Split Personality

Today has been filled with last-minute things.  Packing.  Cooking.  Shopping.  Because, friends, we drive down to Portland tonight to go to the marathon after dinner tonight. Mom will watch our kids while Jonathon and I zip down I-5 and get settled in Bridgetown.

It’s two days away. Gulp.

So I alternate between feeling like this

Or  this

Only with pants on. I hope I’m not driving my family crazy.  I get these hits of adrenalin.  Then I’m very tired.  Then I’m happy.  Then I’m grumpy.  Is this “the change”, or just race jitters?  Dunno.

Talked to my dad today.  He thought I was doing some kind of running relay.  Um…no.  It’s a full marathon, the 26.2.  He gaped.  Yeah.  That’s about the size of it.

I did my last easy run today, the very last prep.  Now, the carbo loading!  It’s been a mental battle to keep positive and believe I can do it.  I have to stay there, or the race will eat me alive.

Sigh. I hate waiting.

Firsts

 

Everybody wants to be first.  First place gets the prize.  Gets the gold medal, the brass ring, the raise.  But what of the other finishers?  They get mentioned, their names pronounced incorrectly or spelled wrong.  They might get a little bit of cash.  Sometimes. What of them?

Saturday, I ran 18 miles for the first time.  I’ve run 18 miles and more over the course of a week before but never all in one shot. I have to go slow, but I will make it.  Thank God for audio books. I am ready now. 

Today, I drove to Seattle so my boss at the shelter and I could meet with the architects and a low bidder on the impending building project.  We talked about value engineering challenges and other possible outcomes for this project. This was the first time I’d ever driven to Seattle , or sat at the project table feeling more like an equal than a lackey.  I had some questions and some input on the project.  And it was a sunny day, with no traffic!  Woot!  It felt really good.

Sometimes, it’s enough to be open to a first. Yesterday, I started to think anew about the vision for my life, for our lives. I’ve been so focused on the one thing I thought I was supposed to be doing I missed thinking new thoughts about what I could be.  It’s time to lay down the old and pick up the new. We prayed and sought God.  What are the possibilities, Lord?  Cause right now I can’t see them. I am open to a first here.

Our firsts help us to get to the next thing.  We may not always win the race or get the enormous fake check.  Sometimes, it’s enough just to do something.  It was enough for me to take notes at the first PAC.  My employer there expects better notes from me each time because my skill and ability grow with each conference.

Firsts build confidence building blocks we stack to negotiate to our next goal. They can be extremely critical, like potty training or telling time.  Still working on that last one with the kids…

I realize I will not win the marathon. I’m not fast enough; nor am I fast enough to qualify for Boston.  I probably won’t place in my age bracket, old as I am!  And yet now, I feel prepared to do it. Firsts have a little thrill attached to them, too, and a sense of accomplishment.  That’s their real prize, whether you or not you garner any recognition. After today, I know I can get to Seattle without playing bumper cards on the freeway or getting lost in a sea of one-way streets.  And I can’t wait to hear God’s voice for this new “first” of purpose.

Motivation

Sleep running…

I haven’t had much motivation to run lately.  Okay, this week.  I haven’t gotten out of bed early to cram some miles in any day this week.  It’s like my body just wants some time off the grueling routine of training. I’ve been cosy in my bed or on the couch, snuggled in blankets, Rex as my footrest.  I’m in the home stretch as far as marathon prep goes, but my drive to finish is waning. The marathon is only 26 days away.  Eek!

The weather is still sunny, although mornings are in the high 30s/low 40s for temps.  It’s dry.  Humidity is low. I think…I just want to play.  The kids are back in school.  I want to go places by myself and explore.  I want to not do chores and do creative things. However, grownup responsibilities intrude.  Sigh.

I stopped for a few minutes to pray for some get-up-and-go and let the sun warm me, beaming in through the family room window.  Rex slumbered on, anchoring his corner of the couch with his solid furry blackness.  The refrigerator hummed.  Suddenly, the desire to run – and create my own personal recess – came as I waited.

I got out today and ran about 3 miles.  The sun shone down and the air was cool and breezy.  I spied  a friend while running down the hill, another great perk of living in a small town.  Her conversation encouraged me. Fall is thisclose.  It’s great running weather, all golden sunshine and changing leaves. And after a few minutes, I was glad I left the house.  Motivation and encouragement is all around me, if I’ll only take the time to look.

Note to self:  Remember this.

The Dream

Yesterday, I registered for the Portland Marathon.  I realize I hadn’t mentioned what I was training for, but I didn’t want to state anything official until I got into the event. 

This will be my first marathon. I’ve done 4 half marathons, so technically cumulatively  I guess I’ve done 2 marathons!  Seriously, though, I am nervous and I will do everything in my power to train well for it.  I’ve found that the mental toughness is even more important than the physical endurance.  If you believe you cannot go another step, you’re right.  If you believe you’ve enough steam to finish the 26.2, you’re right.  It’s the great paradox of the old Henry Ford quote: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

Gulp.

I started training for it 2 months ago.  I found a plan in Runner’s World magazine.  After I’d been doing it for a couple of weeks, I discovered it was for people who wanted to *improve* their previous marathon times.  Gads!  It was not a plan for newbies.  I kinda fall in a weird category of intermediate-beginner.  I am not starting out from the very beginning – like couch-sitting – but neither am I a veteran marathoner.  So…I kept on.  Some weeks have been harder and I haven’t gotten all the mileage in.  I ran in Hawaii most days and did my first long run of 11 miles there, in the humidity and the presence of chickens. 

I think I’ll keep going and see where it leads.  I’m learning to enjoy the journey of this trip.  My only goal for the marathon is to finish, though qualifying for Boston would be an added bonus.  The real goal is to finish well; that’s my milestone. That’s my true reward. Proverbs 13:12 says: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. This is my dream.

What’s your dream, and are you going after it?

Fiery Feet

The culprits.

Today, I planned to run 16 miles.

My feet had other plans.

I purchased new running shoes on Thursday.  I’d been a fan of Asics for several years.  They’re the brand I usually buy.  They have a good amount of support and cushioning, as long as I also get inserts for the shoes.  I bought them from the same store each time.  Sometimes I even had the same salesperson.

This time, due to more rigorous training, I thought I’d go to A Running Shoe Store.  I felt like my need to get shoe advice from people who actually ran was greater than brand loyalty.  I tried on some Asics.  For the first time, they felt too cumbersome, too snug. Dare I say too safe? I longed to branch out and explore new possibilities. I tried on Saucony, a brand I hadn’t utilized since my 20s.  Nah.  The safety orange Adidas offended more than one sense.  Then I tried the Brooks Ghost Runner shoe.   They felt good.  I jogged around the store, on carpet and cement, to test them out. I was in love.

Did I mention they were on sale?  Yeah.  The shoes plus my requisite inserts made the total less than $70.  Score!  My amazing frugalista cousin would be so proud. Did I mention she’s a nationally known blogger?  Yeah.

I could hardly wait for today. I tried them for the first time today on my long run.  The first few miles were like air.  They clicked by on the treadmill.  Then I got to mile 6.  Hmm…my toes were starting to rub together.  This is not a new problem.  I usually bandage one of them to cut down on friction.  I forgot to do it today. 

Long about mile 7, the bottoms of my feet started to feel raw.  Keep in mind I was wearing the socks I normally wear.  The only new part of this routine were the shoes.  I powered through mile 8.  Then the pain started to escalate.  My feet felt like they were on fire, and not in a good way.  My plan was to do 12 miles on the treadmill and do the last 4 outside.  I started to realize I was not going to be able to do that.

The treadmills at my athletic club face east, which means you get to see beautiful sunrises. It also means you get the sun in your eyes pretty early in the morning, too.  The sun was right in my face as I finished mile 10.  I headed outside, wondering if a change of running surface would help.

Nope.  My feet practically wept inside my shoes.  Recalling a messy exploding blister during my last half marathon, I knew I needed to pack it in. Sighing, I got in my car and drove home. Perhaps I could change into my old shoes and new socks and salvage the last 6 miles in my neighborhood.

Nope again.  My feet appreciated the dry socks and more supportive shoes but were unwilling to cooperate with more pounding.  I hobbled home on hamburger feet. I headed inside to stretch and clean up and refuel.

Am I disappointed?  Yes.  I can use the Brooks for shorter training runs.   They’re lightweight yet sturdy enough for that. The shoes themselves are fine for runners with tougher feet. No slam on Brooks here.  I’ll need to piece together some of my old running shoes with new inserts for longer runs until I can afford to get new Asics again. 

Am I giving up?  No way.  I know this is in me.  It’s a temporary setback.  I learned that it’s okay to stay with what works for you.  In fact, you need to find what works and consider yourself blessed if you have found it.  The newest model isn’t always the best. It’s still okay to look around and visit new options.  It’s also good to come back to what you know.

I think there’s a spiritual application here as well.  I know a lot of people checking out other churches, other religions.  But where have you found peace?  Where have you found truth?  Come home to what you know. Safe and dependable – possibly viewed as boring by others – will get you through the marathon called life. You can finish well, despite any setbacks. God is faithful.

FAQs

No flowers were harmed in the making of this blog.

I thought maybe it was time to answer a few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)that come to me from the readers.  Here they are, in no particular order.

Q:  Are you a midget?
A:  No.  But I played one on TV.

Q:  Would you like me to send you unsolicited advice? 
A:  No.  However, feel free to send dark chocolate.

Q:  If one train leave Pittsburgh at 3:00 on a Tuesday, going 45 mph in an easterly direction, and another train leaves Cleveland at 2:00 on that same Tuesday, going 30 mph in a westerly direction, when will they collide? 
A:  Who are these people?! I have no idea. Look at a map?  Or maybe take a plane, just to be safe.

Q:  If you were stuck on a deserted island with one book, one choice of food and one toy, what would they be? 
A:  Hmm…Okay.  The Bible.  Pepperoni, black olive and sausage pizza.  And a gun.  The pizza won’t last forever, right?

Q:  Do you have any pets? 
A:  Yep.  A pair of black cats and a black guinea pig.  We’re all about matching.

Q:  Were you a child prodigy? 
A:  (shuffles toe in dirt, hunches shoulders) Nope.  And I’m not an adult one, either.

Q:  Do you have any siblings? 
A:  I have a brother and two stepsisters. And there is no truth to the rumor that I used to beat my brother up on a regular basis.

Q: What’s on your “bucket list”? 
A:  Running (and finishing) a marathon, rhinoplasty, seeing all the “Love” series movies inspired by Janette Oke novels back-to-back.  Thank you, Hallmark Channel!

Q:  If you could go back in time and say one thing to your younger self, what would it be? 
A:   You will have boyfriends.  You will not get little white marks on your teeth from not brushing them every minute while you have braces.  Your voice matters. 

Q:  Does Jonathon have a job yet? 
A:  Hey, this is about me!  And no.  Not yet.

Q:  You love running.  What advice would you give to someone starting out? 
A:  Go slowly.  Walk a lot.  Run a little.  Amby Burfoot has a great book out on this subject.  Running is at least 80% mental.  If you think you can and you’re not in excruciating pain, you can.  Sometimes even if you are, you still can.  If you live close to me, maybe we can run together sometime.

Q: If you weren’t a Christian, what religion would you most align yourself with? 
A:  If I lived in an ancient culture, thousands of years ago, definitely a sun worshiper.  I need it!  Otherwise, probably something of my own concocting.  More interesting that way.  A little bit of this, a little bit of that…”Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble”..

Q:  What are the best and worst things about being a mother: 
A:  Wow, that’s a tough one!  The best thing is probably seeing your child grow and develop into the person they were meant to be, and to know you had a hand in that.  I love seeing the kids excel at things, get excited about activities or hobbies. Sometimes they’re things Jonathon or I like to do, too. I also enjoy seeing them handle tough situations with grace. The worst is when they’re hurt, either physically or emotionally, and you can do nothing to fix it except apply a band-aid either out of the box or of physical affection.

Q:  What are you most looking forward to for the rest of your life? 
A:  Staying married to Jonathon and growing old(er) together.  We need a porch swing!  Continuing to grow as an individual and discovering new possibilities in this life, new friendships and loving Jesus.  Watching the kids grow up and become parents themselves (God willing), and seeing them fulfill their destinies.  I want to suck the marrow out of life, every day.