Friday, October 28, 2011

Living EZ

(Photo courtesy of Michael Maidwell )

Yesterday I asked you to tell me what you saw in this picture.  
What did you see?

Looks like a bunch of cyclist enjoying a ride.  Kind of makes you want to be along for the ride - huh? 

Often we on Daily Mile talk about what a wonderful community we have.  A community of runners, cyclists, swimmers, walkers.... athletes.   Ultra runners to Couch to 5k runners. All encouraging each other.  Lifting each other.  On good days.  On bad days. Inspirational.  Strong.  Hilarious.  There. For each other.  Each and every day. 

I watch and read posts and am amazed by the expressions of love and support.  For people for the most part you have never met.  Why?  Why are these people so invested in each other? 

There must be something in the endorphin's.  In our desire to be better people.  To be healthier people.  To be happier people. To be sane people.  It makes us more caring.  More loving.  More human.  Just plain more

So, what is the picture above about? 

(Sheila Mulder)
 It's a funeral.  Yes, a funeral. I bet you didn't guess that one.  The cool doode with the beard and white glasses riding the cruiser is Michael Maidwell, lead singer of the band Orange Grove. Runner.  This is the funeral for his father, Malcolm MaidwellHis father was instrumental in starting and organizing running, biking, triathlons, and kayaking etc. to the island of St. Maarten back in the day when these sports did not exist there. In May, Malcholm Maidwell died after a long battle with cancer.  For the funeral Michael and a relay of cyclists, runners and kayakers traveled around the island to Michael's father's final resting place out in the beautiful Caribbean waters. What a great tribute. All those athletes who were encouraged, inspired, & supported to get their kick-ass on because one man thought it was important enough to have these sports accessible to them. 

Think about if you didn't have access to your run, your ride, your swim. Malcolm made sure the people of St. Maarten did. 

When my father died 9 1/2 years ago my college girlfriends jumped on planes from all over the country and were by my side for the funeral.  I have to say it was one of the days in my life I felt the most love.  How strange is that?  The day I buried my father.  Yet, the amount of love surrounding me was immeasurable.  They were there for me at the funeral, at the luncheon, and then took my butt to an Irish pub afterwards and fed me pint after pint and made me laugh. Smile.  Breath.   My friends and I weren't then, but, we are now...runners.  

Just like Malcolm, my father's final resting place was the the Caribbean waters of St. Maarten.  It was much quieter affair for us. I took my dad in my purse with me on the plane. I know, don't even.  A little under his favorite hammock, a little on the beach, a little in the ocean.  At sunset.  We didn't have the large group that Malcolm had.  But, we had love nonetheless. 

I smile when I think about Malcolm's funeral. How amazing it must have felt for his family to have all those athletes embracing their broken hearts. How great is that?  Being in a moment of great sadness and being surrounded by a community of love.  

So much love that instead of tears you find yourself riding high with a huge smile on your face. 

We run, bike, and swim.  We have good days. We have bad days.  We struggle with our workouts, our injuries, our home life, our jobs, and just plain old life. But, no matter what kind of day we have, we know that at the end of the day this little community of love that surrounds us will make sure we are Living EZ.  

That no matter what, we are feeling irie, mon. 

Orange Grove - Living EZ

Suck it Cancer.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What do you see?

Photo courtesy of M.M. 

This is one of my favorite photos. 

Tell me what this is a photo of? 
What are the words you would used to describe it? 
How does this make you feel? 
 What do you see

Let me see what you think.  
Tomorrow I will tell you who this is and what it is a photo of.  
I bet you'll be surprised.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Run Alone

I don't need your help.  I'm not weak.  I can pick up that package.  Who cares that I'm wearing heals.  Excuse me, but I can lift it.  Let me be. I don't need you to help me with my luggage.  I'm fine, thank you very much.  See that chainsaw I have in my hand?  I'm chopping down a tree. Leave me alone.  Paint that entire beach wall?  Yeah, so what? Three coats, both sides, in the hot sun.  By myself.  You couldn't hang.  Don't even try. 

You want to help?  If you are a doode, no matter a stranger or a friend, you can hold the door for me. That would be nice.  I would like that.  However, other than that. I don't need your help.  

Because, I run alone

When I need to run. I run.  I don't meet up with groups of runners.  I don't make running dates.  I don't have running meet ups.  I just figure out when in my life I have time and have run out of excuses why I can't.  Then I run.

I like to run alone because it my time to clear my mind.  If you recall, running for me was a way to escape the stress and overwhelming drama as family members were dying.  This was a time for people to not depend on me.  To not need me.  For me to be me. 

I don't typically like to run with others.  Not that I hate it.  But, I like to go at my pace.  I worry that I'm too slow for some and too fast for others.  I need to go at my speed.  Whatever that is on any given day. It's my time to talk to myself.  To have discussions with me. 

However, I'm learning to accept people into my run.  

In February of this year Lisa and I signed up for the Chicago Marathon together. I had been running pretty consistently.  Nothing major as far as mileage.  Just doing my usual 5.5 mile trail loop.  Lisa had not run in many months.  She needed to start to get her run on again. So she met up with me for her first run.  I was worried about this run. Would I be too slow.  Would I be too fast.  Would we not be compatible running together?   It turns out it was great.  We both have long legs so our strides were pretty spot on.  After many months of no running she was right there with me. (Bitch)  I absolutely despise talking on a run.  But, we never shut up.  We talked about work.  Furniture.  Men.  The process in which we shave our legs. Running.  Running clothes. Cute shoes. Not wanting to shit our pants while running. We laughed a lot.  It was fun. 

We continued to meet for runs here and there as often as we could.  However, eventually, Lisa was back in her running shape. She's a runner.  She's speedy. I'm not.  Sadly, eventually, I had to start insisting that we could no longer run together.  She needed to do this on her terms.  Not mine. After loving being a lone runner, I was starting to think I was liking this partner running.  But, sadly it was over. 

I signed up for 2011 Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon . I was doing this alone.  At the time I knew nobody else running it.  I ran it twice before.  I would run it again. It didn't really matter to me if anybody else was running it.  I always race alone.  If people ask me to sign up for races with them my answer usually is, "Sure, but I won't run with you.  I run alone".  As time went by this lone race for me slowly became a race of many friends.  I was excited for them all to come.  I had Daily Mile friends ( Logan & Sara ) whom I had never met coming in.  I had an old college friend, Erin, coming in.  I had a long time friend, Robert-Jan,  from St. Maarten coming in. I had Lisa.  No longer was this going to be a lone race. 

Nobody knew each other.  As someone told me later I was the spoke in the wheel that brought us all together.  We all met.  We all got along really well.  It was awesome.  On race morning we all headed to the start area. 

Erin, me, Logan, Robert-Jan
In the past 40,000 runners takes awhile to get across the start line.  So, with that in mind we decided to take our time to get in our corrals. Logan was starting behind the Kenyans, so he bolted immediately, like as in I have no idea where he went, after this picture. Erin, RJ, & I hit gear check, the bathrooms, listened to the national anthem, then slowly walked towards our corrals.  Only to find them, well, gone. Huh? The start was WAY faster than anticipated.  We saw corrals #20 - #30 lined up around the corner, about ready to go.  But, for the three of us, our corrals were long gone.  None of us were the same corral.  But, we looked at each other, and said, "I guess we are starting", gave each other hugs, wished each other luck,  pressed our Garmins, and started to run.  

I had no intention of running with them for the entire race. I figured we would jog a bit to start and then spread out.  After all, I run alone.  Erin was with us for a bit.  But, then she got lost in the crowd.  We heard a few Wheee! Wheee! 's  and she was gone.  RJ and I continued to run together. We were going at a good pace together.  But, I was just waiting for us to split up at some point. 

 But, we continued on our pace together. To the 6 mile mark.  We both saw the clock time as we crossed and looked at each other.  I said, "That was fast" He said, "I know, that's my fastest ever".  I replied, "We need to slow down."  He answered, "No, lets keep going".  I hated him.

Robert-Jan and me hand in hand over the finish
I'm tall. But, RJ's VERY tall. I was having  hard time keeping up.  My piriformis injury was hurting.  I made sure to get water at every station.  RJ did not.  So, each time I would have to run and catch up to him after drinking.  Thankfully, he was easy to spot.  Thankfully, he slowed down a bit to wait for me.  When I was hurting, he reminded me that I could do it.  When he started cramping at mile 11 or so, I reminded him he could do it.  When he pulled up just before the finish line I told him to suck it up and get his ass to the finish.  I was in pain too.  We could do this. He hopped up.  We ran.  To the finish.  Just as we got to the finish he grabbed my hand.  We crossed together. 

We ran start to finish together.  For the first time I did not race alone. And, it was ok.  It was better than ok.  It was great.  I think there were a few times I would have quit on myself.  Gone slower.  Maybe not pushed as hard.  But, I had RJ to keep up with.  I had RJ to bring to the finish at the end when he was hurting. 

This weekend I had something hit me in the gut. Weird.  Random.  Out of the blue.  But, it socked me to the core.  So much so it made me vomit.  I went out for a long ride (I'm still injured and can't run) to sort it out.  It wasn't working.  Logan was texting me to make sure I was ok. I wasn't.  I was still shaking.  I was still vomiting.  I would ride a few miles. Read something he wrote.  Write back. Think about what he said.  Ride some more.  Read some more.  Write some more.  Ride some more. Until it got better.  Until I could just ride.  At around mile 26 I was lost.  Of course I was. How appropriate.  I was in the woods.  I had no idea where I was or how I was going to get out.  It was starting to get dark. Honestly, I felt like sitting down and quitting. But, I knew another text would come in asking where on my ride I was.  I couldn't say I was under a tree.  So, I took a deep breath and figured out how to get the hell out of there. 

41 miles later I was okay. However, I wouldn't have been if I was riding alone.  But, I wasn't riding alone.

I'm learning how to not run alone.  It's hard for me.  I like the alone part.  I like the solitude.  However, I also need people by my side too.  I can't keep insisting that I don't.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What I Know To Be True « Weight In Vain

What I Know To Be True « Weight In Vain

Katherine is one of the very first people I followed on Twitter.  Through her I found Ben Davis .  Thus bringing me to Daily Mile . All contributing to giving my running journey a huge kick in the ass.

This is her best one yet.  Hits closer to home than you even know.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Fade away

If I could throw this
Lifeless lifeline to the wind
Leave this heart of clay
See you walk, walk away
Into the night
And through the rain
Into the half-light
And through the flame

If I could through myself
Set your spirit free
I'd lead your heart away
See you break, break away
Into the light
And to the day

"Bad" ~ U2

How do you stop yourself from fading away?  

How do you stop others from fading away from you?   

And, how hard do you fight for both? 

Pretty damn hard.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Out of the bleachers

For years I was only a spectator.  A cheerleader.  There for everybody else.  Cheering for everybody else.  Whether for life's great gifts of happiness and joy or through life's struggles.  I was always there. In recent years I was there as family members were dying.  I stopped my life to help keep their lives going.  I have no regrets about this.  I wouldn't trade it in for anything.  Ever

But, I was also there for friends.  As they struggled with their own demons.  Depression.  Alcoholism. Bad marriages.  I listened.  I cared. I supported.  I was the cheerleader. I drove them to rehab.  I helped cover their lies.  I picked them up in the middle of the night when they needed to leave a bad situation.  I listened to stories about how their lives were falling apart.  I helped pick them up when life knocked them to their knees.  And, worse.  Then they would fall again.   I would pick them up again.  They would fall again. Eventually, I stopped picking them up.  I had to walk away.  I had to walk away because somewhere while trying to save others I lost myself. 

You see, along the way of my semi-professional cheerleading gig I disappeared.   I became invisible.  Invisible to the very same people I was cheering for.  In fact, to even those not needing my services necessarily.  Life went by.  I let life go by.  My friends didn't seem to notice or care.   I would be a room with them and somehow I would not be included in conversation.  They would ask how I was but never listen long enough for me to answer. Often I could be in a room with them and they would barely notice I was there.  Sometimes I would leave the room for periods at a time and do something else.  I don't think they flinched.  

How could I become so invisible?  I'm 5'10" (6'1"+  in my pretty heels).  I'm kind of hard to miss.  Yet, people didn't see me.  Life didn't see me any longer.  

Then I started to run.  I ran more.  I ran longer.  I ran in the dark.  I ran on the prairies.  I ran in the woods.  I always ran alone.  Yet, somehow I started to become less invisible.  People started to see me.  I didn't know these people.  They were cyclists I passed on the trail who waved and smiled.  They were runners who I met up with at a light who asked me how far I was running that day.  It was the uber runner guy at my running store who fitted me for new shoes for an hour while talking about my running journey.  About my upcoming races.  About me.   The more I ran the less invisible I became.  Suddenly, people started to notice me.  Strangers who I never knew started talking to me about how different I looked.  I didn't ever remember these people to begin with.  Yet, they somehow remembered me. I guess I wasn't as invisible as I thought before.  Perhaps just to certain people. I was being seen. I just wasn't being noticed. 

Once I started to run I felt better about myself.  I started not needing to save other people.  This was hard for me because I always want to be the one to help others.  To cheer them.  To heal them.  I think it was a way for me to ignore saving myself.  But, unbeknownst to me, I was back to being a cheerleader.  This time, though, it was for me.   I signed up for races.  I ran them alone.  I had nobody cheering me for my life.  Ironic, it was.  All those times I was there for everybody else. There were never there for me.  Races were no different.  But, it was ok.  It was really ok.  It was ok because I had other people who seemed to care about me.  Sure, they were strangers.  However, they asked about me.  They asked about running.  They wanted to truly know how I was doing.  They didn't settle for my standard "I'm fine" answer.  They wanted to know how I was really feeling.  How my running was going.  When my next race was.  How LIFE was. More importantly how MY LIFE was. 

Oddly enough, some of the people I tried to save and had to walk away from have re-entered my life recently.  They have finally saved themselves.  They are back for redemption. To thank me. To tell me that when everyone else gave up on them that I never did.  That I was the only one to stay when others walked away.   That's good to hear.  Even better to hear is them ask about me.  To listen to me.  To hear me. To notice me. 

I'll always be a cheerleader.  I'll always be the one screaming my lungs out for you to succeed.  For you to do your best. For you to stop struggling and start fighting.  For you to never give up.  Because I will never give up on you. Ever.  Even when you give up on yourself.  Even if you give up on me. 

However, excuse me if I do walk away from time to time and cheer for myself once in awhile.  I'm worth it too.  


After all, life is NOT a spectator sport.  And, it's about time for me to join the race. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wait 'til next year......

I have SO much to say about the #CM11 Chicago Marathon.  I don't know where to even begin.  I suggest you grab a cold one.  Or some coffee.  A blanket.  Some energy gel.  Perhaps a banana. You might even want compression socks. This is clearly the longest race report for someone who didn't even run the damn race. 

This was to be my race.  MY marathon.  The one I do.  The one that makes me a marathoner. We all know my tired story by now.  I tried.  My brain quit.  I got injured.   I did not run.

This was my girls weekend.  College friends getting together at least once a year.  Used to be football games.  Then weddings.  Then just random places to go have fun.  In the last year or two these have turned into race weekends.  Funny how that happened since almost all of us never really ran.  Some of us met up for Chicago Shamrock Shuffle this spring.  We enjoyed a nice (but hot) race and had a fun time afterwards.  At this point some of us had already signed up to run the Chicago Marathon. Three of us and another's husband were planning on running.  As it turned out, three of the four of us had to drop out.  Injuries, conflicts, and just general lack of feeling ready were some of our reasons. So, sadly, this left one lone runner, Celeste, to our marathon.  Thankfully, this was her 10th marathon, so old hat for her.

Friday night we drank wine, caught up, drank some more wine, made race signs, and drank some more wine. 'Twas fun.  However, too much as one person was unable to get out of bed the next morning  So, we found it necessary to make yet another sign. 

On Saturday we headed to the Expo.  I was really worried that being here would make me cry.  I figured as soon as I got my bib I would lose it.  Oddly enough, I did not.  Instead I was kind of excited.  There were THOUSANDS of runners here.  You could feel the excitement.  It made me feel good.  If I were running I would feel scared.  This I know for sure.  I just missed seeing Ray here.  He tweeted that he was leaving Expo just as we were getting on the shuttle to leave as well.  I missed him. One of many missed meetings with him all weekend. 

Runners entering corral
Up early Sunday.  Walked with Celeste over to the race start to make sure she got to where she needed to ok.  It was kind of a mess as runners were very unclear where they could get in to their corral.  Lots of runners hustling to the start after attempting to enter in areas nowhere near where they needed to be.  I had planned on going all the way to the start area.  No, I was not running.  However, I did still have my bib.  So, I could get in the runner area.  However, it was so crazy there I decided to say goodbye to her before she entered the "if you aint running get out" area.  We would see her again in 26.2.  
runners head to the start by the Modern Wing of the Art Institute
45,000 runners start

Met up with the rest of the girls on the spectator side of the start.  Watching this start was beautiful.  A sea of runners, flowing like calm ocean waves......gently bobbing up and down as it  streamed by us.  The race started.  It. was. on. For as far as you could see in either direction all you could see were runners. Beautiful, strong, amazing...... runners.  It was spectacular. 

We had plans.  Plans to be uber spectators.  A little marathon got in the way.  We were able to jump right into a cab and get to the second stop for our day.  We had planned on just past mile 8.  However, my friend Lee, who was saving us a spot there, was stuck in a crowd.  It was crowded.  The runners were already running by in a steady stream.  We didn't want to fight our way to the spot.  We found a wide open spot about 1/2 mile away on Addison. I was worried all the people I gave my planned location to would not find me. I panicked a little. But, I hunkered down.  Pulled out my Do Epic Shit sign. This is when the fun really began.  The second that sign hit the air it started.  The smiles.  The laughs. The hooting.  The hollering. The "right-on" finger pointing to me.  The high fives.  The shouts of "Do Epic Shit!!!! WHOOOOOO!" All of this..... from the runners.   It. was. amazing.   Several yelled Una Runnnnnnner! or "Do you know Logan?"  It was great! 

I cannot tell you how awesome it is to have racers look at YOU and smile.  Most runners usually don't smile when racing.  They are focused.  Or tired.  Or struggling. But, when they passed me, the lips slowly turned upwards.  They got a glint in their eyes.  It was amazing.  To have that affect.  Some were extremely boisterous when passing me.  Yelling back at me.  Others, quietly smiled a modest smile.  I could only sense what their brain was really thinking.  Made me giggle.  

I was tracking quite a few runners.  Sadly, Ryan was just TOO fast and I never was able to get to my location before he passed.   Runner tracking always informed me he was already past my next location before I even left the current one.  I cheered him on from afar.  Thankfully, runner tracking let me know when people were past 10k.  I knew to judge their arrival time at my location.  It was great.  In the meantime I made many new friends with strangers passing me by.  I'm a little loud when I cheer.  I tend to make noise.  I scream.  I whistle.  I Whooooooo!!!! Loudly.  The runners heard me.  For sure. :D  I started to lose my voice.  And, I was only one hour into the race. 

So, one by one people I knew came by.  Thankfully, they all saw ME and came by ME and shouted!  TomBrian (Brian DM), Celeste, Casey,  Becky .  ALL of them stopping and shouting out to me!  I shouted back... even louder GOOOOOOO!   I was waiting around for Ray (Ray DM ) who obviously started further back in the corrals.  I waited as long as I could.  My friends waiting to get to the next spot to meet Celeste.  I finally had to leave my spot.  I'm positive Ray went by right after I left.  

When Lisa S.  came by she yelled hi and ran away.  Went a couple of feet. Came back.  Hugged me and said, "I need this.  This was SO what I needed.  Thanks. "  And, she was off.  I was tickled beyond belief that I saw her.  Lisa and I signed up together.  We sat on our computers until 1:30 am on that February night trying to get in.  We started training together.  We went on some hilariously funny runs together.  We were on different paths.  But, the same journey.  We both started to fail mentally at the same time.  Before we could pick each other up, I got injured.  I was out. Lisa was on her own.  Well, not on her own really.  I was with her.  Just not running next to her anymore.  She felt awful that I was not running.  We cried a lot over it.  She empathized with my sadness.  It helped.  But, I was not going to let her quit.  I was there for her on her long runs when she wanted to give up.  And, here she was.... running past me.  Running the Chicago Marathon.  I was SO happy. 

Next our plan was to head to Mile 15 to give Celeste the Gu we promised.  We had to PROMISE we would be there.  We did.  We weren't.  Our cab driver was clueless that the marathon was taking place.  Uhhhh, wtf!  We were trying to tell him the best ways to avoid closed roads and time after time he kept turning right into the race.  It was SO frustrating.  I was freaking out in the back seat.  I don't like to let friends down.  We were letting  Celeste down.  We decided mile 15 was out.  We started to try for 16.  Then that became out of the question.  17?  Nope, not that either.  We took a chance on 18.  We got there.  Flew out of the cab.  Ran to the side of the race in a nice spot.  Started cheering immediately.  We were back in business.  I started seeing some familiar faces from the first stop.  They started seeing me again.  I got lots of "it's YOU again!"  "I'm still doing epic shit"  "I'm not feeling very epic anymore". Several pointed out to their running partners, "There she is again"  Within a very short 4-5 minutes I spotted her.  Coming around the corner.  Celeste.  Oh. My. God.  We made it.  Late.  But, we made it.  I hollered out to the other girls.  Gu out.  We were ready.  Whooooooo Celeste!!!!!!! Apologies all around.  She didn't seem to care.  She got her Gu.  She got our faces.  She was off again. Kicking ass.   The girls and I looked at each other.  Eyes wide.  Phew, that was VERY close.  Our next plan was catching her at the finish.

One of my favorite parts of the race was at mile 18.  This little boy, about 3 just stood on the side of the road, more inside the race than by the spectators.  He just stood there.  With his arm outstretched.  Awaiting some high-fives.  I loved watching the runners turn the corner, see this little doode, smile, high five and run on.  It was so cute! 

Runners looked a lot different at mile 18 than at 7.5 (duh).  They were obviously hot.  They all were parched.  People were definitely starting to struggle. People were starting to cramp.  It was a bit hard to watch.  I was hot.  I was only standing there screaming, holding a sign.  I was behind them all the way.  I wanted them all to do well.  By the way, holding the sign did turn out to be more difficult than I imagined.  My arms started to hurt.  My shoulders were really sore.  My hands actually fell asleep and I was finding it very hard to hold the sign.  But, one look at these runners.... really, Andrea?  Suck it up cupcake. Hold the friggin' sign.  Scream your ass off.  In fact I was screaming so loud that one doode came around the corner ran right up to me and said, "Just so you know, I could hear you all around the corner.  Thanks!".  <smile>

Lisa N.  had a few people she was following.  So, we stuck around to see if we could catch them.  She saw some at 7.5.  But, based on tracking we might be able to catch another here.  We cheered.  More familiar faces.  More smiles.  This time I got some thank you's.  More high fives. Lots more high fives.  A couple of ass pats (thank you!) from doodes saying, "I saw you the first time, this is great", "I needed this", etc.  I even got some hugs.  Most half hugs.  But, I got a huge full on one.  Tom came by again. I cheered.  He went on a few feet.  Came back.  Gave me a huge ass schweddy hug.  It was awesome. Thanks pumpkin!  Brian was next.  He was looking a bit warm as well.  But, soldiering on.  Imagine my surprise when a smiling Ashleigh came flying by.  She had a, uh-hum, timing chip problem so her tracks never came through for me to find her.  I was SOOO happy to see her.  She looked great!.   I didn't see any other Daily Milers here.  But, Lisa did see one of her runners.  So, off we went to try to get Celeste for her finish.

We started walking a straight line toward the lake front and the finish line.  We were looking for a cab, but finally realized this was not going to happen.  So, we walked the few miles.  Because of this, sadly,  we did not see Celeste cross. I think we were standing on a bridge over the expressway when the text came in.  Whoo-Hoo Celeste finished.  And, finished strong I might add.  Not a PR.  But, placed her  5711/35660 overall.    1158/15419 for women  166/2161  in her age group.  Not too shabby.  SO proud of her.  Later that day she told us she was retiring from marathons.  She was done with them.  Huh. 

When we neared the finish I saw the final push towards the end.  Chicago races have a cruel way of adding in this bridge to many of their races finishes.  It is a killer.  I cannot even imagine it after 25. 5 miles. Julie and Lisa headed to meet up with Celeste. I stayed back to try to catch Lisa S. finish.  In addition, I love watching the finish.  Love watching people make that final push to the end.  Seeing their faces.  Knowing that they DID this.  It gets me every time.  I saw dads pick up their kids and run with them in their arms.  I saw teens jump the fence and sprint in with their moms.  I saw race officials practically drag a few people over the line.  But, finish they did.  I saw many couples grab hands, run together, finish a dream.  Many were taking pictures.  Of US. The crowd.  It was great. 

Lisa in blue, black shorts
I kept looking down the street.  Hoping to see Lisa.  She wasn't there yet.  Then, there came Lisa.  I saw her all the way down the street.  She was running right along the fence where I stood.  I screamed her name.  She looked.  She blew me a kiss. I started to cry.  I screamed some more.  I watched her cross the line.  I couldn't have been prouder of her.  She did it.  Hot damn.  She did it.  PR'd her last Chicago Marathon of a few years ago by one hour.  Yes, she had a faster goal in mind.  But, in these conditions, a PR is a fantastic achievement in my eyes.  Hell, finishing is an achievement!

I stuck around to watch other DM'ers make it in.  I saw Tom.  I saw BrianBecky came flying right by me, smile on her face.  The girls were waiting for me.  I had to leave.  But, I was still waiting for Ray.  I had missed him ALL weekend.  I couldn't leave.  I started to leave about five times.  Each time convinced he was right around the corner, I stayed.  Finally after getting yet another text from the girls I had to leave.  I walked away. Reluctantly. I walked out of the bleacher area.  Walked about 2 minutes.  Ping!  In came a text.  Ray King had finished.  And, I missed it.  Oh, Ray, I tried SO very hard.  I'm sorry.  I know Chinatown was not kind to you.  I'm SO proud you soldiered on.  You, my friend, are a marathoner.  Be proud. 

I am SO thankful I saw all the people I did.  I am so very proud of you all.  Of what you accomplished.  I know some of you are not happy with your time.  But, under those heat conditions you should be thrilled.  It was NOT easy. 

I had SO much fun holding that sign. Claire(Claire DM) also had her Do Epic Shit tee on.  She reported feeling the same mad love making people smile.  So many people came up to me and took my picture.  One racer took it and posted it to Facebook while standing in front of me!  ha! Lisa and Julie teased me that I should have written my phone number on the sign because they have never seen that many hot guys.... talking to me no less!  Duly noted for next time! Runnrgrrl saw me twice and screamed DO EPIC SHIT!!!!!!!  both times she passed me. Many runners told me at 18 that I had the best sign on the course.  Wheeeeee!!!!  I can't even describe the joy I felt making the runners feel good.  It was such a good feeling. I wish you all could feel what I felt.  It was a complete honor to cheer them on.   So many runners have told me since that I was the highlight of their race.  Man, how cool is that?  But, seriously, runners,  YOU, were the ones who made my day.  Thank you. 

I thought I would be sad this weekend.  I was not.  I was SO happy.  However, when I awoke on Monday I felt a bit different.  I was sore.  My shoulders were sore.  My shin hurt.  A lot.  We did a lot of walking over the weekend.  It hurt then.  It hurt more on Monday.  It made me worry.  That I may never run again.  Celeste was in better shape than me for crying out loud!  But, also, the fact that I didn't run finally hit me.  I got a message from Lisa S early in the morning.  She told me that I was the first face she saw in the race and the last face she saw before finishing.  It made me cry. It made me happy. But, it made me cry.  For the first time it hit me that I didn't experience the race.  As a runner.  I didn't see this coming, but it came.  A few hours later our friend living in France called to find out about the race.  She talked to me about me not running.  She was giving me a little pep talk about how proud she was of me.  How I had transformed myself into a new person. How I would run that marathon one day.   I cried again.  Not sure why.  I think partially because I knew she was right.  And, partially because I knew this journey of mine, halted for a minor mental meltdown and a major injury shutdown, was not yet over.  

The girls started to get ready to leave each other.  As she turned to get into the car to leave, the now marathon retired Celeste turned to me and said, "If you run Chicago next year I'll run again."  :D

So, there it is.  2012 Chicago Marathon.  I will be waiting for you.  Will you be waiting for me? 

Friday, October 7, 2011


In January I was on a little 5 mile blizzard run with Ben , Brooke, & Casey.  (By the way, one of the coolest runs ever).  The snow was coming down.  A blizzard indeed.  We ran 5 glorious miles along the Chicago Lakefront.  It. was. epic. Ben was telling me a bit about his running journey. Overweight to IronMan.  I was inspired.  He told me I could run a marathon.  That I would run a marathon.  I left that day feeling that I just might be able to.

It is finally   2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon weekend.   A weekend that I've been looking forward to and dreading since 1:30 am on that late February night that I finally was able to get myself registered to run.   

I had SO much to say about this weekend.  How I trained so hard.  Was really pushing myself further than I had ever in my life.  How this was the hardest thing I ever did in my life.  That it hurt.  Mentally and physically. It effing hurt. 

It was a brutally hot summer for training.  Just awful.  I'm a cold weather runner.  Shorts and tee in the middle of winter.  Love it.  The heat brought me to my knees on several occasions.  Literally.  

I was going to say how I was feeling so good there half way through.  That I had my UBHA (Under Bitch Hammie Ass) injury.  How it flared up. But, how I was pushing through it anway.   I was running further than I ever had. I had some tough runs where I didn't think I would make it through.  But, thanks to some dear friends. who texted me messages to get my butt to the finish, I  did it.  I did those long runs.  I even went on one stealth long run without telling anybody.  I could fail myself.  But, I didn't want to fail others.  If they didn't know I attempted, they wouldn't know I failed.  I succeeded anyway. I did it.  On my own.  It felt good.  I felt strong.  I felt like I could possibly actually do this marathon.

And, then, I attempted my 18 mile run.  I didn't want to go.  I waited too late in the day.  But, I had friends telling me to get out there.  To shut up and run. So, I did.  I only made it three miles before I started to overheat.  I felt weak.  I felt nauseous.  Just then a funny text came in that made me giggle.  I talked it out with my friend.  He told me to go home.  Stopping is not failing.  Death is failing.  But, after several minutes of chatting I felt better.  I started up again.  I started to feel good.  For a bit.  I ran another 5 miles.  And, then, I just stopped.  My legs stopped.  By brain stopped.  I stopped.  I stood there looking at the river.  I started to cry.  I knew I was done.  I think in a way I knew I was more than just done with this run.  I knew I was done with the marathon. 

I texted my friend.  He told me to go home.  This time I listened.  Instead of walking the 1.5 miles home from where I was I forced myself to walk the long way back.  5 miles. A long 5 miles.  It was my walk of shame.  Without the heels.  

The next day my shin hurt.  A lot.  I was done.  That was 7 weeks ago.  

My dream was done.  I had resolutions this year.  Running the Chicago Marathon was resolution #1.  And, I'm not doing so good on the others.  ;)  Epic fail .  

I made one stupid 4 mile run 2 weeks ago. Because I missed the run.  My mind missed the run.  My spirit missed the run.  It was SOOO painful.  That first mile was brutal.  I cried.  (God, I cry a lot.  wtf). But, I wouldn't stop.  By the end of mile 1 my mind was feeling so good I started to forget the pain.  I was only planning on a very slow 2 mile run.  But, I just couldn't stop.  I ran 4 miles.  I could have kept going. But, I was pretty sure I was screwing up my leg.  So, reluctantly I stopped. 

I went to see a doctor.  He couldn't figure out what was wrong with me.  Wednesday I went for a bone scan.  Watching the dye go through my body it was clear when it hit my shin that something was wrong.  My shin lit up like a Christmas tree.   Doctor's appointment this afternoon.  I guess I'll find out what's wrong.  I hope I do. ***Update: Stress fracture.  Three more weeks of no running. ****

To say I'm devastated is an understatement.  But, at the same time I'm slightly relieved.  I'm not sure I was ready.  This was not the year for me.  Apparently some higher being agreed. 

So, I will cheer on all my friends who are running.  I will scream loud.  I will dance.  My milkshake will bring boys to the yard. Ok, well, maybe not that.  But, I will be a crazy ass bitch.   I will wear my DoEpicShit shirt. For my friends running by I will have band-aids.  I will have Gatorade. I will have Bodyglide.  I will have Motrine.  I will have Honey Stingers.  I might have beer.  I will have hugs. Lots of hugs. 

Yes, I was going to tell you all that.  How I am NOT running the 2011 Chicago Marathon. Nope.  I am not. 

But, perhaps, just perhaps, I will give it another try. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Father's Daughter

Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. 
Don't lose faith. 
~Steve Jobs

My day today began with a radioactive breakfast.  I headed to the hospital for the bone scan on my shin.  To finally figure out what's wrong with me.  Why I am in pain.  Why I cannot run.  Sadly I am very familiar with this hospital as I spent many hours here in the recent years with my dad and grandma.  I haven't been in the hospital for me since I fell out of a tree when I was 7 years old.   I watched in the monitor as the radioactive crap flowed through my body.  It was actually pretty cool. As it hit my shin, it lit up like a Christmas tree.  Yeah, there's something, something going on there for sure.   

For some reason  after my tests were over I couldn't leave the hospital. Every time I had been here before I couldn't wait to leave. Many times I was leaving with a knot in my stomach.  Another doctor's appointment where my dad received bad news once again.   Another emergency visit where we thought is this the end? But, today, I needed to pause.  Reflect. I walked outside to a garden area and sat on a bench.  On another bench sat an elderly man.  Alone.  Visibly upset.  It broke my heart. I knew what this man was feeling.  I was there once. 

After my tests I decided to head out for a long bike ride in honor of my dad today. It was a gorgeous day.  Warm, sunny, clear blue skies.  A day my dad would have loved.  He was a private pilot.  Along the trail I pass a private airstrip in a local subdivision.  A private plane landed over me as I rode. Today would have been a perfect flying day.  A day when I was a kid where he would wake me up out of bed and say, "Wake up, Andrea.  We are flying to Wisconsin for breakfast."  <Love>  

Riding my bike today I remembered a funny story about my dad.  When I was home from college for a break we were heading to my sister's for some family function.  Just before we were ready to leave my dad announces that he will be riding his bike there.  Huh?  Um, what?  She lived 10 miles away. I couldn't remember the last time my dad was on a bike.  He wasn't someone who worked out.  He was overweight. But, at the same time he would jump in at any opportunity to do something athletic if challenged or asked. Or, maybe if he just felt like it.  A very, "What the hell.  Why not?" attitude. He was the guy in the belly flop contest, just because.  The parent who jumped in the parent relay at the swim meet and killed his leg. And, apparently he was the guy who without any recent working out decides to throw his 250lb body on a bike.  We were praying for those tires I tell ya! Dad made it to my sisters.  A little out of breath.  But, he did it.  I was quite proud of him.

Dad was a Chicago guy.  A tough guy.  He took risks.  Did fun things.  Did things just for the hell of it. He made his own wine.  (My sister and I stomped the grapes!) He played Santa in my pre-school.  He cooked a mean steak. He tended a killer garden. He swam with sharks. He flew a plane.  

I was not my dad.  At least I didn't think so.  I'm a girlie girl.  I like to wear 4 inch heels and short skirts.  My dad kind of got screwed out of having a little doode.  But, not really.  I was also a great tomboy too.  Yes, I was a ballerina, a figure skater, a cheerleader.  But, I also fished, climbed trees, played in the dirt, camped, raced the boys.  He pulled me in a pick up truck on a frozen lake with me on a sled behind yelling "faster daddy!  faster daddy!"  Yup, faster he went.  He threw me in the air across the pool as I screamed, "throw me higher!".  He snuck me in a casino at age 14.  And, he couldn't be prouder that I got in. Ha! 

When I said I wanted to live in St. Maarten with college friends the summer after my freshman year my mom suspected what the summer would be like and quickly said, "I don't think so"  Dad also suspected what the summer would be like and said, "sure".  I went.  When I asked if I could study abroad the next summer mom wasn't too keen on it.  Dad said he thought it sounded interesting and they would figure out a way they could afford it.  I went. When I told them I was planning on moving to Korea after college for a few months my mother said "No way".  My dad asked questions. More questions.  Then wished me well.  Off I went. 

I think dad would have been tickled with my little running journey.  He, sadly, never saw me start this silly ride.  But, I suspect he would have thought it was pretty cool.  While very supportive of my swimming while growing up, he was not really a fan of attending my meets.  I get that.  Swim meets are pretty boring.  But, he was there when it mattered;  State meets, U.S. National meets.   He never pressured me to do well.  Always made me feel it was ok no matter what. Mom doesn't get my running.  She has no clue what I'm doing. She can't understand why.  I'm pretty sure if I would have told him I was planning on running a marathon that he would say, "do it.".  And, I'm VERY sure he would come watch. 

I kind of liken me deciding to run a marathon to him jumping on a bike for a random 10 mile ride.  What the hell. Why not? 

Today is my dad's birthday.  Cancer ripped him from me 9 1/2 years ago.   He never thought he would die. No matter how bad it got, he just never gave up.  There had to be another option.  Another way.  Something.   He was NOT GOING TO DIE.  Cancer ravaged his brain.  Cancer sucked the breath out of his lungs. Cancer weakened his muscles.  Cancer eventually took his leg.  But, Cancer never took his will to live. Ever. 

On the day he died I suspected this was it.  He, however, did not.  Eventually, though,  the breathing became too difficult for him.  So, me, his little baby girl, gave him morphine shots throughout the night to help ease the suffering. I would let him go.   It was time. But, I would not let him go in pain.  My mom and sister fell asleep on the floor beside his bed.  I sat next to him, holding his hand.  Telling him it was ok. It was ok to go.   With his favorite music, Meatloaf's "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" playing in the background, he finally was ready to finish the race.   And, then, he was gone. 

There were days in my marathon training where I just couldn't go on. Where mentally I was spent. Where physically I couldn't take another step.  I look back at that now and think how weak I was.  My dad never gave up.  Ever.  Shame on me for quitting.  For letting my mind tell me I could not go on.  For not getting up for those early runs, and instead sleeping in.  Because I was scared.   I bet my dad was scared. Hell yeah. Cancer is a hell of a lot scarier than a marathon.  26.2 miles versus Cancer?  No contest.  

I hope my dad is proud of me for my effort to run the marathon.   I surely gave it everything I had for as long as I could, both mentally and physically. I was mentally at the end of my rope when my body finally gave out. Dad wasn't the most demonstrative guy with love.  However, as he was near the end there  he did tell me how very proud he was of me.  For taking care of him.  For being there for him. For helping him fight.   For loving him. 

I will run that marathon one day.  I will not quit.  I will fight.  Because my dad never quit.  He fought his marathon to the finish. 

 First,  I need to add a song to my marathon training running mix......

Fight on. LiveStrong.  Run on.

Suck it Cancer.