About Me

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Runner. Nerd. Relentless reader and documentary watcher. Beer, vodka, and wine lover. Marathoner. Studier. Music Snob. Traveler. Chocolate lab owner.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I'm Almost a Marathoner!

As I begin to type this, it's 4 days, 8 hours, 33 minutes, and 54 seconds until my marathon.  My emotions are ranging between nervousness and terror.  As it draws near, I'm trying to win the mental battle, reminding myself that I CAN do this.  One of my coping mechanisms has been to think of all the things I've done that could be worse than running a marathon. I spent several months in a body cast, which I'm sure was terrible, but in all honesty, I remember none of it.  Here are a few examples of bad experiences with good payoffs that I do remember:

What sucked: Going to bed shit-faced at 1:30 a.m. and waking up at 4:00 a.m. to drive 2.5 hours home and work for 12 hours.  I remember thinking that day, "if I can survive this day, I can survive a marathon.  I'm only halfway through my day and I've never felt worse than I do right now."
Why it was worth it: My best friend's Grandma died and she needed me to be there.  She may not have needed us to each take down a bottle of wine, several beers, race in the pool, then go to the bar soaking wet in our pajamas.  On the other hand, that may have been exactly what she needed.

(I have a photo of this event, but it's so terrible that I will not share it)

What sucked: Spending a month of my summer days counting grass in the blazing heat of the prairie and spending the nights picking ticks off myself.
Why it was worth it: I got to meet a great group of new people, live in a cabin on Lake Okoboji in Iowa, and camp in the Badlands of Nebraska and the Black Hills of South Dakota, and explore Wind Cave.  I've never seen a more amazing star-scape than deep in the prairie reserves of Nebraska at Midnight.  Because of this class, I also got to graduate ahead of schedule.
Worth it for the experience...(yes, I do have sunglasses on my head and a headlamp around my neck)
...but no kidding, we were counting grass...

...and analyzing it in spreadsheets.  It was miserable.
What sucked: Taking an anatomy test at 8:00 am after going to bed at 3:30, drunk off my ass with the room spinning around me.  When I took the test, every line blurred together as I attempted to read it.
Why it was worth it: I got to sit in the green seats at the Cardinals game the night before.  For those that don't know, the green seats are the first few rows behind home plate.  Tickets to these seats allow you to have a free dinner and drinks beforehand, and a waiter to bring you anything you want (Budweiser, for the lady) in your seats during the game, free of charge.  Also, I got a B on that test.
You would have done it for these seats, too.
What sucked: My first half-marathon.  I set out with the 2:15 pace group, after 4 miles (3 of which were uphill), our pacer said, "oh shit, I'm running way too fast.  We're on pace to finish in 2 hours."  Not only did I burn out hard and fast, my boyfriend ran my exact same pace 15 feet in front of me for the entire race, but refused to run with me.  He said, "I can't run your pace, it's too slow."  Guess what, buddy?  You were running my pace, just choosing to do it just far enough ahead that I could always see you...dick.
Why it was worth it: Not only did I have the joy of finishing a half-marathon and beginning my life as a runner, but that day also cemented the fact that my boyfriend was a complete asshole, and empowered me enough to leave what was truly an abusive relationship.  BIG win.
My first race medal!
What sucked: Landing in Japan with no luggage, no hotel reservation, in Tokyo instead of Osaka, and our interpreter and friends were on the other side of the country.
Why it was worth it: We barely made our connection, so we were just happy to be in Japan.  Who cares if I hadn't brushed my hair in 3 days?  I had just started running a couple weeks before this.  Had I not been a runner, we would have never made the flight.  We sprinted through O'Hare, from one terminal to the next, just in time to reach our gate as the flight attendant was closing the door.  I'm not a fast runner, but we knew there was no chance our luggage was moving as fast as we were.
After nearly three days in the same clothes, I celebrated when my pack arrived.

For your enjoyment: Engrish

As long as you're happy.
I don't understand it beforehand.
What sucked: getting in a fight with a random old man at the farmer's market.
Why it was worth it: that asshole insulted my mother.  Only I am allowed to insult my mother.
This is my mom, a breast cancer survivor, who, at the time, was exactly one month away from her reconstructive surgery.
This is me and my older sister, and also the cause of the fight.  It went something like this:

Old man: Oh no.  No. No. No.  That's just wrong.
Me: Excuse me?
Old man:  That is so wrong.  I can't believe you. Mom's new rack?  Disgusting.  
(This old dude was up in my face, shaking his head)
Me: Ya know what?  This is my mother standing next to me, and she thinks it's hilarious, so that is all I care about.  Let me just say, the next time you get your balls cut off I bet you celebrate the day you get a new fucking set.  Carry on, sir.
(In all fairness, if I remembered I was wearing it, I might have taken it off to go anywhere besides the Race for the Cure.  However, if that old man was going to be a dick to us, I wasn't going to take it.)

What sucked: Canoeing and portaging through the Boundary Waters, a week after ice-out.  We woke up and our tents were covered in snow, and it rained ALL day, EVERY day, for a week.  We all went on a lichen and moss scavenger hunt to keep us moving through the woods, and prevent us from getting hypothermic.  The real kicker?  We were out there for 8 days, and I dropped my toothbrush in the mud on the very first day.
Why it was worth it: Aren't most outdoor experiences a fine and pleasant misery?  Backcountry camping is always a lot of work.  We had a couple small bouts of sunshine, but unforgettable memories nonetheless.  After freezing my ass off for 8 days, the cold shower and cold Moose Drool I had once we got out was absolutely worth it.

No joke, we were on a lichen scavenger hunt.
We survived under makeshift shelters.

This moment of tranquility made up for every second of misery.
Anytime I get to sleep on a rock, in sunshine, while covered in mud, I'm happy as hell.
What sucked: getting an hour and a half of drunken sleep on the floor of a casino hotel room, then working as a student ambassador at orientation the next day.
Why it was worth it: Jimmy fuckin Buffett.  That's why.
Yes, this is how my friends dress for Jimmy Buffett.

I was very tempted to end this post with "Jimmy fuckin Buffett.  That's why."  Humor has always been my coping mechanism.  Currently, it's a mix of humor and denial.  While I may be a better marathon drinker than marathon runner, I've worked hard for this.  The fact is, I'll do it, and it might suck, or it might not.  I doubt it will be as fun as Jimmy Buffett or the Green Seats, but either way, it will be worth it, and I promise to enjoy it as much as possible.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Absolutely, I Will

Like most things that I do, telling my friends my next blog post would be about my bad decisions seemed like a good idea at the time.  There are so many things that seem like a good idea at the time.  This is how I have ended up with some of the most amazing adventures and life-altering experiences.  This is also how I ended up in the ER on at least 15 different occasions (honestly, I’ve lost count).

You certainly do not want my advice as a runner.  I have absolutely no financial advice for you.  It would be most unwise to listen to almost anything I say in regards to your love life.  Regardless of what I am lacking, I do have one very good piece of advice that has led to me having one kick-ass life: It doesn’t matter what you say, just don’t say no. 

Your yes doesn’t have to come out as a resounding, enthusiastic “hell yeah!”  The point is that you don’t say no.  A reluctant, “I guess,” or a whiny “if you REALLY want me to” will suffice.  I’ve even been known to say, “damn you” while heading in the direction of whatever awesome ending awaits our questionable decision.  

Sometimes the end results merely with me exchanging eyeliner tips over bacon and eggs with a drag queen named Jackie in a 4 am diner (the trick is to put a light coat of sheer glitter over the purple).  Sometimes it ends with me packing my bags for a 6-week backpacking trip through Europe, sitting in the backseat of a car with Jack’s Mannequin, getting a kiss on the head from the President of the United States, partying in the all-inclusive seats at the Cards, Blues, or Rams game, or sharing champagne (which I brought in my purse) with fellow partiers on New Years in Tokyo.  Occiasionally, it ends with me saying, “well, that really was stupid.” 

In a perfect world-and I like to think that mine is-it ends with a good story and a stronger bond with someone, be it an old friend, random stranger, or a drag queen named Jackie.  That is, after all, why I always say yes.  I am not the slightest-bit interested in visiting a 24-hour bar only to end up sitting on a curb eating a corn dog at 6 am, even though it's been known to happen.  What I am interested in is being able to call my friend and say, “hey, remember that time we ended up lost at a random train station in Spain on our way to Morocco, sharing a bowl of mayonnaise?  I love us.”

If you need someone to go with you to a potentially awkward work happy hour, I’m your girl.  If you are looking for someone to take those really good Blues tickets off your hands on a weekday, I’m in (that is a hint, by the way.  I would love Blues tickets).  I will hop in the car and drive to Colorado, Minnesota, or Wisconsin for a concert tonight and drive right back if that’s what you really want.  I will also hold your hand while you make a dreaded phone call, help you build your shoe closet, let you stay the night any time you want, and sit right by you at the doctor’s office, if need be.  I have no problem with leaving the Cards game in a tornado to run across the street to a bar, and I will share my snuggie with you once we get there.  The answer is always yes.

Call it optimism, call it a sense of adventure, or call it bravery.  I don't even care if you call it stupidity, it's always treated me well.  Whatever it is, it’s how I ended up signing up for three marathons before I even finished my first.  If I hate my first marathon as much as I hated my first 5k or half marathon, then it will be a really hellacious day.  If I wouldn't have tried it again, I would have missed out on a lot.  I would not have ran more half marathons, participated in relays, or felt such a huge sense of accomplishment.  The real bonus is that I met some absolutely fantastic friends.  I am incredibly thankful for being part of a positive and supportive running community.

Again, call it what you want, but I’ve always been willing to try anything twice.  It’s only fair.  Think about how many things you would have missed out on had you never given it a second chance.

Speaking of trying anything twice, this post goes out to those crazy kids from Maine.  Not only did they convince me to visit twice next year, they convinced me to do it for two crazy-ass reasons: The 200-mile Reach the Beach Relay, and the obscenely hilly Mount Desert Island Marathon. They've also been hollerin' at me to make a new blog post for the past couple of weeks.  So here's to you guys, and all my other friends that are always giving me ideas to say yes to.

Bonus points to the first person to get the Title reference.