Half Marathon: Second Time Around

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My becoming a somewhat serious runner over the last year and a half has really shocked the hell out of my husband. 

Our conversations on this topic tend to go something like this:

Him: I just still can’t believe that YOU of all people, just told me you ran 10 miles today.

Me: Is that like a thickly-veiled compliment?

Him:  I mean…we’re talking about YOU!  You hate mornings and love pajamas and really don’t like being in a hurry to do anything.  I just can’t believe you are doing all this RUNNING…

Me:  Hmmm.  Interesting point.  Yes.  I do very much also enjoy my time as a “bathlete” (as my personal idol Glennon Doyle calls it), but I don’t know…I’m just pretty into running now.  It kind of makes me feel like a superhero. 

Friends.  If you would have told younger me I would be running 13 miles at any point in my life I would have probably responded like Aaron does now.  In 9th grade, I spent my first and last season on the high school basketball team because I HATED RUNNING SO MUCH.  And we only “ran” like 30 seconds at a time!!! 

I’ve always loved to WALK Green Lake, here in Seattle, and used to joke to my friends that I wanted to buy a “I will never run a marathon” t-shirt as sort of my own personal protest to all the runners and their souvenir t-shirts and 26.2 and 13.1 stickers.

Now those crazy people are my heroes! And I just want all their t-shirts.  I get a little starstruck talking to anyone who has run a bunch at this distance – let alone a full marathon or more. 

This morning I got to run my second half marathon with a couple of girlfriends.  We are all at different places in our running journey and it was just cool to see us there cheering each other on, yet each running mostly solo, doing “us.”  Or, as my friend Liana so aptly puts it, “Friends who run together find each other at the end of the race.”

Against my better judgment, I decided to make it my mission to “find” my super fast and accomplished runner friend Erica at the BEGINNING of this race.  We had taken off from the starting line (btw – my start could not have been clumsier – lip balm and Clif bloks flying everywhere from my unzipped and now moving waist pouch, as I fumbled with some stubborn apps on my phone – but no one was injured in my madness and eventually, off I was!) when I had the incredibly ill-advisesd idea to absolutely annihilate myself by running an 8:01 (!!) second mile in order to catch up with Erica, if only to say that we ran together for just a moment!

 SV HALF(This is super-runner, Erica.  She is the one I was chasing.)

Did I know that burning out in mile 2 was a very bad idea?  Why, yes.  Yes, I did.  In fact I talk about how incredibly important setting a sustainable pace early on is ALL THE TIME.  Did I do it anyway?  Yes.  Yes, I did.  After completing my first two miles like a bat out of hell at under 8:30/mile (for reference, my first half marathon I averaged 9:57/mile), shit kind of hit the fan. I made up for it with many miles over 9 minutes and one over 10.  I walked several times and lost all wind from my sails setting the stage for my longest, most defeated walking session when the 2:00 pacers finally passed.  It was all just so hard and demoralizing!  But I pulled it together and ground out that last mile and a half, post-pacers.  When all was said and done, I finished the run at 2 hours and 2 minutes, and my wildly irregular splits averaged out to about 9:20/mile, still much faster than my previous race. 

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(PR stands for “personal record.”  This is one of the many things I did not know two years ago.)

I had a goal today to beat 2:00 (two hours/total race time), a common benchmark goal for women at this distance.  As I achily, thirstily neared the finish line and knew for sure that had slipped through my fingers this time around, I had my own mini-Hillary Clinton moment.  I thought to myself, “I may not have shattered that highest glass ceiling, but there are a million more cracks in it!”

Running is so personal.  It’s SO mental.  It’s such a love-hate relationship.  And it’s one of the most rewarding, transformative things I’ve ever done.

The 2-hour ceiling awaits…. I guess there will just have to be a “next time.” 

PS – I used to ask myself, “If I run two half marathons, can I say I’ve run a marathon??”            

NO BETH, NO YOU CANNOT, says every marathon runner ever.

PPS – I just want to be clear that my husband, in all his disbelief of me, really is my biggest fan and most amazing support.  There’s no one I’d rather see at the finish line when I’m crying allll the ugly tears of pain and joy and relief, and he was right there today.  He’s also watching our wild children right now so I can indulge in my other love-hate relationship: writing.  He’s basically the best. 

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It’s Going to be a Long Summer (or, Why I’m Never Taking my Kids to Costco Again)

Here are some metaphors to help describe where I currently find myself in this particular season of parenting:

I am a soldier at boot camp, army-crawling through the glop and mud, thinking about my next meal, and if I’ll have to eat it standing up (probably).

I’m doing more damage control on a daily basis than the producers behind Roseanne and Samantha Bee combined.

I am Britney Spears the day she decided to shave her head.

Mmm kay, now that we got that out of the way. Disclaimer: this essay probably isn’t for anyone who isn’t comfortable talking about ALL aspects of parenting – the good, the bad and the ugly. If you’re more comfortable with highlight reels, this is not that. Cool? Cool.

But really, it’s either this or the Britney Spears buzz cut. And I still kind of like my hair. So here goes.

Yesterday, in a desperate attempt to do something to get myself and my children out of the house (because we’re thriving here on day 5 of summer vacation), I decided we’d all load into the car and head to Costco. Yay! After circling the parking lot approximately 17 times, we found a parking spot. We then made our way into the store with Jude in the front of the cart, Anderson in the big area, only mildly threatening to push each other out. I cut my normal item count of around 50 items, down to around 7 for the sake of all of our sanity.

I did not do my best planning with the timing of meals on this particular day, so we decided – for the first and last time – to try the Costco Food Court. This started with me finding a way to weave the world’s most enormous shopping cart filled with snack food and two grabbing, clawing, shrieking wild children through a sea of hungry child-less people to a little kiosk where I could (conveniently!) order our food.

Time was of the essence so I quickly selected a cheeseburger, slice of pizza and smoothie from the order touch screen. This was going to be the best lunch ever. A few minutes later I collected our food from a man SCREAMING the order number into my ear (it was #45; I will never forget it.) and pushed our huge cart over to a table that a woman was just leaving.

There was a rather muscular man still sitting there who didn’t know enough about our situation to say no when I asked if we could join him. Yay number two! Why Costco positions napkins, condiments, straws, napkins, forks, and NAPKINS SO FAR AWAY from the table where people actually have to sit and contain their children is truly beyond me. Our “meal” went like this:

*Jude and Anderson mock-sword fighting and nearly knocking each other off the plastic bench seating every 2 seconds

*Me dashing as quickly as I possibly could back and forth across the room to grab huge quantities of napkins and praying my kids didn’t injure each other or start a food fight in my absence.

*Me standing in between them hunched over devouring half a burger as fast as humanly possible while Jude runs the red pizza grease-covered palms of his hands alllll over allll of his clothing. I am single-handedly keeping the company that makes Shout stain remover in business.

*Me dashing back for more napkins, probably working up a sweat by now (totally intentional half marathon training!).

*Andersons and Jude fighting over a nearly-erupting smoothie while the man next to us continues to watch loud videos on his phone inclusive of both song and dance.

Right then and there I decided, this is it. THIS is what rock bottom, losing-my-mind parenting young logic-less children looks like. It actually LOOKS LIKE the Costco Food Court.

We (I) limped to the car and loaded our bulk-sized snacks and bite-sized children into the car. I then promptly texted my husband and a commiserating friend: “I just went to Costco and the Costco food court by myself with both kids and I think it’s truly one of the craziest things I’ve ever done in my whole entire life.”

On the way home, my sanity long since abandoned somewhere between the parking lot and the food court, my kids thought they would make sure I was still paying attention by launching books and shoes throughout the car while I drove. In that instant it dawned on me that young children are like prisoners: they cannot be trusted and will turn anything into a weapon.

We got home and I knew the rest of the day would be cake in comparison….so there was that.

So happy summer everyone. I promise I won’t be a downer EVERY DAY, but for now, you’ll find me and my kids making a sort of triangle in our living room, each on our respective devices, reading and watching garbage truck videos respectively, because KEEPING THE PEACE. There’s screen time, or there’s bald Britney. Pick your poison.