Living in the Present, Reflecting on the Past (Part 2)

Well, well. Here we are again. Thanksgiving is over & the holidays are upon us. Yes, I said HOLIDAYS are upon us because there is more than one holiday UPON US! I really don’t care if you say “Happy Holidays” or whatever it is that you celebrate, as long as you have the same respect for me. When it is Christmas, I will say “Merry Christmas,” that is, if I know you. Let’s be real-we do live in a “tossed salad” society where many do not celebrate the Christian holidays. Is not Hanukkah just as important to our Jewish friends? I will not get into a debate with anyone on the politically correct way to address the “holidays.”

So how was your Thanksgiving? It can be a sad time for some this time of year. Some have very little family and there are those who have strained relationships with their family. People find a way to get together if they really want to, whether it is a “holiday” or not. It just so happens that many people jointly have that day off. I can remember a time when hardly anything was open on Thanksgiving day except for maybe a grocery store or two until noon. One better make sure that they had all they needed for the “fixins” or they were out of luck!

Times have really changed. I guess every generation says that because nothing every stays the same. Would you really want it to? What about this? (photo credit-not mine)typing-class

I had typing 1,2, & 3 in high school and it is one of the things that has served me well in life. At my best (back then) I could type 90 words a minute, accurately. For some odd reason, they made us take a test on the old peck away typewriter. I flunked that test! The rest of the time we were on big IBM typewriters like the ones in the photo. Now we have “text speak” and voice to text. I would argue that one still needs relatively decent typing skills for any level of higher education. I can’t imagine writing a scholarly paper without it.

I’m on the fence with texting. I think it is a great tool to convey messages when you are short on time or just need a yes/no answer or vague instructions on something. What I LOATHE is when someone wants to have a conversation that way. If that’s the case-JUST MAKE A DAMN PHONE CALL! Texting is just another way of depersonalizing a relationship (my opinion of course). PLUS the message can be so misconstrued. 7bed52aeba266517a8f66f6cc37df2bf

The wind is howling outside my window as I write this. Such a stark difference from yesterday when it was sunny and low 50s. It was November 26, and I was able to hang clothes outside to dry-you know, on a clothesline like at the top of this blog. It made me laugh and saddened me at the same time when a little neighbor boy asked me what that was as he pointed to it. I use it all the time in warm weather. I guess it is becoming as much of an antique as I am! There is nothing like the fresh smell of clothes that have been line dried.

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I long for the simpler things in life. It seems that many things have gotten so complicated. Technology is a great tool when used right. It is also a bane when it screws up. Software updates are often a complete headache. Communication gets all out of whack when that happens. One of the things they stressed when writing research papers in nursing school was to “save and save often.” This was in case of a glitch so one’s hard work would not be lost.

Life is kind of like that. Life gets busy and complicated (many times by our own doing). We lose contact with those whom we are suppose to be close to. The software doesn’t get updated and things get all out of whack. The antiques are replaced and forgotten by the newer versions. Relationships aren’t saved and opportunities for memories are lost forever.

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One thing I’ve learned since turning a half century old is that experience is not just the best, but the ONLY teacher in much of life. Those who come after will have to learn that lesson too. I am what I am. Love me or hate me, I am the same with everyone. I will not treat anyone differently if I see them at a regular function or out in public when “important” people are around. I won’t put on a facade to impress people. What you see is what you get. I don’t/won’t apologize for that.

I like to run, and I like to talk about running. I also like to talk about history. If you like to knit, then knit. Whether it’s cooking, bowling, fishing, crafting, biking, mountain climbing, sewing, woodworking, weight lifting, whatever-do it and talk about it! Lord knows we are all SICK to death of politics. Post pictures, brag a little, share your story. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just be sure you are showing the same respect to others. Respect is a lost art. Imagine what the work place would look like if everyone truly respected each other and had good attitudes. Wow-Utopia!

The next few weeks will go quickly and Christmas will be here. It is the holiday that I celebrate. Then there will be the New Year and all the quirky resolutions. So to that end I will say, “Happy Holidays & a Wonderful New Year!” Now go out and make some memories and “save and save often!”

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Hope you haven’t been REALLY BAD!

Have a great December,

Stephanie

 

Ten Reasons Why Thanksgiving is My Favorite Holiday

Today is November 15, 2017-eight days until Thanksgiving. Here is an impromptu list of why this is my favorite holiday:

Halloween Is Over. Sure it’s a cute “holiday,” but really isn’t a holiday as no one gets to take off work. No work days are ALWAYS holidays. As a nurse this is even more true. A day off in my world is a license to eat and rest and do whatever the heck I want! Even if that means eating left over Halloween candy.

The Election is Over. You’re probably wondering why this is in the number nine slot.Let’s face it-it was more entertaining than all of the Halloween costumes and fanfare. Some have yet to shed their devil horns though, and there are still clowns out on the streets behaving like pre-schoolers in a Toys R Us when their favorite toy has sold out.

It is Less Humid. For those whom this does not apply, look away. Heat is one thng, humidity is another, especially if you are a runner.

Nature is At It’s Most Beautiful. Let’s face it, Spring is pretty when things start to bloom out, but the weather is fickle and at times drizzly, and dreary and such. The colors of fall-Ah, God’s paintbrush at it’s finest!  _20161115_132519

 People Seem Nicer. To me, Thanksgiving marks the official start of the holiday season. Christmas lights come on, greedy sales start, and people are generally a little nicer contemplating getting their “feast” on. Happy bellies= happy people, or maybe they just pass out from eating too much and have no energy to be mean.

It’s Not About Shopping. Speaking of greedy sales- have you ever heard of a pre-Thanksgiving sale that starts say, in July? No, everything starts the eve of Thanksgiving to get ready for the “gimmies.”  You haven’t lived until you see a couple of women fight over a pair of $7.OO jeans. Does that happen with frozen turkeys? I think not! It’s the only major holiday not dependent on huge sales.

The Hungry Are Fed. People are generally more philanthropic. You don’t know what that means? Look it up. Suffice it to say, there are those who genuinely CARE that people get fed-the homeless, the shut-ins. It’s giving based on the basic human need of hunger & need, not the greediness of want.

Togetherness.It’s the only major holiday where people actually get together because they want to. Think about it-you can eat any time, anywhere. Although there are those who just “make an appearance,” and eat and run, people are at least forced to sit and stare at each other over mashed potatoes and gravy for an indeterminate amount of time.

The Mayflower

Memories. And my number one reason for preferring Thanksgiving over all others is because of the memories it brings to mind. I remember as a kid going to my grandmother’s house and stuffing myself silly and having “big belly” contests with my brother. Christmas seemed a long way off and everyone seemed to like each other. It became even more meaningful after having kids and starting traditions like baking sugar cookies. The smell of turkey and pumpkin pie & eating leftovers the next day-priceless!

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Son Ryan, 1990

The world is certainly a different place, or so it seems to me. Maybe we would all do better to look at things through the eyes of a child again, and make a wish while snapping a wishbone.

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Talk at ya later!

Stephanie

 

P.S. My legs are hungover from many weeks of racing…in case you wondered.

 

The Glass Half Full

Life Begins When You Let It

Well now-it has been well over a month since I last attempted a blog post. Sometimes my brain gets so overloaded with ideas that it is easier to do nothing until something stirring happens. I have plenty of races to blog about, but for sake of time, I will condense those at a later date (and eventually get back to living in the present while reflecting on the past).

Today is Halloween by the date on our Gregorian calendar. I won’t get off on a tangent about the history of the “holiday” as much as I’d like too. I will just say that people sometimes major in the minors about the “to celebrate or not” as it implies to the “pagan” background More importantly, I returned home today from a four day trip to Washington, DC. Annie the orphan pup was glad to be home from the sitter &…

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The Glass Half Full

Well now-it has been well over a month since I last attempted a blog post. Sometimes my brain gets so overloaded with ideas that it is easier to do nothing until something stirring happens. I have plenty of races to blog about, but for sake of time, I will condense those at a later date (and eventually get back to living in the present while reflecting on the past).

Today is Halloween by the date on our Gregorian calendar. I won’t get off on a tangent about the history of the “holiday” as much as I’d like too. I will just say that people sometimes major in the minors about the “to celebrate or not” as it implies to the “pagan” background More importantly, I returned home today from a four day trip to Washington, DC. Annie the orphan pup was glad to be home from the sitter & appropriately did her “Franken Annie” impersonation in her sleep.

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Franken Annie

Why was I in DC? Glad you asked. Last late winter/early Spring (I can’t remember exactly when, I’ve slept since then), I entered the lottery to run the Marine Corps Marathon & actually got in. My fall marathon was planned. After the horrible experience I had at Grandma’s Marathon in June, I almost regretted having to train for another one occurring just four short months later. Since this was a bucket list marathon, I trudged away with hot, humid, summer runs.

This is not a race recap. You can find plenty of those on other sights. After all, this was the 41st running of MCM. I am not a race director, nor do I aspire to be. MCM was my tenth marathon-not really that many by hardcore marathoner standards. What I do know is this-everyone has an opinion, and everyone is different in their likes/dislikes of particular races from course layout to crowd support, to aid stations, to…you name it. To run out of water at a race is unacceptable (which they did not, but I have been to others that did). I personally think that chocolate milk should be a standard offering post race at EVERY race, but that’s just me. Not being a race director does not numb me to the fact that all races entail a great deal of planning/preparation, especially one of that magnitude.

Some of the complaints I heard online and at the Hotel I was staying at afterwards were as follows: Too hot (as if the weather can be controlled), too many out & backs, too many times around the Pentagon parking lot, course was a bit longer than 26.2, not enough showcasing of DC, expo too far away, no finisher blankets, blah, blah, blah. One person even said that she was going to write to the General. Good luck with that.

My point is this: Is your glass half empty or half full, whether in a marathon or any other aspect of life? Here is the mission statement from marinemarathon.com

“The mission of the Marine Corps Marathon is to promote physical fitness, generate community goodwill and showcase the organizational skills of the US Marine Corps.”

It goes on to tell how the Marines are actively involved in the planning & execution of this and other MCM events. Marines organizing every jot & tittle of a public running event. No prize money for the winner. It is “The Peoples’ Marathon.”

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Snipers On the Roof, Protecting All

The Bleacher Report said this:

“One of the nation’s largest & most popular marathons…provides an opportunity for members of the Marine Corps to come together and celebrate a special day for the armed forces.”

Did you catch that? “To celebrate a special day for the armed forces.” This was the 41st year. There was at least one older gentleman who had run all 41. A lot of our armed service personnel who are either active duty or retired, run it every year. Many others run it every year. So to be fair, I have no other years to compare it to since this was the first time that I have been privileged to run it. For the complainers in the hotel, it was their first time as well.

My perspective: This was my 2nd trip to DC. The last time I was there was 2009, and things have changed somewhat. I have lots of photos from previous trip of all of the monuments and other touristy stuff, so I didn’t repeat a lot of those photos. The featured image says it all. I will always visit Arlington National Cemetery. So I will start there.

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At the start of the race, the headstones are visible to the left. “Thank you fallen service members.” If it weren’t for those somber graves, there would be no freedom to run marathons. Since it was Halloween weekend, many runners wore various costumes. One runner wore a Yeti costume with full head gear the whole time. That had to be miserably hot. Moreover, there were the photos/names of the fallen, the fighting, and the wounded pinned to many shirts. There was a firefighter who ran the entire race in full gear in honor of an armed service person. Many active duty ran in full uniform with packs on their backs. Many carried American flags. “Thank you active duty.” Many wounded veterans ran whether with prosthetic leg or via wheelchair. “Thank you wounded warrior.”mcm-start

Then came the “blue mile.” From mile 10 to 11, photos of the fallen with family members standing by some, others holding the American flag. Besides the foot falls, there was silence, then faint sobbing. It was hard to breathe right and run that mile. Once again, “Thank you fallen warriors & bless the families that you left behind.”

Starting at the expo to the finish line, there were Marines helping, serving. No greater honor than to have one of them put the medal around my neck. Those who have sacrificed so much to be there for me, a small town Missouri runner. Those in the grave, who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I might be free. What do I have to complain about this race?

The miles really just flew by. Legs were a little weary by mile 22, but Marines were there to encourage. It was a very special day. My time? Meh, it wasn’t about the time. I will always cherish this medal above all others for what it symbolizes. I will always salute the flag of the United States of America whose colors never run, birthed with the blood spilled by many. I will always thank God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son for this great country and for the men & women who serve it’s armed forces.

Thank you United States Marine Corps for a job well done. My cup runneth over. #missionaccomplished

In Your Honor

Unselfishly, you left your fathers and your mothers,

You left behind your sisters and your brothers.

Leaving your beloved children and wives,

You put on hold your dreams, your lives.

On foreign soil, you found yourself planted,

To fight for those whose freedom you granted.

Without your sacrifice their cause would be lost,

But you carried onward, no matter the cost.

Many horrors you have endured and seen.

Many faces have haunted your dreams.

You cheered as your enemies littered the ground.

You cried as your brothers fell all around.

When it was over, you all came back home.

Some were left with memories to face all alone.

Some found themselves in the company of friends,

As their crosses cast shadows across the land.

Those who survived were forever scarred emotionally, physically,

Permanently marred.

Those who did not, now sleep eternally

‘Neath the ground they had given their lives

To keep free.

With hand upon my heart, I feel the pride & respect;

My reverence is revealed in the tears

That now stream down my upturned face,

As our flag waves above you in her glory & grace.

Freedom was the gift that you unselfishly gave.

Pain & death was the price that you ultimately paid.

Every day, I give my utmost admiration

To those who have fought

To defend our nation.

-Author unknown

Is your cup half empty or half full?

Until next time,

Stephanie

 

 

This Crazy Life

Eventually I will get back to “Living in the Present While Reflecting on the Past.” Ideas flow through my brain like marbles down a staircase. Sometimes it’s not pretty. Although, I think marbles are pretty. Most of them anyway.

I’m a feeler. You know the type-we like to FEEL things! I guess I have always learned about my world this way. The squishy feeling of play-doh, the cool grass on bare feet (except when you step in dog poop-yuck-squishes between your toes)! The feeling of the wind on my face, soft puppy fur, a cool shower after a run or working out in the yard.

I have always been a hair twister. Nervous habit maybe. It somehow is comforting. Some people smoke, some people twirl hair. Don’t judge me!!! Whatever it takes to calm the soul. Running calms my soul. Music calms my soul as well. Music is the universal language.

Have you ever been so down on yourself to the point of being disgusted? I have. I think being a mother is the most challenging, frustrating, rewarding thing in life. Yet-when you are a “feeler,” your soul doesn’t let you forget. A mother holds things in her heart forever-the good, the bad, the great, the sad. Things that she wished she could go back and change, yet she knows that life is not that way, and that she did the best that she could with the circumstances at hand at the time.

Mental pain-it is a real thing. It is much worse than physical pain. Physical pain eventually comes to an end-unless it is a chronic physical pain that you just get used to . I think this is why I have such a high pain tolerance. Physical pain is nothing compared to some of the mental anguish that I have been through. I think that is somewhat of  a good thing. It helps me get through life-this crazy life. And sometimes I feel like Bat Woman.

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What I think I look like running

Hope to see you out on the roads or trails,

Stephanie

“The Butterfly” (An original poem)

We met on the trail,

The old lady and I,

There was a cool, gentle breeze

As she admired

A beautiful butterfly.

 

“So peaceful,” she said, “I love it out here.”

“So free,” I said, and we drew near

To take a closer look

At the butterfly.

 

The sky was so clear

With clouds gently

Floating way up high.

 

Here we stood

This old lady and I,

Totally enthralled with this

Delicate butterfly

That had brought us together

On a warm September day.

We may not have spoken

Any other way.

 

We gazed and marveled

A few seconds longer,

The old lady and I.

Then she went her way,

And I went mine.

 

Life is uncertain and crazy,

A complete mystery at times.

Even when one’s family

May be so full of pride

That we don’t speak anymore,

Not even a “hi.”

 

But God sent a reminder

That I matter,

And I’m the “apple of His eye”

When an old lady spoke to me

Through a late summer

Butterfly. (c)

 

Hope to see you out on the roads or trails,

Stephanie

 

 

Living in the Present; Reflecting on the Past (Part I)

Today was a day of firsts for many, in my town at least. It was the first day back to school after summer vacation. What??? Wait a minute. The calendar still says August and the thermometer is registering 90 degrees. In fact, I cut my planned seven mile run down to four today because I didn’t get out until 1:00 p.m. I truly do not understand the concept of starting school this early. What ever happened to starting the day after Labor Day?

Ah, the ponderables of life! I don’t know when the powers that be decided to start school in the middle of August, but for the record, I think it is ridiculous (Disclaimer: this is MY blog, with MY opinions. If you do not like what I say that is fine. Leave a comment and frankly my dear, I do NOT give one good DAMN)!

Okay, now that that is off my chest, let’s move on shall we? After seeing all the facebook posts of others’ back to school photos, I am SO thankful that that period of my life is over. It was fine at the time, because that was the season of life that I was in, but I do not miss it one iota! Thankfully, my kids are all grown and married. I have had an “empty nest” for quite some time. It is the natural flow of things.

I remember my first day of kindergarten. I DID NOT want to be there. I remember screaming and crying when my mom left. It was SO different than what kids experience now. It was in a little building called “Washington School.” Only kindergarten was held there. It was my first real social experience.

I can only recall a few things that happened there, like the boy eating the string when we were playing some game with marshmallows, and of course, the dreaded “nap time” on the mats. I always got in trouble for fidgeting and giggling. Such a concept, kindergarten.

At any rate, summer IS winding down. School starting at crazy times or not, some things never change and are not controlled my mankind. Take for instance this little guy:_20160816_201453

I say “guy” because it is the male that makes the loud shrill droning noise. “He” got in my house and was very noisy! He was whisked out and I found him dead the next day out in the yard (it is an educated guess that it was him). That familiar noise of the cicada in this part of the good old U.S.A. is a familiar sound of the end of summer. I always thought they were cute little creatures. Those big old eyes had me at “hello!”

It got me to reflecting on other aspects of summer as a kid. I don’t mind extremely hot weather that much because I didn’t grow up with an air conditioner for a good portion of my childhood. When we did get it, it was a window unit that froze the room it was in, but the bedrooms were still relatively hot. What was central air? Fans were put in the hallway to try to blow the cooler air to the bedrooms. Being overly hot and going indoors was a real treat. I spent most of my time outdoors riding my bike, going on adventures in the woods, going to the pool, playing in the hose, catching snakes and toads, or just hanging out. It was the best of times. Then when the frigid window unit made me too cold, I would go back outside to get warmed up!

Drive In movies were always a fun summer thing to do. My mom would pop big paper grocery sacks full of popcorn, load up the neighborhood kids, and we’d all go to the drive in. My mom made sure we had a fun childhood to the best of her ability, even though she worked full time.

I think about my parents a lot and how they have affected my life. My mother was 20 years old when she married my dad on his 30th birthday. Ironically, I married the first time at 20 and my daughter recently got married at age 20. The apples don’t fall too far from the trees evidently. My mother gave me her wedding dress from 1958  and I have had their cake topper for many years.

I look at these two people and wonder what they saw in each other. I heard so many stories growing up from my paternal grandmother (who was my primary babysitter), but I was a child. I know that my dad was married once before, very briefly. My childhood was pretty turbulent. Though I love these two people very much, their legacy lives on in their children-some good, some bad. It is by trying to make sense of the past that I am trying to make sense of the present.

Come on this journey with me, won’t you? Maybe you can add to the tapestry that weaves itself together in this thing called life. Maybe we aren’t so different. Maybe we can learn from each other. I hope so.

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I have 7 weekends of racing starting this weekend. Hope to see you out on the roads or trails!

Stephanie

Breaking Out Again (of this rut I’m in)

May  I be painfully honest? I have really not felt like running since Grandma’s Marathon on 6/18/16. In fact, I’ve really not felt like doing much of anything-except sleeping! It’s summer for goodness sake, what’s WRONG with me???

I tend to internalize crap that I shouldn’t. Like having a crappy race experience when I know I am capable of so much better! Oh there are other things like not hearing from my kids for weeks, worrying about my mother’s health, and thinking about the project I need to get done for work. Some things are out of my hands, this I realize. Other things, like knowing I should be training more (or better) are completely in my control!untitled (89)

I refuse to blame it on age, because I have always believed that age is a number. We get out of anything what we put into it. I know 90 year old people that have more energy and spunk than a lot of 40 year olds (and younger). I am definitely not a lazy person, but I have discovered that I am definitely one who gets bored easily. I thrive under pressure. I am always looking for that new experience and adventure.

I have never followed just ONE running plan. I tend to glean from a few different ones and adjust them to my schedule. I also admit, that as a nurse on my feet for 12 hours for 2 days in a row completely drains me mentally and physically. Running is usually my outlet, but then again, I have been in a rut of sorts.

So I decided that I needed something more. I need accountability to help me get through the rough spots. So once again, I hired a trainer to get me to the finish line of my next marathon pain free and under 4 hours. The last time I did this was early 2014 before my first Boston qualifier. It’s so easy to get lax when one doesn’t have someone pushing them and expecting more out of them. PLUS, when I have spent the $, I expect to get my money’s worth! It is definitely no quick fix. I MUST put in the work!

Variety is the key. I love being around people who are constantly trying to better themselves and do not accept mediocrity. The dumbing down of our society as a whole is so frustrating! I have mentioned before that I am SO thankful for the high school teachers who pushed me and didn’t let me get away with less than my best! I will forever be grateful for my college prep teacher who instilled in me a HUGE vocabulary!

So once again, discipline is key. July first will be the start of my training for the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. No more rest days when I need to be training. No more talking myself into less miles than I should be running. I need to “get out of my head” and be a little selfish with my time.

Would I like my kids to visit/contact me more? Certainly! Would I like for my mother to be completely healthy? Of course! But those are two things that are completely out of my control. What is in my control is the goals I have for myself and the steps it takes to get there. That means core work every day even when I’m sore and running when I don’t feel like it! 049c711c262d57cf3909b8a1cfa92bb7

Everyone experiences low spots in life, it is the human experience. Realizing that  you are not alone is a major step to breaking out of ruts, no matter what it may be. Maybe it’s not running. Maybe it’s life in general. The news media certainly doesn’t help with making our world a cheery place. Depression is real. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is treatable, and you are not alone. You are not a weirdo or a freak of society.

This month marks 7 years that someone I was close to chose to take her life. She is missed every day and her contribution to society is forever gone. It doesn’t have to be this way. Reach out-there are people who truly care and can help you through this rough spot.

Sometimes we can get so down on ourselves that we can’t see the beauty of our lives for what it really is. ALL lives matter. Whatever you’re going through, don’t let it defeat you!

“I choose to be strong by being soft and pliable rather than inflexible, brittle, and hard.”–Affirmation by Wayne Dyer from Living the Wisdom of the Tao, verse 76

Hope to see you out on the road or trails!

Stephanie

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

 

 

Oh the Agony of da Heat & da Knees!

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Catchy title eh? It should more appropriately be called, “A Tale of Two Cities” but I think that was already claimed by Dickens & it was set in London & Paris before the French Revolution. I could have called it, “Three Strikes You’re Out,” (appropriate since it’s baseball season), or I could just lay it all out there in Stephanie style and tell you how I see it.

This is of course, my experience with running Grandma’s Marathon 2016, which just so happened to be it’s 40th anniversary. Anniversaries are lovely things, but that is fodder for another blog. Note the featured image. It was 64 degrees and overcast the day I arrived in Duluth, Minnesota. I was thankful that I had seen fit to bring my long compression pants as rain was in the forecast for race day (they weren’t needed after all).

The Expo: It intrigues me to experience different cities/marathons and their expos. Having just experienced Hospital Hill in KC, for the umpteenth time, it was quite the contrast (as much as the cool temps from the upper 90s in KC)! It was held in the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center or DECC. One had to go through most of the vendors to get to the packet pick up area. That was fine, as I got to sample some wonderful coffee-“Arco” brand that I made sure to purchase at a local grocery store and bring home. The “problem” as I saw it was that it was way too congested. I thought Twin Cities was asses & elbows, but this was much worse! I like to shop at expos and tend to spend too much money, but I couldn’t seem to think of a thing that I needed at this one! I picked up  my bib/packet without much fanfare, got my freebies, and left.

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On to locate the Motel. Duluth is beautiful by the way, and if you have a chance to visit, I would highly recommend it! I should mention at this juncture, that the whole premise of running this marathon was camaraderie with some of my fellow running group rock stars. I would have liked to have gotten a New York qualifying time, but I wasn’t training for it in particular. I was mostly “along for the ride.” Having said that, the “group” which arrived in various fashion-planes, trains, & cars (ok, maybe not trains), were planning on having dinner together at a pizzeria just across the state line in Wisconsin.

Nutrition & Fueling: I have learned through the years, that I cannot eat past 4pm before race day & expect good outcomes. Since the group was meeting at 5:30pm, that meant that eating would most likely commence a little after 6pm & not end before 6:30pm or 7pm. Not a good plan for me. I was in bed by 8pm.

Race Day: 0300 alarm, out the door by 0530 and just in time for shuttle bus to the start at Two Harbors by 0545. It was 33 miles to the start from the motel. The course ran along Lake Superior, ending in Duluth. My group had boasted that this was a “flat” course, with one hill toward the end. I beg to differ. To me, it was like 24 miles of Rockhill Road in Kansas City. There were a few downhills, but not many. I was just pleased as a peacock that it was not raining and that the temp was 70ish to start. Still a far cry from the 90’s in KC.

My people showed up group by group, depending on where they stayed. It was a great sight to see the orange finally arrive! A quick photo and we all headed to our respective corrals (if you could call it that). Supposedly, 9600 people were registered to run the full marathon. I had no plan, other than to hover from the 3:45 to the 3:55 pacers.

I should have hit the porta-potty the final time before the start, but I didn’t, lying to myself that the urge would pass. It didn’t. Thankfully, there were the familiar blue vertical rectangles along the route before even hitting a mile. I had to stop, knowing I would be thinking about it the entire time and not doing my best.

That taken care of, I tried to make up time by sprinting-never a good idea at the start of a race, especially on what appeared to be mostly uphill! I caught a glimpse of one of the running group girls, caught up to her & we chatted for a bit. There was a random runner (female) with some odd coin type skirt thingy over her shorts that kept “jingling.” I can’t tell you how much I wanted to rip that thing off of her! How freaking annoying! By mile 4-5, I took in my first GU and my first Saltstick cap by mile 6. I was feeling actually pretty good and on my normal pace.

It was great to have volunteers handing out cups of ice, because the temps were starting to increase. By the halfway point, I was at around a 2:04 and was starting to feel a bit fatigued. Fatigue and heat I can handle, but what was about to come, I could not.

I started to feel a little niggle in my right knee around mile 16. “Crap,” I thought. “Maybe it will just go away.” I was hitting every water station and walking through them. It wasn’t cramps, but the old IT band from many months ago, laughing at me. Another girl from the group showed up at one point and we ran some together until she needed the porta-potty. She caught up to me and passed me as I needed to hit the johnny room again (so much for nutrition planning)!

Nothing smells quite as horrific as a porta-potty on a hot day in June, especially when one is having digestive problems and feeling some queasy. At that point, I decided that I just did not care about time anymore and I just wanted to finish. I could handle this-two 10ks & I had it whooped! By mile 19, the wheels fell completely off as BOTH knees were crapping out and I decided at that point that I was just going to have fun and get through the final 7.2 miles any way that I could. So I started taking pictures.PhotoGrid_1466433879970

It was after all, a beautiful course. I made sure to get in some photo ops with the locals, Elvis seemed to be popular :PhotoGrid_1466433694350I think it’s around mile 22 that Scenic Hwy 61 crosses over into Duluth. All I know is that I was going to capture this monumental moment. Every time I saw the “First Aid/Dropout” signs, it was oh so tempting!!! Ok-only 4.2 miles to go! My knees were screaming. I tore my sweat rags and tied them around both knees. I was hot, nauseated, and hurting. So thankful for the people along the way who graciously sprayed us!

A fellow runner, who ironically was having IT band problems as well, offered to take my pic in the sprayer. Runners are so awesome! It wasn’t long after this when a couple more from my group passed me & were aiming for a PR. I tried to stay with them but the knees said, “no way!” I then employed the 1 min run/30 sec walk routine. This worked for awhile. Finally mile 23. There was a guy with a beer bong, and boy was it tempting! Anything to numb the pain!PhotoGrid_1466433559856

“Only” a 5k to go! As any marathoner knows, the last 5k is mostly mental-especially on a good running day. I just kept thinking, “Okay, I can walk 10 min miles and be done with this beast in a little over 30 minutes.” I didn’t even notice the hazard signs that had gone up.

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Photo credit: Runner’s Edge

“Full steam ahead!” I only wished. The same girl from early on caught up with me again and another whom I thought had long passed me. We had about 1.5 miles to go and I thought I could finish with them, but the last little downhill on the brick road was too much for the knees and I had to walk once again. My time between miles 25 & 26 was 15 minutes. I told myself I would at least run (hobble?) the last .2. I just wanted to be done and get that damn medal!

I did finish in 4:50:45-my third worst finishing time ever in my 9th marathon! The first was KC Marathon in 2011 at 5:17:56, followed by Route 66, 2013 in Oklahoma at 5:04:37. All three times (three strikes) were a result of IT band flares. I have no one to blame but myself.

Two tales (in pics) of beginnings and endings:

What Went Wrong & What I Learned: Every run-race or otherwise, should be a learning experience. Yes, it was hot & humid and is estimated that over 2000 people dropped out. No, the course was not what I expected. I never look at a course prior to a race. But I had just done Hospital Hill for goodness sakes! As I reviewed my Garmin, I had a  pretty good race up until mile 13-16. Heat has never really been an issue for me. As a rule, I like hills. My problem was laziness. What???

Let me explain. Since I qualified for Boston for 2017 last fall at Twin Cities, I kind of let things slide. Especially after I got sick in March and had to forfeit the 100 miler I signed up for. I have taken a LOT of rest days, and not pushed myself like I know I should have. As I said before, I really did not have a goal time per say for this race, but somewhere between 4 and 4.5 hours would have been desirable. I am 10 pounds heavier than this time last year. True, a lot is muscle, but I have more around my middle than I like. For the past three years, I have been consistent with core work to strengthen my back, and hips. I have not done one lick of core work this year mostly because I find it totally BORING! I have weak hips, back, & glutes. I have work to do.ChZrZ5mWMAErX2T

Hopefully I will have a better report after the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. On the flip side, this was one of the funnest marathons I have ever participated in because I was there with my local running family. They are the best and I am so glad that our paths have crossed. They are some of the MOST hard working, dedicated people I have ever met & who NEVER give up! They truly made this a memorable weekend.

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

–Dean Karnazes

Hope to see you out on the roads or trails!

Stephanie

Next up: Stars & Stripes 5k on the 4th of July and taking on Psycho Summer 10 miler 7/23!

 

 

 

Running is Glamorous & Sweat is…

In case you missed it earlier!

Life Begins When You Let It

WordPress tells me that it has been 16 days since my last blog post so I thought I’d better get after it!

After contemplating the many issues plaguing the world, I could have written about a handful of them. Things like how I think political posts on social media are idiocy at it’s finest,  how debates about zoos, children, & gorillas are multitudinous, how swimming in alligator infested swamps at night is utter foolishness, or how those who believe the mainstream media are completely simpleminded (ranks right up there with the readers of the Enquirer), but that would take weeks. So instead I will focus on the glamorous residual effects of running-that is, how lovely it can be. (Disclaimer: I am not a poster child for the subject of this blog).

I don’t know how they do it. “They” are the cutie patooties who still look as fresh & beautiful…

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