’t run yet!

They had lots of water breaks due to the heat.

Pit Stop!

See – he loves what he does.

Making it look easy

Sitting in a van going 5 mph means lots of conversations – and naps.

Let’s ignore all the stink in the van, shall we?

And yes it was that dark when they finished!

Whew – we are done!!! Where’s the beer?

Odds and ends

Been a busy week.  First week of no school for the kids.  Except of course I’m the mean mommy who makes them do homework all summer.  When your son who just finished second grade says, “Ummm what’s 6+7?”, you know you need to make him to math drills all summer.  We have to get into a new groove and routine for the summer….but I suppose that will take a few weeks.

Managed a few runs – including a group run today of 3.3 miles. (June lied and said we were only doing 3…she also burst off ahead of all of us turtles.)  At least I wasn’t alone in the back of the pack. And it’s been awhile since we had a group run (i.e. more than 2 people).  While I like being able to run with just me and my tunes, I also enjoy the time to talk, vent, and compare diets.  By the way, we are not talking about my weight loss challenge this week. Suffice it to say that my metabolism is not getting any of the memos I keep sending it.

We’re also working on getting healthier habits into the whole family. I refuse to allow the kids to keep grabbing juice boxes out of the fridge.  So we now each have our own water bottles – kept on the table from which to sip all day long.

Hydration!

Our son really likes the idea – despite a desperate need for a restroom while we were in line at the post office yesterday. Our daughter is coming around – as she does with everything that Mommy and Daddy suggest.  In fact, as I was typing this, she came up and declared “I’m thirsty.”  I pointed at the water bottle and she sighed, “oh I forgot.”  Ah six-year olds.

I’ve been eking out a few miles here and there in my Merrells.  Really really like the feel of the minimalist shoe.  I almost ran the group run in them today – but Steve reminded me I need to work up to longer distances.  But meanwhile I still love Merrells – and the fact that they have read this blog!!!  COOL!

Thank you Merrell!!

And sent me even more presents!  I really can’t say enough good things about this company!  I’ve started the Barefoot Running book.  It’s rather good – although some of the people in it – run barefoot.  Like really barefoot.  Like no shoes at all.  Ugh.  The summer I turned 9, I was running outside barefoot in my front yard.  Until I stepped on a piece of wire and had to go to the ER.  It was a really thick wire.  Hence, I’m rather fond of keeping my soles protected. But I’m encouraged by my, thus far, minimal strides into the minimalist world. And the book is encouraging.

 

You can do it!Speaking of encouragement – I saw this sign at Downtown Disney last weekend. I don’t recall any stories of Walt Disney being a runner. But as a visionary – he definitely knew how to put his efforts full force into something. If only we all could be so determined…….

Now – put down the computer/smartphone/tablet and go RUN!

 

 

Pint sized inspiration

This is the last week of school for our kiddos.  But they still have to do work – which for our daughter includes “bell work” to be done when you get to your seat.  I dropped her off and then took our son to his class and went back to daughter’s class with papers I had copied for the teacher.

Curly-headed daughter came running up to me and said, “Come see my work, Mama. We had to write what we want to be when we grow up.”

There on her sheet was this sentence:  When I grow up I want to be a mommy who runs, just like my mommy.

With that tucked inside my heart, I ran 1 mile in the new Merrells this morning.  10:16 min/mile baby.  My fastest EVER.

Love what family can do for you.

There’s a joke in here somewhere

Couch potato meets road.  See – if even this potato can do it, so can you!

Why did the potato cross the road?

I have no idea why there was a potato in the road but I stopped running to take a picture and encourage it on its journey.  Sadly, when I ran by this corner the next day, all that was left was a flattened splotch of potato skin in the same spot.  Perhaps there’s a lesson in that too – keep moving for goodness sakes!