Oh, hiya!

Are you still there?

Things are good here, but super busy. We’ve had family in town since before Thanksgiving and I had this early-December realization that I had to prepare for Christmas and then my kids had seventy-five million events over the past three weeks and things were very overwhelming and suddenly here it is, mid-December and I’ve neglected you, my wonderful friends from the computer.

So, hello! How are you? I hope you’re enjoying the beginning of winter.

One thing that I’ve been up to is running. I had a couple of really fun races last month. The first was the Across the Bay 10K, where I got to run across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Then I ran another 10K on Thanksgiving, which was fun, but challenging considering those two races, and maybe one or two other runs, were the only times I ran more than four miles at a stretch in the whole month.

Which leads me to my next topic.

I’ve been doing a running streak. For both of the past two years, November and December have been tough for me in keeping up with my running, so I decided to do a Thanksgiving to New Year’s streak, where I run at least one mile every day.

You want to know something? I don’t want to run at least one mile every day. This streak is the worst idea in the whole entire world. I have had a bunch of days already when I’ve had to get on my treadmill at 8:30 at night because I haven’t had a chance to run all day. One day, it was almost ten in the pm by the time I was able to get on the treadmill. It sucked.

That said, I’ve run every single stupid day and I’ll probably do another streak again next year. Because there is nothing to keep me moving like the threat of some imaginary failure.

The fun part of the run streak is that Alex is starting to run, so we’ve been doing it together. It’s a little tougher for him to find time to do it, so we’re not able to run together very often, but it’s been super fun when we do.

Alex is kicking butt at it too. He’s already able to run more than a mile and a quarter without walking and totals a couple of miles each time we go out. I’m super proud of him.

Now, while I am willing to commit to a run streak, I am not confident in my ability to commit to a blogging streak. (Maybe I could get Alex to help me out on that too?) But! I am going to try to write more often. Because I miss this space. And I miss you.

So happy December! I’m looking forward to seeing more of you this month!

Race Report: Bourbon Chasers*

* Bourbon is totally gross, by the way. Also, distilleries smell bad. I think maybe the bourbon part of this race was lost on me.

It is (finally, jeez) time for me to tell you about the Bourbon Chase, the relay I ran earlier this month with 11 other people. If you aren’t into reading the whole race report, I can tell you that we finished all 200 of our miles in 32 hours, 36 minutes, and 43 seconds.

This is a link to a short video of us crossing the finish line. LIKE BOSSES. (You have to sit through a quick ad first.)

And here is a photo of Team MLC after we finished:

Photo of the 12 members of my team posing for a photo after we crossed the finish line. We're all wearing neon green shirts and medals.

This is a really good group of people. I felt really proud to stand with them.

That was the short version. The long version lies ahead.

It’s hard to recap a race like this because the team is divided into two vans that don’t spend a lot of time together, so I will leave out at least half of the story. Not to mention that all twelve members of the team undoubtedly have their own stories that are nothing like mine. But I have my story, so that’s what you’re a-gonna hear.

The story starts after I arrived in Kentucky with several of my teammates and we headed to the grocery store to buy food for the vans, including soda and peanut M&Ms. You know, because we’re all about fueling properly.

Because I’m an athlete with total body awareness, the first thing I did was hurt myself getting out of the van. Aaaand someone caught it on camera.

Me getting out of a big white van. I have very clearly just banged my head on the door during my egress.

How I don’t have at least one broken bone at all times I will never understand.

The relay started in Louisville, where they had a night-before party. Said party took place under a bridge.

Photo of Chester wearing a small race bib and posed in front of a concrete banner reading "Louisville," which is under a bridge.

This was early in the evening. Chester is an early partier. More people showed up later.

I had a whole bit I was going to write about hors d’oeuvres and how it’s rare to be served them under a bridge and stuff, but then it turned out that it was too hard to figure out the pluralization and spelling of hors d’oeuvres, but “appetizers” didn’t sound as funny, so you’ll just have to make do with this photo of Chester eating a cocktail meatball and make your own joke in your head.

Photo of Chester next to a meatball on a stick. The meatball is as big as his head.

You can also make jokes about meatpops if you’d like.

The race started bright and early the next morning at the Jim Beam distillery.

Photo of a big building that says "Jim Beam" on the front and a small inflatable race start line to the left.

Picture me, who has been relatively calm up to this moment, breaking out into a flop sweat.

I was in Van One this year (as opposed to last year’s Van Two experience), so my half of the team was on deck as soon as our first runner stepped over the start line at 8:30. I was runner four in our rotation, so I had a bunch of time to stress out before my run. My friend Heather (Disney Heather) was Runner One, so she had substantially less time.

I was really proud of my whole team, but I was especially proud of Heather and my friend Emily, who was also in Van One. Both of them are relatively new runners (like they’ve been running for less than a year) so taking on something like the Bourbon Chase was really brave of them. The greatest thing about it is that both of them killed all three of their legs. I couldn’t be happier for them.

Still, at 8:30 in the morning, all of that was in the future and we were nervous and excited and peering anxiously at the cloudy sky and happily posing for dorky photos.

Me standing next to a statue of Jim Beam. The statue includes a cup in which Chester is sitting.

Chester hadn’t had enough of a party the night before, so he carried on with Jim Beam.

No amount of pacing and wondering if you could just make a break for it and skip out on the race entirely will stop time though, so eventually 8:30 rolled around and Heather headed out for our team.

Photo of runners heading out at the start line. Heather is in a neon green/yellow shirt in front.

Heather (in front in the yellow) earned a four-step head start for answering a trivia question correctly. Way to shave that second off our 32-hour finish time, Heather!

Happily, once the race starts, the nerves go away and the motion of being a support crew and a runner takes over. We didn’t have a designated driver this year (we missed you, Mike!), so several of us took turns driving the van.

Facebook post featuring a photo of me behind the steering wheel of the van. The post says, "This is the scariest part of the race for me—driving the team van. #didn'twreckit"

From Stimeyland’s Facebook page. And, no, I didn’t wreck it, but I wasn’t exactly invited back behind the wheel after my first turn. I wasn’t very good at driving it. I was better as a navigator. And I’m not even all that great as a navigator.

I started my first leg at about 11 o’clock that morning. This leg was only 5.2 miles long, but it had the distinction of being ranked as the hardest leg of all 36 of the legs. This was mitigated by my having less hard legs later. That leg may have been tough, but I absolutely did not have the hardest trio of legs. Not by a long shot.

(Leg.)

Still, that leg kinda sucked. It was ranked so high in difficulty because of all the hills, including a super steep, half-mile long hill at the very end. I think the next two photos say a lot more about this leg than any of my words could.

Photo of me heading off on my run with a big smile on my face. Emily, who has just passed the wrist baton to me looks happy to be done.

Emily has just passed me the baton and I am off on an adventure! Look how happy I am to be running!

5.2 miles later…

I am walking as the next runner takes the baton and heads off on her leg. I look like I could drop dead AT ANY SECOND.

There were more flattering photos taken of me and Marisa at this transition, but this one best captures how I could probably DROP DEAD AT ANY SECOND.

Also, I just noticed that it looks like Marisa and I are shoe twins. That’s exciting!

One of the really fun parts of running these relay races—and I am being completely sarcastic here—is figuring out when, where, and how to change clothes while sharing a van with five other people. I chose to change my clothes in the van at the next transition point when we were waiting for Marisa to run in. Everyone else was out of the van, so naturally I had all kinds of privacy.

Except. This is what they were doing while I was changing.

Photo taken from the inside of the van of one of the team members writing in window marker on the window.

I know! I’ll wait until the whole team is decorating the windows of the van surrounding me before I take my clothes off!

Someday I’ll get the hang of being with other humans.

I feel like Van One’s first legs went really quickly and smoothly. And after watching the weather reports of looming storms that threatened all day, we were super relieved to get through our first runs without rain. Being in Van One instead of Van Two was kind of awesome. We showed up at our vehicle transition area to meet up with Van Two, who had been eating and pacing and touring distilleries for hours by this time.

We were happy to put all of that to an end though by passing them the baton and watching them run off into the afternoon.

Of course, the first thing we did was eat, making sure to post a photo of us sitting and stuffing our faces to pay back Van Two who had done something similar that morning when we were running and they were eating. Also, one of the people at the table ate an entire pizza. It was IMPRESSIVE.

From there, we drove to the place where we were due to meet up with Van Two later that night and we spent several hours futzing about until Runner Twelve showed up, wet from light rain and wearing a headlamp to combat the darkness, passing the metaphorical torch back to Van One.

Screenshot of a Facebook status. The photo is Chester shoved into a van cup holder with cords and keys draped over him. The caption says, "Chester is being treated poorly."

Some of said futzing around.

Our next legs would all be run in the dark. Last year during our relay, I was the only runner who didn’t run in the dark. My place in the running roster, the pace of the runners who preceded me, and the rotation of the Earth at that time of year in New Hampshire had created a situation where I ran seven miles just after sunrise. It was delightful.

Not so this year.

Another Facebook screenshot: In the photo, it is nearly dark. I am making a sour face. The caption reads, "ABout to head out to Run Two: 5.5. miles along Knob Lick Road. Yes. Knob Lick Road. I'd rather be sleeping."

I texted Alex the name of the road and he texted back “Knob. Lick. Road. Penis.” Upon completion of my leg when I saw his text, I showed everyone in the van and couldn’t stop laughing. In retrospect, maybe it was less funny and/or appropriate than I thought it was.

It had been raining on and off for much of the afternoon, but once it got dark, it rained like a motherfucker. No other way to put it. It stopped raining for a few minutes when I was handed the baton and set off onto the Knob Lick.

The weather though, it did not hold.

I was excited about the novelty of the night run—as well as a little nervous—but I could have done without the uber-novelty of a night run that felt suspiciously like I was running through a shower.

Soon enough, I was slogging through pouring rain. It was very dark on my leg so my entire range of vision consisted of the small area that was lit up by my headlamp. The headlamp did an excellent job, however, of illuminating the diagonal streaks of rain that were driving across my vision.

It was a tough run. I started running steeply uphill before the end of the first mile and stayed running up through mile two. The weird thing is that when it is that dark, there is no way to tell where the hill ends or when there is a slight reprieve in the slope. It all just feels kind of hard and upsetting and all you can do is watch lights of cars or runners ahead of you to see if they look like they’re going uphill or whether they drop out of sight down a slope.

It was brutal. I spent a lot of time wondering if I’d ever been wetter while wearing clothes (highly unlikely); whether I’d run a mile, two miles, halfway yet (no, I hadn’t); why this run sucked so much (ugh, tiiiiiiiired). I didn’t run spectacularly fast on any of my runs, but I actually ran slower than I expected on this one. It just sucked all the life out of me. I was extremely happy to see the transition point.

It felt good to put on dry clothes and sit happily in the van eating those peanut M&Ms and Diet Coke while the next runner set off.

I barely remember the transition where we traded off to the next van. The thing that stands out from that transition was the extremely long walk back to our van during which I stepped in a deep puddle, getting my cushy sport slides wet. I had a sad.

I had a happy though upon hearing that we were headed to some unknown high school to sleep in a gymnasium. We pulled into the parking lot, I grabbed my sleeping bag, and I stumbled off into the gym. As I set my alarm and shoved it deep into my sleeping bag to muffle it, it occurred to me that if overslept, my teammates would never find me inside a sleeping bag in that huge, dark, silent room.

“Wake up at 4 am, wake up at 4 am, wake up at 4 am,” I told my brain repeatedly before I closed my eyes.

I woke up at 4 am, thank God, and I felt GREAT.

Facebook status screenshot: (no photo) "$5 for two hours sleep on that bare gymnasium floor is the best bargain I have ever come across."

Today if you asked me if I’d be willing to sleep for only two hours on a wood floor, I would laugh you out of the room. That night, it was the most luxurious thing I could ever have imagined.

That was short-lived, however, as we rushed off to meet Van Two at the Wild Turkey distillery. If you’re ever in Kentucky and looking for said Wild Turkey distillery, just follow the stink. Because that distillery is at the center of it. Dude. the distilling process smells horrible.

I had made peanut butter and jam sandwiches for our van and was busy digesting that and trying to drink Gatorade as I walked to the visitor center bathrooms with Heather, who was next up to run, and Marc. It was cold, it was smelly, my stomach was unsettled, it was still dark, and all of a sudden I had a life-changing experience.

Facebook status: Photo of a huge bonfire with caption "My trip to the bathroom got waylaid by something waaaaaay better."

Seriously. Life. Fucking. Changing.

Ten minutes by that fire and I was warm to my bones, I smelled only nice burning wood, and Wild Turkey was suddenly my favorite bourbon ever. We sent Heather on her way and headed onward.

The last twelve transition points are really fun because runners are really happy to be done. It’s super delightful.

Except when it’s not. There were a lot of really tough stretches for the people in my van on that last leg. Distances were long, there were lots of hills, and there were evidently some demon horses on the course. (Heather came around a corner in the dark only to have her headlamp illuminate the eyes of a big horse whose head was draped over a fence right next to the road. It was, apparently, both surprising and terrifying.)

I watched each of my teammates set off and finish and it was so exciting. It is amazing to see people who have worked so hard and struggled through injuries or pushed way past their comfort levels to complete something so difficult and wonderful. I was (and am) so proud of each of them—both those in my van and Van Two.

My third leg was motherfucking delightful. It was less than four miles long and even though there were a couple of uphill stretches, none of them were extreme and also, the leg ended with, like, two miles of gentle downhill. I felt like I was flying.

Except, that is, when the runner from the team that started eleven hours after we did blew past me like I was standing still. That’s when I felt like I was trudging along like a hedgehog on sleeping pills.

Before that happened though, I was chugging along up and down some small rolling hills, Michael Franti singing “I’m alive…” on the speaker I had on my waist and I felt so purely good and I remembered exactly why I run. For those moments. For that feeling. For that good.

I didn’t run particularly stellar times this year. Last year during the relay, one of my victories was running so much faster than I’d hoped to. This year it was about loving my team and recognizing how much stronger my body was than last year. It was about knowing that an extra three minutes on a leg or a slow slog up a particularly hard hill isn’t that big of a deal in a world where I am willing to spend 32 and a half hours in a van with people who cover 200 miles on foot.

Being a runner, for me, isn’t about being the fastest or the first. It is about finding that feeling. I don’t always find it, but when I do, it is magic.

There are always hills and valleys though. The non-magical time of trying to comb a day and a half worth of knots out of my hair followed immediately after my magic run. It was ugly. It turns out that the braid was not the miraculous “keep hair neat” tool that I thought it would be. Still I emerged victorious. Eventually.

From there, all I had to do was cheer on our runners until we passed the baton to Van Two for the final time. And from there, all we had to do was go to lunch. Chester joined us in his own way.

Three photos of Chester. The first he is sitting next to a bucket of peanuts, the next he is holding a peanut sitting next to the bucket of peanuts, the last, he is sitting IN the peanuts.Last year, as a member of Van Two, we ran all the way to the end. This year, we drove to the finish line and napped in the van until it was time to shuffle over to meet the rest of our team. It was awesome.

Even more awesome was watching our last runner race down the road to where we all joined her in running and/or limp-running the last few meters. It was really cool to be able to cross the actual finish line with everybody.

Photo of Chester with a big medal around his neck. The medal shows two people dancing on a disco floor. The medal reads "Bourbon Chase Fever."

Did I mention that this year’s Bourbon Chase had a disco theme? Because if you don’t know that, this medal doesn’t make sense.

The finish line party featured bourbon and beer and lots of food and juuuuuust a little bit of rain and it was perfection.

Facebook status: Photo of Chester sitting behind a plate with a beef pulled beef sandwich, two cookies, eans, and coleslaw. He sits next to a beer. The caption says "Kentucky, motherfuckers."

We ate a lot of food and I couldn’t even finish my whole beer, like a loser.

And then I started to feel like I’d fall asleep if I sat down, so I was part of the group that championed a return to a hotel, but not before I texted this victorious photo to Alex.

Photo of me holding my medal, which is around my neck.

Tired, but proud and happy.

And that is 8.3% of Team MLC’s story of the Bourbon Chase 2014.

I’m so grateful to have been able to be on a team with these awesome people. Thanks for being so wonderful—all of you!

Two photos, one on top of the other. The top photo says "before" and shows all 12 of our team standing in front of our van smiling. It is before the race. The bottom one reads "...and after" and shows us wearing our medals after crossing the finish line.

Team MLC rocks!

Bourbon Chase or Bust

Graphic that reads "Team MLC will run for bourbon." The graphic is an outline of Kentucky, a stylized runner, and a jug of alcohol.Today I ran my last training run before my relay race, the Bourbon Chase, which starts Friday morning.

My team of twelve and I will run 200 miles through Kentucky. Yes, we will run past distilleries. No, we’re not allowed to drink on the race.

I’m pretty excited for this relay, which is a big change from last year’s race when I was panic-stricken during the days leading up to the start. Naturally, this means that it will pour rain or something the whole time and I’ll be miserable.

(pleasenorainpleasenorainpleasenorainpleasenorainpleasenorainpleasenorain)

I’m hoping it is fantastic, rain or no rain. Either way, it will be an adventure. We have such a great team that I can’t imagine it won’t be awesome. (Famous last words.)

My team has a Facebook group that you are welcome to join to keep track of our progress if you’d like. You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/296287543915022/ We’ll be using this to communicate between our two team vans, so you should be able to see how we’re doing there. I’ll also be sharing updates on Stimeyland’s Facebook page. And probably my own Facebook page.

Huh. So many Facebook outlets.

(I probably won’t be updating Ello though because I don’t understand how to use it.)

I leave on Thursday morning. Wish us luck!

If you are interested in reliving the joy of last year’s relay, here are the links:

#racemadness (Includes your guesses in the comments as to what MLC stands for.)

33:36:26

Reach the Beach 2013 Race Report: Victory in New Hampshire!

Captain Clumsy and the 21K Race

I ran my very first half marathon last Sunday. And you know what?

I killed it.

Like, not just, “Oh, I ran a half marathon and I’m proud of myself,” but “I fucking killed that race to the best of my motherfucking abilities.”

You guys, I was so scared for that race. I never thought it would go as well as it did. I finished in 2:35:11, which is really a million years for many half marathoners, but for me? It was a motherfucking VICTORY.

Selfie of me taken in front of the finish line. There is a big green banner behind me reading "FINISH"Some details (which could take you as long to read as it took me to run the damn race):

The distance: I do a lot of math calculations when I run. I divide time by distance to figure out my pace, I add and subtract to determine how many miles I’ve run and how many I have to go, and sometimes I figure out what the distance I’m running is in kilometers. It keeps my mind busy and passes the time and miles. Or kilometers, whichever you prefer.

It was about mile five in last Sunday’s race that I figured out that a half marathon is about 21K. I instantly forgot the answer, but I assure you that I did have it at one time. Also, Google can do the calculation in, like, a millionth of a second.

The Fear: Prior to running this race, I was scared to death. In fact, it had taken great courage and probably five or six trips to the registration page to even sign up for the thing in the first place.

Thirteen miles seems like a lot of miles when you’re on the starting end of them.

That Fear continued through pre-race eavesdropping on thin people in running tights (“I’ve only run four times this week,” “I’m using this as a training run for my marathon training”) right up until the first couple of waves of runners had set off and I realized that if I didn’t hit the porta potties, the next thirteen miles would become increasingly uncomfortable. Fortunately, after the race has started, there are no lines for the bathrooms and I was able to pee and get back in the corral before my wave (the last one) was released.

Once I started running, the Fear dissipated. That is the great thing about racing. Once you’re in it, you’re in it and even though I was well aware of how brave I’d been to register and force myself to show up that morning, after the start line the Fear goes away. I spent the next .74 miles without any fear at all.

The Captain Clumsy part: So, I ran 13.1 miles all in a row, but I did it in probably the ugliest way possible. I was three-quarters of a mile in when I fell flat on my face, toes to nose on the asphalt. Seriously, people, it was like I was diving for first base.

Frankly, considering how packed in all the runners were at the time, it is a MIRACLE that I didn’t take down a bunch of other people with me. As you know though, I jumped right back up. Then I spent the next half mile trying not to visibly cry because, Christ. Really?

You may be thinking, “Oh, well, at least she got that out of the way early on so she could get down to business and run the rest of the race without being a complete buffoon.”

How wrong you would be.

Fast forward to mile 12.6. I trip on a rock and do another nosedive to the ground, this one coupled with a slight roll to the side. I popped up, assured the two nearby runners that I was fine and had, in fact, already fallen once in the race and set off running again.

Then I realized that even though I felt fine, every time I inhaled, I made an involuntary gasping sound. I kept running, going over possible reasons for this weirdness. This is what I came up with: (1) I was in some sort of shock and was panicking, (2) I had somehow inhaled a chunk of gravel and it was busy killing me, or (3) the wind had been knocked out of me.

I stopped to walk and concentrated on taking slow breaths. A few seconds later the gasping stopped and I continued on my way.

It is quite obviously awesome to be me.

The injuries: Fortunately, other than some bruising, abrasions, and a big chunk of skin that ripped off of the palm of my hand, I escaped from my falls unscathed. This is fortunate, because I was already facing down enough aches and pains—a trifecta of injuries, if you will.

The hip injury: Remember my hip injury from last year? Well, it’s on the other side now. I’m steadfastly ignoring it.

The wonky knee: This isn’t actually a running injury. I have a wonky knee. It’s been wonky for a long time and it actually feels better when I run than when I don’t. A couple of weeks ago, I sat on a couch with my knee tucked under me the wrong way and ever since it has hurt to do such strenuous things as walk up or down stairs. Fortunately, (1) there are no stairs in (most) half marathons and (2) “resting” by not running and going to Disney World instead seemed to have let it get a lot better. I am encouraged that ice and rest obviously helped so much.

It isn’t completely healed though, as I discovered when I could feel it slowing me down on some of the uphills. Not a lot, but there’s definitely something going on there.

The peroneal tendonitis: This is what my doctor called it. He said it was painful, but not harmful, which pleases me because I don’t care if it hurts (see: hip); I just don’t want my ankle to blow out. I went on a five-mile run last week and it fucking hurt. Like, I’m tough, but damn. I was worried that bad things were going to happen to it on Sunday.

I made sure to stretch and loosen it before the race and I KT taped it as well. I was not just happy, but astonished that it didn’t hurt even a little bit during the whole 13 miles. Honestly, it was a little weird. But I’ll take it.

The pace: I’m still not a super fast runner, but I’m getting faster. I even ran a 5K this summer at a 10:30 minute pace, but there is a big difference between 3 miles and 13. My speed tends to drop off dramatically after a few miles. That is why I was so surprised to finish with an average 11:51 minute/mile pace.

Honestly, I was hoping to finish this race just ahead of the official 12:26 minute/mile cutoff pace. I just didn’t want to be swept off the course because I wasn’t running fast enough. Never would I have imagined running an 11:51 pace. The best average pace I’d allowed myself to hope for in this half marathon was maaaybe12:20.

I remember passing 10 miles well under two hours and marveling that I’d covered that distance nearly 15 minutes faster than when I ran my ten-miler in early March.

I have no idea how that happened.

Actually, I do. It probably has a lot to do with the hundreds of miles I’ve run this year. That’s probably how it happened. But still. It was surprising.

The mood: Somewhere around mile four, my stomach started to hurt. I was really bummed out because no other part of me was sad. My feet didn’t hurt, my legs weren’t tired, and my mind wasn’t fatigued. Happily, the stomach pangs went away after about a mile and I spent the rest of the run feeling pretty damn good.

I’m not sure what helped me run these thirteen miles in what felt like the most effortless long run I’ve had in a long time. I think it helped that the course is familiar as well as pretty flat/downhill, but I was prepared to be in pain and I never really got there. I somehow managed to fuel exactly right with the Gatorade and water stations set up every two miles and a few energy chews I’d stuffed in my waist pack. I didn’t spend the majority of the race thinking about how far I still had to run, something that often happens.

Everything came together perfectly.

I’m not saying this race was easy. It was a lot of running and there were points when I wanted to stop and walk (but didn’t!), but I was really proud of the way I managed it. Maybe someone can tell me why I could do this race, but it is so goddamn hard to run three continuous miles on a treadmill.

The cheerleaders: One of my lower points came at around mile nine. I was tired and the distance I still had to cover was just long enough to be a little bit demoralizing. The thing that kept me going was knowing that my family was coming to cheer me on just before mile ten. My family rarely makes it out to races, so having them on the course was a big deal.

“I can run to my family,” I told myself. “I can run to my family. I can run to my family.”

I knew where they were going to be standing and once I was close enough, I strained my eyes looking for them. I was so happy to see my babies jumping up and down with hands out for high fives. “HI, BABIES!” I called, slapping hands and smiling so big. I felt really special having a cheering squad out there. I don’t think they have any idea how far their presence carried me.

Standing just past my kiddos was Alex. And he had chosen to wear the shirt I had bought for him at Disney World. This shirt:

Photo of Alex wearing a blue shirt with the words "i am unstoppable" on it. The graphic is of a red t-rex with short front arms holding one of those dinosaur headed picker-upper thingies. Alex also has his arms in a t-rex pose and has a very funny look on his face.

How super cute is Alex?

I had my mantra for the next three miles.

I am unstoppable. I am unstoppable. I am unstoppable.

And I was.

The finish: At some point I realized that I was on track to finish in under two hours and thirty-six minutes, which was, like, a super stretch goal. The desire to beat that time kept me going through that last terrible mile. Ugh. That last mile. It sucked. I think that is the nature of last miles, but let’s be honest here, mine was particularly gruesome what with my unplanned trip to the gravel less than a half mile from the finish.

It was all worth it when I crossed that finish line though. I feel really proud of myself. Since starting to run again a couple of years ago, I’ve done a lot of things that I’m proud of, but this one felt really good. It feels like a real accomplishment. I feel brave and strong and proud. It feels great.

I also earned a beer glass that unfortunately came without beer, a situation I was able to rectify.

Photo of a beer glass that read "Parks Half Marathon Finisher" on it. There is a circle of autumn colored leaves around a wolf standing next to a tree. Only the bottom quarter of the glass still has beer because I done drunk it all.The conclusion: Guess what guys? Turns out I’m unstoppable. And a little bit of a dunce. But mostly the unstoppable thing.

Electric Fun

I regularly ask my kids if they want to go running with me. They very rarely do.

See, I remember how much I hated running when I was a kid and how I never really participated in sports until I started running in my late 20s—and then took a decade-long break from even that after Jack was born. I would love to get my kids past the hating running stage into the tolerating or even loving running stages well before that.

Every once in a while I can get someone to run along with me, motivated by the challenge of being able to run soooo much faster than I can. I’ve been working on Sam lately, with little success, but when Certifikid offered me a couple free tickets to last weekend’s Electric Run (think glow sticks, illuminated course decorations, and lots of peppy music on a night course), I thought that I might just be able to convince him to take on three point one miles with me.

He totally fell for it.

Photo of Sam and I. We are both wearing glow sticks in the shape of glasses and Sam has a glowing green bracelet.

I chose Sam for this run because I decided that he was the kid most likely to (a) be able to finish the race and (b) not disappear into the darkness of the crowd.

I love to run races, although I prefer to run straight-up timed events rather than the more gimmicky 5Ks that you see all over these days. When Certifikid (a fantastic deals site with family-friendly offers) offered me those tickets though, I flashed back to the Color Run I did where I’d wished that I had one of my kids with me to make the experience more fun.

See, these races aren’t timed and aren’t about getting a PR. They’re about going out with your family or friends and having a good time while getting some exercise in. I’ve done a few of them and even though my love is a regular, timed race, every once in a while it is fun to join in on a silly, themed race.

Especially, I found out last weekend, if you’re running with your kid.

Quick disclosure aside, followed by promotional stuff: Certifikid gave Sam and me free entry into the Electric Run. If you’re looking to do a fun, easy race with your kids (or even without!), check out Certifikid. They have a bunch of race deals coming up (the Graffiti Run, the Rock N’ Stroller, and the Blood and Guts Run, all in October) and they add deals on races all the time. If those three don’t sound like the run for you, check back later because chances are they’ll have a deal on one that is more your speed. Sign up to get their emails for your city or keep checking their site and you can get a great deal on a fun run.

So, the race. You know when you have a 12-almost-13-year-old and they’re the most fun in the world except when they flip a switch and become cranky tween/teens and you never know which one of those kids is going to show up? Well. It turns out that Racing Sam is Super Delightful Sam.

Blurry photo of Sam bathed in green light. He has a silly look on his face.

This is his patient and blurry “I’m putting up with my mom face.”

We had so much fun. We got to the race site and picked up our packets, then festooned ourselves with various glowy things and headed off to the start line where I embarrassed Sam by taking lots of photos of MY BABY AT HIS FIRST RACE!

Sam next to an inflated blue tube that says "start."

It is hard to take decent photos in the dark.

The thing is, I don’t even think I embarrassed him that much because everyone else was just as goofy as we were. There was so much fun to look at and we didn’t even have to wait too long because for once in my life, I timed our arrival almost exactly right.

When it was our turn to go, it took us a while to break out of the crowd enough to actually run, but when we did, Sam delighted in sprinting ahead of me, then walking until I caught up, then sprinting ahead of me again, shouting back, “THAT is how fast you run?”

Don’t worry. Revenge was mine in terms of stamina. I can outrun the kid. It just takes me a while.

Eventually Sam sort of tired out and it occurred to me that it was kind of mean to drag the kid to a race without having him train at all. (Although he ran longer than he ever has before. Go, Sam!) Regardless, it was still fun because there was a lot to look at and enjoy as we strolled the rest of the course. Plus—bonus!—if your kid has nowhere to go because he has to walk a mile and a half with you, he’s going to have to talk to you.

So awesome.

Plus…giant gummy bears.

Silhouette of Sam in front of a giant, green inflated gummy bear.

I kind of want one of these for my back yard.

Sam was a champ. He ran or walked the whole course and when we got to the finish line, he pointed to my right, yelled, “Look! A cat!” and when I looked, he sprinted off to cross the finish line first. Jerk. :)

During the run, he was a little jealous of people who had these big foam glow sticks, so I was going to buy him one for being such a good sport about the whole thing. But then—and here is where you see that cheapness is apparently more important to me than hygiene—I looked into a trash can as we walked by and saw two glowing sticks just sitting there on top.

Score.

Sam holding two foam glow sticks.

I was even honest with Sam about where I got them and he was okay with it. Dumpster diving can be a family activity too.

Gimmick or not, race as cash cow or not, Sam and I had a blast and I am so happy we did this together. I totally recommend you do one of these races with your kids. They definitely can be pricey, so finding a deal (Certifikid, anyone?) is a great idea. There are any number of themed races to choose from, depending on what you and your kids are into and like.

I’m just happy that Sam and I got to be together to engage in a non-stressful, totally fun athletic activity—one that I think he will definitely remember. I am so very proud of him for sticking out the whole 3.1 miles (and the endless walks to and from the car) and I’m so glad for the time I got to spend with him.

Selfie of Sam and I.

 

Dipshit Friday: The Key Edition

Back in the day, there used to be a feature here on Stimeyland known as Dipshit Friday. I think it might be time to bring it back. In keeping with the theme, as long as this is posted at least 15 seconds before Friday ends, it still counts as Friday. You know, if you’re a dipshit.

Yellow square with the black silhouette of my pontificating gerbil wearing a big red dunce cap. Next to the gerbil in red letters, are the words "Dipshit Friday."I locked myself out of my house earlier this week.

I had all day free while my kids were in school, so I decided to go on a long run in training for my half marathon that is coming up next month. I walked out of my house wearing my Camelbak water backpack, locked the door, and put the key in a pocket of the Camelbak that I wasn’t planning on opening until I returned home.

Then I ran. And did some walking. And then ran some more. And then walked. And ran. And then wandered around a park for ten minutes, looking for a water fountain to refill my Camelbak, then ran some more and then finally stopped running and limped home. It was a rough run for me.

As I walked up my driveway, I took off my Camelbak and started rooting around for my key. I smelled so bad that even I was offended and all I could think about was drinking some cold water and showering.

That was when I discovered that my key was gone. I knew that it had to be in the Camelbak pocket. There was nowhere else it could be. I mean, I’d locked the door with it. I’d put it in the pocket. I’d returned and unzipped the pocket. Where was it?

I looked everywhere in the Camelbak. I doublechecked my work. I looked around on the ground in front of my door in case I’d just dropped it instead of putting it in the pocket. It was nowhere to be found.

The only thing I could figure out was that I’d accidentally put it in the wrong pocket and it had fallen out during my run when I was grabbing an energy chew or when I got that phone call and was afraid it was Quinn’s school and I panicked trying to get my phone out of the pocket. Or, I thought, maybe it was at mile eight when I got all tangled up in the Camelbak straps and my headphones cord and had to stop to figure out how not to strangle myself to death.

I’m extremely good at doing more than one thing at a time.

Anyway, I knew Jack would be home in a little over an hour and he has a key to the house just in case his bus ever drops him off when I’m not home. I sat down on the steps and called Alex to tell him what had happened somewhere over the course of the last 12ish miles.

“Are you going to retrace your steps to find it?” he asked.

He was extremely helpful. Jackass.

I went to the backyard to sit in our hammock. Our trusty hammock has been with us through thick and thin for two years. I knew it would provide me comfort until Jack arrived.

I sat on the hammock—and promptly fell to the ground as it disintegrated under me after having been outside in good and bad weather for two years.

Goddammit.

I sat there for a while…on the ground…partly held up by the broken hammock…because, you know…TIRED. I eventually moved to a chair on my back porch where I could watch my cat watch me.

Photo taken through glass of my cat staring at me.

WHY DON’T YOU STOP STARING AND HELP ME, CAT?

Eventually she got bored and fell asleep and I was all, SCREW YOU CAT.

After that, I headed back around to the front of the house and sat by the driveway to wait for Jack. When he arrived, he was absolutely delighted to be a hero and let me in.

Photo of Jack using his key to unlock the door.

Jack is NOT the dipshit in this story.

We went inside. I showered. Jack basked in being awesome. When it was time to get Quinn from the bus stop, I headed outside and ran into Sam in the driveway as he arrived home. We stopped and chatted for a minute and during the conversation, I looked at the ground.

Where I saw…

Photo of a silver key on my asphalt driveway.

Of course.

I must have sat right next to that key for like twenty minutes as I was waiting for Jack’s bus to arrive.

And that’s how you do Dipshit Friday.

Running Strong

Now that things have settled down a little bit for me, I have been doing a lot of running. My team relay race is coming up in mid-October and I was also dumb enough to sign up for my first half marathon in mid-September, so there is definitely a reason why all the running is necessary—I mean, beyond the obvious mental and physical health reasons.

I’m happy to report that even though I did very little running in May and June, things are going really well for me and my feet. I mean, I do have semi-debilitating pain in a hip, a knee, and a peroneal tendon of the ankle. However, I’m kind of choosing to ignore much of that in a partly educated guess that it’ll all work out fine.

Because that’s what happens, right? Things work out fine.

Some running news from my life:

*****

I ordered a running visor online a few weeks ago, because I was way too lazy to track one down at a store. This probably bodes poorly for my ability to actually, you know, run, but let’s not look at that too closely.

Anywho, I got the shipping confirmation and it was all, “Please be aware that if it rains, your shipment may be delayed,” which made me wonder, how is this visor being shipped—by Pony Express?

******

My new house resides at the veeeeery top of a hill. Like in all directions. It is literally at the highest point in all directions. I’m pretty excited about this in terms of floods, but less excited in terms of running. I mean, it’s great when I’m leaving the house, but every single run ends with a half- to one-mile run up a fairly steep hill.

Sure, it’s probably good for me in terms of hill training and all, but it is terribly irksome when I am tired.

******

As I mentioned up there at the top of this post, I signed up for my first half marathon.

I am scared to fucking death.

I visited the registration page probably 8 or 9 times before I actually registered. Thirteen miles seems like a lot of miles. Plus, there is a time limit on this half marathon, which is extremely close to my running pace. They asked for my expected finish time down to the second, so I put 2 hours, 40 minutes, and 32 seconds, just to be a jerk.

Of course, that estimate is absurd. I plan to finish in 2 hours, 40 minutes, and 18 seconds.

Yes, I am aware that this time estimate is FOREVER in terms of a half marathon. I don’t care. I plan to be very proud of me when I finish.

******

I have been aware for a while now that if you want to run longer distances, mid-run fueling is important. I have also been aware that I could never consume anything that has a name pronounced “goo.”

I have a friend who suggested sport jelly beans. Nope, I couldn’t handle their taste and texture. I came up with the idea that I could eat Snickers bites on the run. Nope, I ate them all before I went running. For my ten-miler, I took Jolly Ranchers with me for at least a sugar boost. I’m not sure they helped, plus I think they were probably a choking hazard.

Happily, I have discovered Clif Shot Bloks, which are not terrible. Plus, you can get a flavor that comes with caffeine! I couldn’t be happier.

*******

I did a ten and a half mile run today, which was awesome. My feet and legs hurt at the end, but I could have kept running, so I feel good about that. I could not, however, have kept running up the hill leading to my house. I walked that motherfucker with a stop midway to stretch.

I tell you about this run not only to be all, “I did a ten and half mile run today,” but also because it started out really hard. I was scheduled for said ten-miler today, but was only three and a half in when my ankle started to hurt and I was tired and I almost stopped and turned around.

In fact, I did stop. Twice. I thought, “Today might not be the day.” But I’m reading a book by an ultramarathoner and I was all, I bet he never stops a run at mile 3.5. So I kept moving. I stopped my Garmin and I walked for about a quarter of a mile and then I started to run again.

So I restarted my Garmin and ran seven more miles. I didn’t even walk the uphills. (Until the end, naturally.) In fact, my originally planned route turned out to be not quite long enough for my planned ten, so I added a whole long section to extend the run.

Yay, me. I rock. I spent a couple of hours in pretty extreme pain after I returned home, but eventually much of the soreness dissipated and now I can totally stand up without crying.

******

I ran my last longer-than-10k race (a 10-miler) in March. I have been worried that because I didn’t run for a couple of months that I have lost too much fitness and that a half marathon would be too much for me. But based on my recent runs, I can tell how much stronger I am now than I was then.

That feels great. Like really, really great.

I have a healthy layer of chub on my body, but you know what is under that soft, bouncy surface? Rockin’ muscles.

Sure, I’d rather those muscles were on the outside. I’m still not happy with my body shape. That said, I am very happy with my body. It is pretty awesome and can do a lot.

Hells yeah. Bring on 13 miles.