Victory. Is Mine.

There is something to be said for walking into a race with extremely low expectations.

Usually when I go to a race I am hoping to meet or beat a time goal. For the 15K I ran last weekend, my out-loud goal was to somehow ambulate through the entire course. My in-my-head goal was to actually run it—at whatever speed I could.

Per usual, I walked through water stops. Because of this:

Panel from The Oatmeal web comic showing a runner choking on water at a race aid station. The text reads "Do not stop running when getting a drink at an aid station. By enduring the "sprint-choke," you could shave three, possibly four seconds off your 5+ hour finish time! Remember: marathon success does not come from training or perseverance, it comes from waterboarding yourself at aid stations."

Please go buy the book this comes from immediately. You won’t be sorry.

But other than that, I ran the whole damn thing. All 9.3 miles of it. I really wasn’t sure I could do it based on my total lack of training—or any running at all—over the past month and a half. I was hopeful, but skeptical, especially considering the sharp incline that I knew I was going to have to run up roundabout mile eight.

My strategy? Run super ass slow. I averaged 13ish minute miles. I actively worked to not run fast for the first couple miles when I was still fresh. I was the tortoise letting all the hares pass me.

But the tortoise finishes.

Photo of me post-race with my Finisher medal around my neck. I am also holding a popsicle stick.

Related: The strawberry ice pop that used to be on that stick I’m holding was the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

I’m proud of me. Plus, since it is the first 15K I have ever run, my, like, two-hour time is totally a PR.

What’s more, I feel reinvigorated. I am ready to start hitting the (snow-free) sidewalks. My new treadmill was delivered to my house so I am prepared in case of rain. I have a full and fun race calendar ahead of me this year and I am ready to go. This race was hard, but I am so glad I did it. Bring on the next one.

Remind Me Never to Sign Up For a Spring Marathon

I’m in a bit of a pickle.

I’m running a 15K race on March 14th and I am seriously undertrained. I was doing really well on my training and then I got sick and then it started snowing all the time and then I lost motivation and then I got really busy and then it snowed some more and then I lost even more motivation and then I realized how totally screwed I am.

I keep trying to run, but all of my good running paths are either covered in snowy ice or feature invisible spots of the even better kind of ice that makes you fall down. Usually that’s not a big problem because I have a treadmill and can just run on it. But my treadmill is broken so I can’t run on that either.

I feel trapped.

Part of me is all, “Fuck it, I’m running through the ice.” I tried to do that yesterday. I got two houses down my block before I slipped on some of that invisible sidewalk ice and clonked my knee. I stood up, dusted myself off, turned around, and walked home.

Do you see how it is?

I did manage to go on an 8ish-mile run last weekend, which at least makes me believe that I can ambulate through 9.3 miles, but that doesn’t make me any less undertrained. I say 8″ish” because I had to walk sections of the route due to deep, crunchy, uneven snow.

Photo of my foot in a running shoe in ankle deep icy snow with frozen footprints that I am stepping in.

It was extremely frustrating.

Needless to say, I am devastated about my treadmill.

I believe it to be irreparable. It’s been weirdly bouncy for months. Then it got kinda bumpy. Then it felt as if a hole was forming in the deck. I checked under the belt and it is all kinds of cracked all over.

At first I was all, oh the shame of being a chubby runner who smashed through her treadmill deck, and then it occurred to me that the deck might have gotten cracked during our move last year and gotten worse over the months since due to, well, due to me being a chubby runner. But once I started thinking about when the weird bounciness started and flashed back to the shoving and pushing and pivoting the movers did to smash the treadmill around our basement corners and into position, it occurs to me that I may not be entirely at fault.

While it is too late to file a claim with the movers, all is not lost because yesterday I did run at least a tenth of a mile while doing reconnaissance at the treadmill store. If you add in the six laps I took around the running shoe store earlier in the day, it’s almost like I ran an ultramarathon.

I mean, I feel proud of myself that I can just go out and (mostly) run almost 8 miles after not doing any significant exercise for a while. I think that says good things about me. Crawling the last mile of my upcoming race will say fewer good things about me.

Even better? I’m flying to another state for this race, so I get to embarrass myself in front of a whole new crop of people. Wish me luck. Or at least wish me funny stories.

Sad Cone

I don’t remember if we were driving or running the first time Alex called my attention to him, lying on his side in a muddy puddle. We couldn’t figure out what his purpose was there. There was no logic to his being placed by the side of a running path in the center of a collection of rainwater where it was unlikely anyone would step, whether he was there or not.

“You know what I feel sad for?” Alex asked, pausing before gesturing to the side of the road and answering himself. “Sad Cone.”

Photo of a bright orange cone lying on its side in a puddle of water.And it was. It was so sad. There he was, lying face down in the muck and the freezing cold and the rain. And no one cared about Sad Cone.

Except Alex and me. We cared about Sad Cone.

Sad Cone lived in a puddle by the side of Alex and my running route. We would also regularly drive by Sad Cone. We always made note of him as we passed, checking to see how deep his puddle was or whether his mud coat had climbed higher. Sad Cone became a character in our lives.

During our runs, I told Alex about running mantras and how sometimes internally repeating such a mantra can keep a runner moving when they think they can’t go on. One day, during a particularly difficult stretch, Alex said, “I AM NOT SAD CONE!” and thus was born a running mantra.

(He also sometimes uses, “OUTTA MY WAY, JERKASS!” complete with flailing arms and shoving, but I prefer the Sad Cone mantra.)

We kept Sad Cone company all fall and he gave us a smile every time we ran passed him. We noted when his puddle seemed particularly cold or dirty. We commented when tire tracks appeared around him. His mantra pushed Alex to run when it was hard. We were contemplating bringing a Sharpie on a run so we could give Sad Cone a face and share him with the other runners on our path.

Then, just as Sad Cone’s puddle shallowed and started to ice over so that we could start thinking about reaching him, we drove past one day and noticed that someone had saved him. He was still on his side, but he was on dry pavement on the other side of the road. By the time we went running the next day, Sad Cone was gone entirely.

We didn’t even get to say goodbye.

We’ve been running a few times since Sad Cone left and it’s just not the same. We’ll never know who put him in that puddle or why and we don’t know who took him away. Sad Cone is gone, but we will always remember him.

Project Stimey Enters Year Three

Photo of me running with type over the top that reads "Project Stimey: Part III"Happy New Year, people. I suppose today is the day of resolutions, which I am in full support of. For me, however, it is a day of reaffirming and evaluating Project Stimey, my multi-year Stimey Improvement Program.

For the past couple of years, Project Stimey has been focused on exercise and fitness, something that I have been extremely successful with. I ran nearly 617 miles last year and ran in a dozen races, including a half marathon. Just today I ran my first race of 2015, a 5K in which I set a new personal record.

I still don’t have the body I want, but I finally feel like a runner.

I still have a lot of goals for my running. For example, I want to run 720 miles next year. That’s 60 miles each month. I really want to run 70 miles a month for a total of 840 miles in 2015, but I’m going to make 720 the goal, with an eye on trying to get 70 miles in during as many months as I can. We’ll see how that goes.

I also want to get faster. I’m aiming for consistent 11 minute or faster miles by the end of the year. We’ll also see how that goes. Although my 5K this morning had an average 10:45 minute/mile, so I’ve made a good start.

Project Stimey’s new aspect this year, however, is going to be a focus on my diet. Alex and I want to work on this together, which is great because we are each other’s worst food enemy.

We also have plans to spend less money, allow our kids to play fewer video games and go on hikes every weekend, but mostly that improving our diet thing.

So those are my Project Stimey goals this year: lots of miles, faster pace, better diet. I think that’s enough to keep me busy for the next 12 months, but even so, there is one other thing I want to keep at the front of my mind this year: I want to keep my eye on the joy in running and fitness.

I have fought for a long time to get where I am and I think it is important to make sure I look up and enjoy not just where I’ve gotten to, but the journey I am taking. In fact, that is why Project Stimey is back for a third year and why I chose a photo of me grinning to represent it. Because at the heart, that’s what Project Stimey is all about: joy—joy in being the person I want to be and joy in doing the things that make me that person.

*****

Per usual, you are welcome to follow along by checking out my race calendar and my mileage log. Not only that, but I want to support you and find out what is going to bring you joy and growth this year. Let me know in the comments so I can cheer you on.

Stimey’s 2015 Mileage Log

Image of me running. I am smiling. Text on the image says "Project Stimey: Part III; Mileage Log"2015 goal = 720 miles

Date Distance Time Pace
JANUARY
Th 1/1/15 3.1 miles 33:20 10:45 min/mi
Su 1/4/15 2.38 miles 28:49 12:08 min/mi
M 1/5/15 2.40 miles 31:12 13:00 min/mi
Tu 1/6/15 5.03 miles 1:01:00
Th 1/8/15 3.34 miles 40:07
Th 1/15/15 3+ miles 40ish min
Sa 1/17/15 2 miles 20+ min
Su 1/18/15 5.61 miles 1:05:21 11:39 min/mi
M 1/19/15 4 miles 47:55
Tu 1/20/15 3.46 miles 42:18
Th 1/22/15 3.28 miles 39:19 11:58 min/mi
Sa 1/24/15 5.42 miles 1:02:32 11:32 min/mi
Su 1/25/15 5.91 miles 1:08:29 11:35 min/mi
Tu 1/27/15 2.54 miles 30:56
W 1/28/15 5.37 miles 1:07:28 12:34 min/mi
F 1/30/15 3.87 miles 46:16
January Totals 60.71 miles 12:05:02
 FEBRUARY
Su 2/1/15 3.1 miles 34:57 11:16 min/mi
F 2/13/15 3.57 miles 48:18
M 2/16/15 3.42 miles 40:50
Tu 2/24/15 3.71 miles 45:11
Th 2/26/15 2.24 miles 26:41
Sa 2/28/15 7.76 miles 1:43:47 13:23 min/mi
February Totals 23.80 miles 4:59:44
MARCH
Su 3/8/15 2.46 miles 31:07 12:40 min/mi
M 3/9/15 2.29 miles 28:04 12:16 min/mi
Tu 3/10/15 2.33 miles 29:18 12:34 min/mi
Sa 3/14/15 9.47 miles 2:01:46 12:51 min/mi
M 3/16/15 2.26 miles 27:31 12:06 miles
Sa 3/21/15 ~2 miles ~24:00
M 3/23/15 3.28 miles 40:27 12:20 min/mi
Tu 3/24/15 5.54 miles 1:09:35 12:33 min/mi
March Totals 29.63 miles 6:11:48
TOTALS: 117.24 miles 23:16:34

Run Notes:

March 14: This was the Gate River Run 15K. My official time was 2:01:44 with a 13:05 min/mile. (Difference due to 9.47 vs. 9.3 miles.) I was really proud of myself and what I did in this race. I ran it really slowly, but, except for water stops, I ran the whole, whole thing.

March 10: I am running a 15K race on Saturday. Clearly I’m prepared. Silver lining: That race will more than double my mileage thus far for March. So there’s that.

February 28: I know how slow this run was. I have a 15K coming up in two weeks and I had to know if I am still capable of running more than five miles. Turns out I am, thank god, but it also turns out that all the sidewalks in the world are buried under ice, forcing runners to walk part of their runs. Also, I haven’t run very much recently, so I’m pretty slow. Dammit.

February 26: My treadmill is dying. This is really bad for me. Please direct your thoughts toward efforts to get the snow to melt so I can run outside.

February 24: In terms of running, February has not gone well. I gotta get my shit together.

February 1: This was the Penguin Pace. I ran it about 3-1/2 minutes faster than I did last year. Yay, me.

January 30: I hit my monthly goal today, but it looks like I’m not going to hit my stretch goal of 70 miles a month. Some people run more than this many miles in a WEEK. I can’t even fathom how they do that. I mean, I guess they’re probably substantially faster than I am, but still.

January 28: Super slow run today because my path was icy. Also I fell at mile 3.5. And then I had to roll off of the ice sheet so I wouldn’t break through to the icy puddle below if I sat up or tried to stand where I fell. All pretty standard, really.

January 25: I paused my Garmin at a streetlight and forgot to turn it back on for a good chunk of time. Maybe a half mile?

January 18: This run felt so great! I haven’t run more than 3ish miles for such a long time that it felt great to know that I actually could still run a longer distance. I did get bitten by a dog, but it only ripped my pants and didn’t actually get to the leg itself, so it could have gone worse.

January 15 & 17: My Garmin was glitchy these days, so I don’t have exact info for these runs.

Stimey’s 2015 Races

Photo of me running. I am smiling. Text over the image says "Project Stimey: Part III; Races"January 1: New Year’s Day 5K
Reston, VA
5K
Official time: 33:20 (PR)

February 1: Penguin Pace
Columbia, MD
5K
Official time: 34:57

March 14: Gate River Run
Jacksonville, FL
15K
Official time: 2:01:44 (PR)

March 29: The Alum Run
Washington, DC
5K
Official time:

April 26: Pike’s Peek
Rockville, MD
10K
Official time:

June 6: Colleen’s BA 5K
Kensington, MD
5K
Official time:

September 27: Rock the Creek Relay
Rockville, MD
30 miles
Official time:

Happy New Year!

Well, I had a very successful last day of 2014. I finished cleaning my whole house (except for that one room that we won’t speak of; everyone has that one room, right?) so we can at least start the new year not living in filth.

I also managed to wear a white sweater all damn day long without spilling anything on it. It’s like I’m a fucking magician or something.

I was printing out my blog yesterday as I do at the end of every year (it took less paper than ever before) and realized that Team Stimey may have had a more epic year than we have had in a long, long time. And the funny thing is that almost none of it was planned prior to 2014.

Probably the biggest thing that happened to us is that we bought a new house, moved, and sold our old house all within three months, when we hadn’t been planning to do any of that for at least another year. During that period of time, I touched every single thing we owned twice, once to pack them and once to unpack them, yet I still never found the brown clogs that I KNOW were somewhere in the house we moved out of.

WHERE THE FUCK DID THE BROWN CLOGS GO?

This will probably be the only year that the car we bought isn’t the biggest purchase we made. We weren’t planning on buying a new car either, except our mechanic told us that our old car was likely to kill us (and soon!), so we got to hemorrhage money on wheels in addition to a house. Per usual, the process was soul-destroying.

The last major thing that happened to Team Stimey this year that we had not planned on, was my joining the staff of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network as office manager. I was completely terrified to take that job. I’d worked in the recent past, but it was out of my home and I only had to see my boss once a year at a holiday party. This job involved riding Metro into DC multiple days a week to wear business clothes, procure summer childcare, interact with actual people, and generally be a professional person.

None of these things come easily to me, but taking that job is one of the best things that I’ve done in recent memory. I love working for an organization that I feel so proud of and I feel as if my particular skill set is very helpful there. I really like my co-workers and have liked getting to know them. I enjoy my new-found sense of purpose and I am so grateful for the structure and routine that working has brought to my life. Also, very importantly, I am so happy to experience autistic space, something I haven’t had before.

So those are the really big, full-year impacting changes for Team Stimey, but there was also a lot of other stuff that happened as well. I’ve selected one post from each month to give you a little tour of Team Stimey’s year.

We started January with Jack’s early-2014 bout of rogue eyelashes. I’m happy to report that they didn’t come back.

I did a lot of running in 2014. In February I told you all about how I’m the best runner ever. In case you don’t bother to click that link, you should know that I’m being sarcastic there.

March brought us more Jack, specifically his special hockey tournament that made me truly remember the joy of travel tournaments with his team.

2014—April, specifically—brought us Chester, a small brown mouse who tried to fill Algernon’s paw prints.

May. Oh, lord. May. May was the month that we gave our pool to some friends of ours, along with a free extra gift of wild rat babies. Yet one more reason you might not want to know me in real life.

June was an intense month for Stimeyland. That was the month that my post about Jack and his autistic classmates’ photos being left off of a display of all his school’s graduating fifth graders went as viral as I ever hope to have a post of mine go. The attention from that post, even though it was mostly positive, was enough to convince me that I am completely happy staying a small blogger. I have no idea how some people deal with the intensity of that much attention all the time. That post actually inspired real change though, with the formation of a committee at that school to work on ideas for better inclusion. Jack is no longer at that school, but I attended the first committee meeting and am hopeful that it continues and is making positive change.

Alex and I actually went on our first kid-free vacation since…ever in June, but I wrote about it in July.

My kids went back to school in August. Sam started 7th grade at the same middle school he went to last year. Jack started 6th grade at a new school—and proceeded to be super successful there. Quinn started 4th grade at a new school, which was pretty tough on him. He’s doing better though. Also, I wrote about the bus stop.

I ran my first half marathon in September. Because I’m me, I fell flat on my face twice during the running of said half marathon.

I wrote about a bunch of fun things in October, including my trip to Disney World as well as the Bourbon Chase, but I choose to highlight Sam’s decision to start playing the bassoon because (1) I haven’t highlighted anything about Sam yet, (2) you guys left some awesome comments on that post, and (3) Alex was definitively told he was wrong, which I always enjoy. It turns out that, although he gets better every week, learning to play the bassoon is hard and I’m not convinced that Sam doesn’t wish he’d never started.

We raked a lot of leaves in November.

Quinn drew some excellent illustrations for an assignment in December.

All in all, it’s been a really wonderful year. Team Stimey is very lucky, mostly because we have each other as well as a strong support system who always steps up for us. Thank you for being here for this year. I hope you all have a 2015 full of love and joy and laughter. That’s what we’re hoping for.

As I watch my three kids play with each other as Alex and I sit on the couch together, I think, fate willing, there is a good chance that’s exactly what we’ll get in 2015.

Photo of my three kids