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Rock n Roll Discount!
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Archive for the ‘2017 Races’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Did I run #58 or was that just my imagination?

Wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to do this, and frankly, if I even should.

Chicago, I don’t know why but I love visiting you. My running here has rarely been great, but I come back for more.

Between my mom’s accident, my own health, and the fact that the last time I ran here was right after Chris died, I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to happen, if at all.

Without burying the lead, this was 3rd worst finish time of 58 half marathons (and two of the three times I’ve run RnRCHI have been some of my worst finish times.) So there’s that.

But. I finished. I did cross that finish line. Despite everything. The heat and humidity was worse two years ago, but still, we started at 70 degrees at 6:30 in the morning. But RnR was well prepared, extra water stations, a cold wet sponge station, multiple large water sprinklers to run under or through, a couple of cooling buses if folks needed them. And extra medical tents. Here’s the good news (especially compared to two years ago), the staff at most of the medical tents looked almost bored. That’s a good thing – it means they weren’t tending to as many people as they could’ve been.

My system isn’t on par given the last few weeks but I managed to eek this one out. I could’ve, yes, skipped it altogether, but after the first week of my mom’s accident and then last week going full tilt each day to help get her set up for success at home, part of me needed to have this outlet. Even though, if I’m honest, part of me also just wanted to get it over with. I don’t like that feeling, I much prefer being excited and looking forward to every moment leading up to the race, and being present enough to notice so much going on around me. Hell, I forgot a ton of stuff for a race weekend as I was packing and didn’t even realize I did until far too late.

I don’t recall much of the race, because I was in the mindset of wanting to simply get to the finish line. It felt like the longest miles ever recorded. I managed the first few miles runinng, and then I took walk breaks and nearly every mile, if not more frequently. I was not a strong runner for any of it, in fact came close to hurling (not because of effort) more times than I can count (what fun photos those would be.) At one point at mile 10, I was extremely wobbly. Weaving a bit, saw a few concerned faces glance my way. As we started to go up a hill – and I was walking, I noticed my legs practically marching themselves, not by my effort, simply whatever energy was coursing through me. It happened a couple more times, but thankfully I never needed assistance to cross the finish line. Now I get how many times I’ve seen that in other people, what that very odd feeling is all about.

It was a slog. I love the city of Chicago and when I was able to pay attention to my surroundings, I loved where I was running – it was a fabulous course this year. More live brass bands than any other city. Great architecture and sites. Classic windy city streets. Incredible volunteers cheering folks on. And clearly a lot of people making their best efforts to have their own good race and great experience. Even Katherine Switzer was there – while I didn’t get to meet her, just knowing she was there was inspiration enough.

I definitely ran for my mama, not because she would be running, but because she’s been so incredibly supportive of this running journey of mine including picking a race location each eyar to join me at. I’m hoping we get her wholly healthy to the point where she can again join me this Fall.

So yeah, I did ‘run’ it, I did start it and yes, I finished it. While it doesn’t exactly inspire me like so many other run experiences have, it counts for something I suppose, to cross those two markers yet again, in spite of everything leading up and around it. Here’s hoping this 2017 halfway mark (five done, five to go) is the beginning of a real, sustainable, happy turnaround.

PostHeaderIcon Finishing is Winning

Finishing is Winning

Taken me a minute or two (or weeks) to write this about half #57. Not sure why. It wasn’t the worst finish time or the best. But it’s a significant race for me – aren’t they all?

I guess it’s significant because it’s starting to feel like every race could be my last. I don’t know how many more I can do – regardless of doing one or 10 in a year.

But to get back to #57 – in my hometown. That’s always special to me. A year ago, the Seattle race couldn’t have been better. An article I’d written for the Seattle Times had just come out two days after I landed in town, I ran my fastest Seattle time (by a lot), enjoyed the race, got some good quality time with my mom who was a rockstar and even got to celebrate over dinner with a good friend. It was pretty much the perfect race weekend for me.

This year – not so much. I was able to come up to town early, but not for fun reasons (other than extra time with mom), to see some doctors and figure out why I”ve had a cough for 2+ months. It was scary. The doctor appointment was somewhat inconclusive, which with autoimmune crap they usually are initially, and the chest x-ray – just the act of doing it – was scary. I went home after those appointments and slept for a couple hours. I was wiped out to say the least. And then felt paralyzed in the “I know something is wrong” fear, but also dismissing it and pretending everything is fine, to keep folks around me calm. But the next day the tears came and went. I rallied, in a daze, to do things and get prepared for the race. I once had a friend years ago when I was in the hospital say “oh it’s just Gretchen, I’m sure it’s just something weird” which didn’t exactly make me feel supported and also makes me want to hide my health crap more than share it. Hell, I can’t imagine having a guy stick around to be able to ‘deal’ with me or my health, since it hasn’t happened yet, so it’s easier to just stuff it. Fake it till you make it – the most common advice I’ve ever received.

Went to the expo the day before the race, and all I wanted to do was grab my number and be invisible. Absorb into the walls. Hide. Got my samples, shared some laughs, and hightailed it out of there to, yup, get some rest. I no longer feel brave or resilient, I don’t seem to have strong days really. I feel like an imposter, someone just getting by. I still run, I still try, but the rally has faded somehow, the body issues fucking with the mind. And vice versa.

But the race. I didn’t do my typical race prep morning of, but pretty close. I wondered how I would do, with the cough, and the laboring body. One thing was clear – I’d had three important conversations prior to this race. Once in person with my mom, one on the phone with my sister on Friday and one on the phone with my brother on Saturday – all promising them I would take it easy and not over do it. Now, I could not make this promise to myself. I might try but I’d push somehow. But when all three made the effort to reach out and make this request, it felt different. I wasn’t doing it for me, I was doing it to respect what they asked of me. I did what I needed to do to prep for the race, and then I promised I would take it easy.

The start was pretty awesome – I mean, I had to get there ridiculously early, but we started right by Husky Stadium, my alma mater, with the finish at the Century Link Field. And in getting there early, I got to rest inside Husky Stadium, which felt special. To be in there and take some photos of the new Husky Field itself, well what better setting could I ask for? And then to run across Montlake Bridge and through the Arboretum, down into Madison Park – couldn’t be more quintessential Seattle than that.

Did something I’ve never done before – I stopped every two or so miles. I recall some of them, heading up Madison, and a few others. Somehow I lucked out and they usually came as a hill was starting or at a turn where it made sense to walk a bit. Sometimes I’d push past the mile marker but not too much – I really did stop and walk every two-ish miles. I held my end of the bargain. It wasn’t easy. Not because I actually wanted to keep running when I said I would stop, but it wasn’t easy because it was hard to run at all, and be out there for that long. One perfectly timed walk-break came as I took a right up a hill when they were splitting the half and full marathoners – those poor runners had another 18 miles to go, meanwhile I only had five. That was a nice realization on that walk.

Did another thing I haven’t done before – forgot my music. Now, one time, also a Seattle race (2011?) I thought my nano was charged and it wasn’t but that time I actually still ran with the earphones in, because that’s the feeling I knew. This time I left the nano and earbuds at the house, forgetting the entire contraption. And so, I was forced to be aware and awake the whole course. I noticed my breathing, of course, and the footfalls. I noticed more around me than maybe I normally would, but then again, I pride myself on picking up stories. I will say, that seems to be easier when I”m feeling healthier and stronger – running when it’s this tough, really I’m just trying to get through each step, each mile so the focus is different, perhaps more selfish and I feel somewhat guilty about that, that I’m not focused more on others.

I recall the first mile or so, boing through the Arboretum and the Seafair pirates offering rum, a live band with a singer crooning “Fly Me To The Moon” and the taiko drums prevalent at nearly every RocknRoll race course now – although I will say having them in the first few miles doesn’t offer as much “oomph” as having them at mile eight or 10.

Wearing a Seahawks tank top for the race was purposeful and it brought on the desired result – every so often, a runner, a spectator or a volunteer handing out water would yell “GO HAWKS!” which was incredibly inspiring and motivating, even if just for a fist pump and a step or two.

Miles four and five were interesting…first, a guy with a speaker in his backpack was weaving around many runners. Not entirely uncommon, usually at least one runner in a course has a speaker and ‘shares’ their music with everyone, whether they want it or not. (riddle me this: it’s always a guy.) This guy? Oh, he was also singing at the top of his lungs along to whatever song was playing. As loud as he could. Sharing the love of his music. And scattering people around him as they tried to get out of his way. It was a certain age, for sure, that liked or disliked what he was doing. He was an older guy, and those older runners who liked his music laughed, the rest turned their own music up.

And then the guy who actually made me cough. As in, he was smoking the biggest fattest joint I’ve ever seen, while running, and with his speakers (it’s a thing) blaring. Ok, I think he’d stopped to be able to inhale as much as he could, but it was insane. Giant clouds of pungent smoke didn’t just drift across the crowd, it was like they aggressively sought out all the people passing him. Yes, some people laughed “yeah, dude!” and all that but I actually thought it was kind of a dick move. Yes, it made me in particular cough a lot which isn’t cool, but it was aggressive to a group of health conscious people who didn’t ask or invite for that to occur. It’s a choice and you’re allowed to choose to smoke pot in WA, without a doubt. But to force it on a group of people like that, beyond rude and arrogant. Bay To Breakers in San Francisco? Sure, it’s expected. An RnR race where the half and full courses are still running together? No thank you.

Speaking of coughing, first time running with the new steroid inhaler I have. You know you’re inhaling something intense when the pharmacist say “make sure to brush your teeth and tongue after every time you use it.” Ugh.

Running through Madison Park area – um, okay, yeah, I see where the 1Percenters live in Seattle. Holy mansions and fanciness.

This was another new course (last year was too) and I don’t know if it’s because of construction on I-90 or if it’s going to be a new one for Seattle RnR, but I liked it. I mean, it’s tough – tougher than last year and easier than the ones before that. But there was something cool about it. Half of the course was actually the same course, but running the opposite direction on it – like Martin Luther King Boulevard. That was kind of interesting – a course I’ve run a number of times, but almost felt backwards.

Getting to the finish line – that was an effort. There were moments in the last few miles where I felt capable and other moments where I felt like my feet would fall off, my head might roll off and my whole body might shut down. But I kept running. Or shuffling really. In fact a few times, I could barely keep my feet up and the toe of my shoe would trip me up a little. Pick your feet up! I would think to myself, and I would, for a few steps, and then fall back into a sloppy-just-get-there run. And yet again, something about being close to the end can inspire you to keep going, and so I did. I ran until I crossed the finish line, and then felt that familiar need to throw up. (anytime I run more than a mile or so, it happens) But I did it. And my mom was there to say congratulations, you made a good time! And I took a few pictures, got my medal, got some foods and my gear bag. And then within about 15 minutes of finishing, we were on our way back to the car, to head back home and grab a nap. Before I had to jump on a plane and get ready for one of the most intense weeks of work.

As I lay my head down for my nap, knowing I could only sleep for maybe 45 minutes, I thought about the race. I thought about all those steps I took. I felt pride for honoring what I said I would honor to my mom, sister and brother, I felt pride for doing it at all, I wondered and quickly dismissed if I could’ve ran it more or faster. Because I realized, in this case for sure, no matter my time, that for me, for this race, finishing is winning.

PostHeaderIcon Celebrating 20 Years of RocknRoll San Diego (and #56)


In celebration of Global Running Day, a little review of half #56…

Been a while. Needed this. Another starting line and eventually, another finished line crossed. Yup, #56 is done. And it was a celebration of RocknRoll’s 20 years of running, starting in San Diego. It was a blast to be there, part of the celebration in SD, honoring all things running and RocknRoll.
Really wasn’t sure I was going to cross that finish line, to be honest, and really really don’t like the 6:15am start time. I actually felt good going into the race – if tired – and was hoping for this one to help me kick back into gear from earlier in the year. For it to be in San Diego – I first ran here in 2011 – and to be able to spend time with two of my dearest friends and their two amazing girls (including my goddaughter) made it all the much sweeter.


It’s infamous June Gloom time in SoCal and that was certainly the case this weekend – I don’t think the sun came out at all on Sunday. But it was also a bit muggy to start the race. For no sun or heat, I was sweating from the first few steps run. That did me and my muscles no favors going forward, which made me feel more sluggish than I would’ve liked. At this point, I run through the gamut of thoughts as always from I could PR to I could break 1:50 to I want to come in under 2 hours to maybe just make sure I run the whole thing to how about I just find a way to cross the finish line in one piece? I ran the first eight miles, not fast but decent even if I struggled a bit, and then the wheels fell off. I walked a few hills, ran into Anne and Jim Ryun who I look forward to seeing at any races – to run into them with big smiles all around on the course was the boost I needed at that time. And then mile 10. I don’t know what happened or rather, why, but I threw up. More than once. And went super wobbly and walking in not-a-straight-line. I apologize to any runners who had to see me heaving. And I apologize to the disc golf course bushes I practically dove into. Took a while to get my feet back – and I was willing to walk the rest of the way – but somehow I found the strength to attempt to run (more like shuffle) and I did eventually keep going, and yes, I did cross the finish line. And under two hours (mystery to me as to how and don’t totally remember the last couple miles.) It took me a few hours of sitting in a tent to get my real strength back – I was weak and mentally vanquished. But eventually I did and boy did it pay off to be able to chill out for a couple hours and then re-engage with the celebration in front of me.

Before I get to all the fun people I got to meet which turned my race day experience completely around, a couple more observations from the course itself. First, I got to pass right by St. Joseph’s Cathedral on my long walk to the starting village – I took it as a sign that my dad was with me – that being his middle name and how I’ve always connected it to him and his faith. Second, I saw not one but two firefighters in full gear running the course. Say what? Yes and it’s the first time in 56 races I’ve seen that. Incredibly impressive for sure. Third, it’s truly the most alcohol I’ve ever seen along a route – at mile 4.5 there was a whole bar set up. And I lost count of beers, tequila, vodka, champagne and whiskey people were offering up to runners. I couldn’t and wouldn’t and didn’t see too many takers but clearly enough for folks to want to offer it up? Fourth, a couple good signs again, you clever current event sign makers: “Run like covfefe?!?” and “Run like United Airlines wants your seat!” Lastly, I got to see my friend John at the start. Literally at the start – they move people in front of each corral to stall the wave start and I was on the far right and right at the front of pack when I looked up and saw John who works at Competitor as one of the line holders – to be able to get a hug and high ten and a “good luck on your 56th!” from a friend literally right as you’re about to take off is an awesome way to start.


Over the last couple of months, as I’ve fought some health battles and some other things, I’ve considered and even offered to “give up race weekends” and even more “give up running” in order to appease something. And people I’ve shared that with, who really know me, have each time unequivocally stated “oh HELL no! It’s who you are, it’s one of the best parts of you and how you commit and enjoy and inspire is so important. Keep doing them, don’t give them up!” And after this last weekend – finding myself in my happy place of a running race weekend and being quite comfortable in my skin no matter how the race goes, and just generally feeling relaxed and happy in it all, no way. It IS a part, a big part, of who I am and whatever adjustments I need to make to keep this alive and well I will do. It’s too important. This is me, this is who I am, this is what I love to do.


And, finding my way to finish the race up and take time to take care of myself then allowed me to meet: Roger Craig (sorry my fellow Seahawks fans, I had to, for Tracy) who really changed his whole physical and mental self to go from an NFL physique to a running one; got a congratulations from Meb again – so incredibly gracious with his time and energy before and after races, looking forward to seeing him at a race again soon; Joe, an incredibly inspirational runner who was the first person to run 100 RocknRoll events – again, I look forward to seeing Joe again at a race soon (I think Philly for my 50th RocknRoll event?); and finally THE Michael Franti – wow. Just wow. Again, so very gracious with his time and energy – first, his concert was amazing and he’s so giving to his fans, really engages in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen a musician do and then to be able to spend a minute with him, and receive his warmth and kindness, his enthusiasm for life is infectious. He took yoga from my sister in SF and remembered her – and he has a son who has a rare auto immune disease and is an AI warrior himself.

Thank you, RocknRoll and whatever divine guidance occurred to make this 56th half marathon go from some pretty big lows to rising above even the best of expectations. Awesome sauce. Anything is possible and every damn step counts.

PostHeaderIcon First half was in SF and now so is #55, 7 years later

AKA This one was personal.

Be the runner that waves at kids in the windows as you run by. That’s what I did this morning. And that made it for me.

I didn’t share with anyone “hey I’m running my 55th in SF on Sunday!” because it was such an early race, the weather iffy and I just didn’t think, unless you’re running, people really get up super early on a Sunday to spectate. Definitely saw a *few* people on the course but with a 6:15am start, one of the quieter (noise ordinance) races I’ve run. (and in the future, if you’re someone who really would’ve gotten up to be along the course or finish line, let me know, I won’t keep it to myself next time)

Plus, honestly I’d given myself permission to do a DNF. As in, pull off the course if I need to. I’m no where near where I’d like to be or have been in the past (especially last year, which is disorienting) and frankly, the hills are intimidating whether it’s your first time or many times running it.

And so I ran it, not knowing at all how I’d feel and just willing to get up and try. Get up again and try again, test my will and resiliency.

Not so fun when you get about two hours of sleep the night before. Went to bed early to be able to get up at 2:30am to make, from Sonoma, all the parking and shuttle cut off times. I’m not sure I’ve ever consumed so much coffee pre-race.

As we’re running along 32nd Avenue, I look up to my right and see a big picture window with three or four kids in pajamas waving wildly at anyone who will look and wave at them. Brought a huge smile to my face, so glad I saw them. Bit of a boost.

And because I knew this was more a try-race and scenic at that, decided to run with my phone so I could get some photos. And I did. Well, starting in the dark (which is so discombobulating) it had to wait until it lifted to light. But I got a few goods ones, including along memorial mile where the Wear Blue To Remember folks stand with their American flags, honoring the soldiers we’ve lost. It is one of my favorite, if emotional and reverent, part of the RocknRoll race courses. This one majestic as you came up the hill and began to spot the Golden Gate Bridge.

Speaking of the bridge – as I was running across it I suddenly realized, hey, the first half nearly seven years ago was in San Francisco too. And we ran across the Golden Gate Bridge (yep, quite a few photo opps) then too. It felt apropos to have number 1 – the one that opened up this whole new world to me – and number 55 connected this way. 55. Yep, 55 starting lines so far.

As we’re running along the bridge, the bridge workers are high fiving people if you wanted. At one point, I’m cresting (efforting) up a hill and must’ve had a determined look on my face cause one of them called out to me and I looked up and smiled and waved and he says “there you go, there’s a beautiful smile.” Hee.

Seriously one of the quietest races I’ve run. And I kind of like that. It felt personal in a way. And I was realizing along the course that two years ago I ran it, and ran it with someone I was a bit intimidated to be running with even though I had a lot of races under my belt. And I say ‘ran with’ lightly because I think I let him take off at the first half a mile – as in not even a full mile together. Man that took the wind out of my sails. And I was pushing so hard that race, trying so hard, was in better shape and wanting to prove I too was good. And the race sucked for me, I didn’t enjoy it and it didn’t feel good. This race, I had my head on a swivel, taking it all in, all the beauty of the city, the happenings around me, the military band at the northern bridge turnaround, and I just settled into making it an enjoyable race, by mile five figuring yeah, I should be able to finish this (still giving myself an out just in case cause…the hills.) What a difference a couple years made in terms of this course. I’m not the runner I’ve been, certainly not recently compared to pretty much all 2016, and still finding something to dig up and take another step. It was interesting to reflect between the two race experiences. One example – two years ago when I would stop to walk, it was bad, I wasn’t pushing hard enough, wasn’t enough effort, doing it wrong, not proving I was strong – this time, when I walked, not only was I taking care of myself and listening to my body, it made the running more enjoyable and free and felt better.

As we come off the bridge and head into the Presidio, the Khalifa/Puth song “See You Again” that came out right after Chris died comes into my ears. It startled me as it’s an emotional song because of how I connect it to Chris. What are the odds it starts right as I head towards where we first became roommates? Sigh.

Heading along Marina Boulevard past Chrissy Field and I am looking up at the beautiful homes to my right. I spot a big brother and his baby sister watching everyone run by, but no one else sees them. He sees me see them and shoots his hand up to wave wildly, his other hand grabbing one of hers and making her arm wave – I give them a huge smile and wave excitedly back. Happy heart.

Spot a car as it suddenly pulls up along us, curious as to what he’s doing. He hops out to get the cup of coffee that was on top of his car, while he was driving. I yell out ‘nice save!’ and he laughs and gives me a thumbs up.

And then you run up Bay to Polk. That’s an effort in itself. But then up Polk. Holy Lord. As I’m taking a right I hear audible groans from people as they realize the last less than two miles just are tough. Like rolling hills but no downhill, just crest and go up again. Up the first one I hear this woman grunting, no, more like shouting to herself, willing herself up the hill. It. Was. Awesome. It was as if she willed all those around her. I’d already given myself permission to walk as much as I wanted up the hill(s) but her commitment and awesome determination inspired me and then some. Her energy was on fire. The hills after that was off/on for most, and eventually you do get a lot of downhill. My legs are tight, my body is wanting to seize up but I’m also wanting to finish strong since I enjoyed stopping multiple times to take photos. The finish felt pretty good and I find myself wondering where she is, how she did. I get my medal and a bottle of water to down and look up to see her with a giant grin on her face. I walk over to her and tell her “you are amazing. congratulations on your finish. loved how you were getting yourself – all of us – up the polk street hills. congratulations!” and we fell into a sweaty runner hug typical of the camaraderie one finds on race day, especially at the finish line (oh the emotions.) She’s SO ecstatic with her finish, she keeps walking in circles, yelling with personal pride. She thanked me and told me her name is Rosaria, it was her second half marathon, she laughed about how she got herself going uphill. I want someone like her at every race.

Then I met Walter post-finish line, a guy who was thrilled with his race. Cause he swam a couple miles on Friday. Biked 46 miles yesterday. And then ran a hilly half this morning and beat his time by a lot and still felt good on tired legs. Cause he’s training for an Ironman. Walter is 60+. And his enthusiasm should be bottled.
And so, another finish line is in the books. #55. I couldn’t have predicted it, including, oh yeah, I somehow was only a minute slower than the SF course two years ago. So there’s that.

Then I took myself to go visit my Daddy in the Presidio National Cemetery, this race being in the backyard of where he was born and where he is buried, and thank him for whatever he passed on to me that allows me physically and emotionally to do this. I swear I felt a hand on my shoulder as I was knelt down in front of his marble gravestone. It was a quiet moment and the perfect way to reflect and close another race day.

PostHeaderIcon First race of 2017…oh boy really?

This was either sheer will and perseverance or stubborn stupidity. Or all of the above. I ran a super cold half #54 this weekend. Didn’t exactly let too many people know, ‘cept for my lovely local DC friends and a handful of others who just knew. T’was ugly.
See, I haven’t run since 2016. It’s mid-March. And I don’t mean like some runners say they “haven’t run” but still do 2-3 miles 3x/week, but it’s “not really running.” Truly not running or hiking or training or anything. Physically I lost endurance, strength, boldness, lung capacity, form, speed, and of course, inspiration. My gut, my joints, my lungs are out of whack and my pd numbers have climbed again. So as I write this on a plane back to Denver just hours after I crossed a finish line (which was in doubt for much of the race), I am marveling that I actually walked onto the damn plane. Let alone ran Saturday morning.

Seems I took one too many life gut punches last Fall and while for a bit I continued to feel physically strong and kept going (think I was attempting another fake-it-till-you-make-it which so does not work as a lifestyle), I ran out of gas, and then some. And can’t seem to find the next filling station. Jan and Feb didn’t exactly start the year off great either. It’s been a rough few months to say the least. Hard to find much get up and go. Not running has had nothing to do with being lazy or needing a kick in the pants.
A few good things from the race did happen – including, yes, crossing the finish line. Well meaning folks had encouraged me to hey, pull a DNF if you need to, just take care of yourself. It’s gonna be tough no matter what cause you haven’t run AND out of control cold, right? Top 3 coldest races I’ve run.

Speaking of coldest races – third of three cold races where there was ice at the water stations. As in, spilled out of cups onto the ground, turned into ice that one had to step lightly around (or end up on your ass.) My friend Adam told me that at one water station, the volunteer pulled back the cup he almost handed him because *itwasice*. Yes, ice. The next cup he got was slushy water.

Speaking of Adam – somehow the what-are-the-odds of running into him in the corral at the start of the race last year was topped by not seeing him in a corral (keeping to myself a bit these days) and then seeing him at MILE 10. As in, he was ahead of me running and I looked up and thought, hmm, I think that’s Adam. And used a surge to pull up to his left, confirmed my suspicion and gave him “fancy meeting you here!” And we ran for a minute. As in really just a minute or two. Adam is super fast and given that I haven’t run, I am not. By mile 10 every fiber of my legs hurt and my lungs were hanging on. Trying to keep up with speedy Adam made my lungs nearly jump out of my chest so I said “go get your finish time, I’m gonna hang back but let’s connect at the finish line.” And true to his word we did meet up. Thank you Adam, you made those last few miles more buoyant.

Before I ever saw Adam, I saw whiskey. At mile 7. Every ounce of me wanted to spike left and throw a dixie cup shot back, for warmth, for shits and giggles, for curiosity. But by mile 7 I was fairly light headed consistently, with a frozen face and remember that one time a race had wine-tasting at mile 10 was awful so I opted not to. #nexttime
And after that, the Balata DC drums corps at mile 8. Wow. Even in my woozy non-whiskey state I was able to focus briefly on the energy and intensity of the swaying group. Best yet.

Back and forth this requiem goes, kind of like my brain during the race. The scenery. Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, cherry blossoms, Georgetown, heading down North Capitol Ave and running towards the Capitol. All gorgeous on this sunny, clear and ridonkulously cold running morning.

Oh! Speaking of scenery, Rock Creek Parkway, beautiful. But then it turned mean – the hill. Thankfully the Run to Remember folks in blue were there. Having spent Friday afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery feeling overwhelmed, in a good way, at the sheer enormity and emotion of it all, I burst into tears seeing all the parents, friends, siblings, children of fallen soldiers holding American flag after flag. I walked that hill partially because of my lack of strength and partially to pay respect.

Judy. Judy. Judy. I love that you were there, running too. You are amazing. Was this number 9? You make it look effortless. You inspire me and your compassionate non-judgmental support for where I’m at these days is incredibly humbling and kind. Thank you for meeting up with me for a healthy pre-race dinner and walking back post-race through cherry blossoms in our tired, cold, shivering mylar shawls. The new piece of race jewelry stating “You Are Enough” is something I’m wearing each race from now on (and perhaps more.) Thank you my friend.

And Sara, Bryan, Audrey – to be able to spend quality time with all three of you in the days leading up to the race – you will never know the appreciation I have for you each, for your compassion, laughter, kindness and inspiration. You made these last few days brilliant and even happy for me. Thank you for letting me be fully me, accepting me no matter what, and giving me a bit of hope and light. And for grounding me in order to be able to run, foolish as it may be.

Speaking of appreciation – dear sir and his lovely wife who were in the VIP tent when I got there. I stumbled in and crawled over towards the heater but on the other side of a bar table. I sat on the ground on my mylar post-race shawl, desperately wanting to change out of my wet cold clothes (it was so cold, the water I got at the finish line had begun to turn icy a few minutes later, I was beyond shivering) into something, well, not warm but maybe dry. I began to shiver uncontrollably. I got my first two layers off and they asked if I needed help, my pride shook my head no and smiled thank you. I got my new layers on but by then my fingers had lost all feeling and color and dexterity. Couldn’t even put my gloves back on. I had a packet of hand warmers and tried mightily with my teeth to open both sides. No such luck. I hear again “do you need some help?” I look up and with tears in my eyes, I nod. He appears squatting next to me and rips open both packets and I put them in my hands. He giggles and takes them back to shake them and then puts them in my hands, shaking my hands to get the heat in the packets going. It’s the only body part moving at this point. A minute later he comes back “there’s more heat on the other side, I’m not taking no for an answer, we’ll help you up” and he and his wife help me up and move me around to the other side of the table and I sit back down on the ground to try to warm up. Everything but my hands do start to warm up (those took another hour or so.) I looked around to say thank you once the feeling came back to my face and brain (seriously, this is a whole new concept of brain freeze!) and my kind friends were gone. Whoever you were, thank you thank you thank you. I will pay it forward, I promise.

This race had lots of entertainment along the course, including:
The. Best. Signs. Ever.
“You’re Running Better Than the Government.” Yeah, saw this sign FIVE TIMES. And pretty sure there were more along the way.
“Run Like Steve Bannon is Chasing You.” And then I promptly pictured the grim reaper from SNL chasing me.
“Nevertheless, She Persisted.” Yeah, that one gave me a little boost every time.
Ok, this one I gave her a high-five for, laughing out loud: “Don’t Worry, I Called Russia – You’re Going to Win.” Weeheeheehee.

Everything hurts. Every muscle I knew I had and others I didn’t know I had. Including my face, cause of a wee case of wind burn. Why did I run? I don’t know. It was far from easy, in fact the complete opposite. Both physically and more mentally. Who am I without running? I’ve wondered about even sharing this, writing about this, given the state of our communities and society right now, the urgency of the work ahead. That it feels selfish to even hint at the idea of needed support. I’m learning to not wear my heart on my sleeve so much – it’s not serving me, moreover it’s crushing me more often than not. Then again, as we talk about at Allegory all the time, we’ve been raised to just stuff it and get over things (and that’s advice I’ve been given too many times.) How’s that working? And coincidentally much of my health stuff rears it’s raging head whatever I’m stuffing for whatever reason. I may feel wary and far more cynical than ever, and I also know I’m horrid at asking for help.

I’ve prided myself on being the resilient one, helping others, trying to prove or show my strength and ability to rise again (and again and again.) And in being honest with a few key people who encouraged me to share this because it’s real, it’s raw, it’s honest – it happens to nearly everyone and people rarely talk about it. And so I am. There’s so much more I could divulge about the last few months, the naïve trust I had in certain things – people and life, how I feel like the raw end of a boxing glove. what I haven’t done for myself, how I have trouble taking real care of me and how I’m paying for it now. Yes, perhaps I needed a break – but I didn’t take it for real, cause beating yourself during said break means it’s not a break, really. Self sabotaging isn’t exactly helpful either. I’m not great at asking for help, stupidly prideful about holding the piano by myself, stuffing it to prove something (God knows what) to someone, something. I have another race in two weeks. I’ve signed up for a few this year. I can honestly say I have no idea how they’re going to go, or even if I’m going to do them let alone finish them. But something in the last three days tried quietly to get my attention, in a good way, and maybe just maybe, this is still who I am. Or, post the big goal last Fall, a new version of the next phase. What I do know is despite an avalanche of damn good reasons to check out and chuck hope out the window, I got up and ran-ish and crossed finish line #54. If you’re still reading this, thank you whoever you are for taking the moment to read this raw, real account. Feeling incredibly grateful right now.