Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The thing that you do

My friend Anne wrote here about how in light of my family's recent tragedy everything else seems quite trivial, especially blogging.

I feel that way too. My world is greatly darkened. And I have to think that if my world feels this way I cannot begin to imagine the blackness that is my brother and Pam's life right now.

Anne is right, everything by comparison is trivial. But I think we need those trivial things. If we spend our life weighing in on the heaviness of death and life I think our heads and our hearts would explode.

We need the trivial.
We need laughter.
We need the mundane.
We need the heavy.
And we need whatever it is that will get us by.
You see those two little cherubs in the picture with Evan?
That is what gets me by. And I know Duncan is helping Justin and Pam. He helps me too.

Right now though, even with my little angels-- sometimes devils-- I am having a hard time picturing when the world will not be this way-- so dark and so sad. And as a person who long ago aligned herself on the side of happiness I am particularly fearful and disgusted at this sadness-- this darkness that I once called my nothingness.

There was a time in my life where I was depressed. How depressed? Well, I can't say or honestly, don't care to-- and I suppose it doesn't matter now as it was long ago. I rarely think of that time but it sits there in the corner of my mind, a crouching reminder of darker days.

That was a time where daily I thought about killing myself. Most days I just hoped I would die but there were other days that I spent daydreaming on how to do it. Once, I even half heartedly tried. I saw a therapist twice a week and tried a bunch of different anti-depressants. I never slept but I wasn't exactly a productive member of society either. You know, unless you call Olympic beer consumption as productive.

During this time period I also had extreme guilt over what I saw as my obsessive self-indulgence into my nothingness. I felt guilty because I knew I had no real reason for being sad. This made it all the more terrible and me all the more self destructive. I suppose my thinking was: I will make things terrible in my life so at least then I will have a good reason for this depression. I thought about myself and my sadness-- my nothingness, obsessively. I might even be inclined to say I reveled in it. It was truly disgusting.

The only positive thing that I did do during that time was read lots of books and write. Mostly this was because when you don't sleep and are awake when everyone else is asleep there isn't much else to do other than read or write. So that is what I did.

I read a lot of Tom Robbins's books and so I am not sure from which one I got this notion but it was probably Jitterbug Perfume but possibly Still Life with Woodpecker, maybe even Another Roadside Attraction. Anyway, in one of those books, Mr. Robbins wrote about happiness being a "learned condition". He furthered that by saying that you have to make happiness a habit and went on to say how it takes 2 weeks to break a habit and 3 weeks to create one. Or, something like that.

At any rate, that was for me, as Oprah would say, "a lightbulb moment". Before that I really thought of happiness as something that some people had and others didn't. I guess it is sort of like how it is easy, even natural, for some people to sit still and for others this is something you have to learn and work really hard at--see, that I am still working on. Understandably, I am way less committed to sitting still than happiness.

So, you see, anyway, I never thought about having to work to be happy. Once I understood that happiness took work, I committed myself right then to the habit of being happy. I quit my therapist. I quit my antidepressants. And most importantly, I quit feeling sorry for myself. The habit of sadness took much, much longer than 2 weeks to break and the habit of happiness took even longer to adopt. Being happy is work. Really hard work, sometimes. I have also learned that part of being happy means learning to be grateful and humble. Those were really hard for me too. I. Try. Every. Day. To be all those things. And, obviously, since all this that has happened to Evan, to Justin, to Pam, it really has been so much easier to be grateful and humble. I just wake up now and it is there.

It has taken years and honestly, until I discovered running, I can't say I truly achieved my "habit" of "happiness".

You knew it was coming, didn't you?

That somehow I would work this into another boring post about running. But really, I think it is about more than that. Give me a chance to get there. Running, while a big piece of the pie is not the sum of the whole. I have a point, damn it!

And I well know I am not the only person who has discovered the art of self medication through endorphins. I always have to laugh when I spot some article "scientifically" affirming what thousands of runners already know.

And here is where I am going to wax romantically for a moment about running. Read if you want or skip head. Whatever.

Running is what untangles me.

After I had Carmella I was in a horrible knotted state. Sure, I was ecstatic with my baby but I was so anxious, worried and scared. I was totally freaked out about my new status as mother. I desperately needed to feel like myself, look like myself and know myself again. Going back to running-- even though I certainly didn't feel like it-- I knew would be my quickest route to me. Even after Beau's birth I felt that same anxious snarl again but was less frightful of it because I was confident running would save me again.

Running, crazy as it sounds, relaxes me. As the miles fall away I unravel and can see clearly, think or even feel. My mind can divorce my body and I can actually focus on what it is I need to.

Running is the thing that I do.

I have to say that since last week when Evan got so sick and then--even worse--once he was gone, everything has felt viciously empty.

Even running.

Even being with my kids.

Everything feels very, very, empty.

This has killed me that running has become a dark place. It has always been my savior.

I have not wanted to run-- or really, do anything. But not doing anything feels worse.

You might be surprised to hear that my sister and I did go and run the Atlanta half marathon on Thanksgiving. We didn't yet know the exact nature of Evan's condition and had to wait anyway until the neurologist came on duty later that morning to find out. We'd been up since 1 am and were just sitting at the hospital, not far from the start, hand wringing and pacing. Mom kept saying we should go run and around 4 am we decided to go run since just sitting idly was worse. I think one of the hardest parts of this has been that there is nothing "to do". There is nothing you can do and you just feel so worthless.

It was a prefect day for the race and besides being really sleep deprived I felt physically great. The first few miles were so easy but then "How to Save a Life" by the Fray came on my iPod and I lost it. I. Could. Not. Stop. Crying. If I had seen a single person I knew race side I would have thrown myself in their arms and had them take me back to the hospital.

I wish I could say the race was cathartic. That I solved something or gained some perspective but I didn't. It did not even make me feel better. It did though, let me feel. Time wise I ran the best race I have ever run at Atlanta, so did my sister but instead of triumphant I felt defeated, empty. All I wanted was to do was get back to the hospital.

It was about an hour after we got there that we were told the devastating news.

I didn't run for several days. But I told Ryan he had to make me go on Sunday. And he did and I went and I cried the whole time again. But crying while running has allowed me to be strong in front of my kids. I cried again on Monday when I ran too.

So yes, like blogging, running right now does feel incredibly frivolous, so selfish and absolutely trivial. But those are things that I do. I do not think that by doing them I am going to rid myself or miraculously heal me or anyone of this gaping hole. But I do think it will help heal me and in turn let me help those around me.

Please, do not think that for one second I don't feel horrible guilt and sadness and anger. I am so angry. At what? Nothing. There is no where to place blame but the anger is still there and running is working it out of me. While I run I think about Evan and I talk to him. I don't know. I just don't know. I guess, that probably sounds crazy-- but it is helping me.

Yesterday I ran for 12 miles and it was the first time I did not cry while running. I still thought of Evan and Justin and Pam and Duncan with every footfall. I didn't solve anything or find myself on the other side of this grief but I managed it a little better yesterday. And nope, I don't feel the joy or the happiness or the laughter I normally feel when I run. I did find though that when I laughed with my kids later in the day it wasn't forced or false. I didn't want to shut myself away and sob.

So this brings me back to the thing that I do. I had thought that I would stop blogging because really, where do I go from here? My intention when I started my blog was to make this a positive place. And I just don't know if I can live up to that anymore. And believe me, I know I write about a lot of frivolous crap and silly, self-indulgent things. That is who I am. I have intentionally avoided the more thoughtful topics and tried not be too "deep". (Well, I may still be succeeding on that count but you know what I am saying.) My point is that I certainly do not feel optimistic or positive or like life's little cheerleader anymore-- and that was the well that I was drawing from when I wrote most of my blog entries.

Right now that well is dry and there is a lot of bitterness. A lot. And, who wants to read about that?

But, you know, I think I am going to continue on. You see, while running allows me to workout a lot of emotions; writing really does help me to spill my head. I think right now I really need both to get me through this. So I can't promise that this will be a happy place for awhile, if ever. And, I'll understand if you don't want to come here and read anymore because of that. But, if you asked me, I would say I would like it very much if you would stick around. It is nice to know that people are listening.

Friday, November 24, 2006

If only love were enough

Evan lost his fight. The disease was just too devastating for him. We are beyond ourselves with sadness. I didn't know that there could ever be anything so terrible as this. I am sick about it. Just ill.

Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts and prayers. And please do continue to think of my brother Justin, his wife Pam and their baby Duncan while they try to navigate this life without their precious little boy.

We are forever grateful for the time we had with Evan and heartbroken that we couldn't have him longer. We will always be sad, even angry, for what should have been, what could have been but can never be. We will think of him everyday and never, ever forget the joy and love his being here has given us.

I can only say to you that life is the most amazing gift. Do everything you can with the one you have been blessed with-- enjoy it and relish in it. But most importantly, be there for the people you love. Love them as much as you possibly can and just live in every moment you have with them.

More on Evan

I wish I had some good news but I don't.

The news I posted in my last update is no longer the situation. We are just beyond ourselves with sadness and my heart breaks for my brother and Pam.

Sometime Wednesday or early Thursday morning Evan's brain started swelling. They found that he had bleeding in his brain and that the damage is extensive. What exactly this means we don't know yet but the neurologist was not optimistic in his prognosis. It is devastating news. Yesterday we thought there were some tough decisions that were going to have to be made. It was very long and terrible day for everyone.

However, the Intensivist (head doctor of the ICU) is a bit more optimistic and wants to give Evan's body more time to heal so that they can take him for a MRI and other more extensive tests before any such decisions are made. She gives us hope and that is what we are desperately clinging to right now.

I apologize if that sounds a bit vague but there are just some things I am unable/unwilling to say right now. I just can't begin to tell you how heavy our hearts are.

Thank you again for all your prayers. They right now are Pam's great comfort. So please please keep thinking of her and my brother and our sweet Evan.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Evan Update

This is going to be quick.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers-- they are greatly appreciated.

We've had a bit of good news. It seems that the antibiotics are doing their thing and he is more stable now. The infectious disease doctor seems to feel pretty strongly that he will pull through this but it is going to be an incredibly long and arduous journey for our little guy.

While the disease is under control now it did do some pretty nasty damage. This is most due to DIC an effect from the sepsis. His kidneys have failed and he is currently on dialysis. The infectious disease doctor seemed to think--at least earlier today--that his kidneys may begin functioning again on their own. And we certainly hope so as it will be one less thing to deal with. His legs and ear will need extensive plastic surgery and skin grafts. Where the blood pooled in his legs the tissue is dead and so he will lose a few layers of skin. As the doctor explained it he will be sort of like a burn victim and because of that there will be a high risk of infection.

That is the news I have now. I have been somewhat out of the loop as I took their youngest, Duncan-- who is 6 months old, this afternoon. The ICU is no place for a baby and with Pam being a nursing mom it is pretty hard for her to be away from him for anytime. I just feel terrible for her as both her sons need her so much right now. She is in a terrible place so please save some of your thoughts and prayers for her.

I did get to peek in on Evan when I handed Duncan off. He doesn't look good and is heavily sedated still. But my mom says he looks much better than earlier today. Last night was a really hard and scary night. Hopefully, I pray, he is past the worst of it.

I will post more as I learn more. Thank you again for keeping my family and our precious Evan in your thoughts.


My family is devastated.
My nephew Evan, my brother's oldest boy, is right now in the ICU with bacterial meningitis and septicemia.
In case you don't click on the links I'll just go ahead and tell you that this is a very very bad thing.

See that cute little boy in the pictures?
That is him.
Beautiful little boy isn't he?
He is an amazing sweet 2 1/2 year old little boy who is smart and the absolute biggest joy in my brother Justin and his wife Pam's life.

Right now Justin and Pam are sitting bedside, hovering over their little boy who is in a coma and hooked up to every imaginable machine. His young body is being pumped with bunches of different drugs to keep his organs from failing and to kill this vicious bacteria that is raging a war.

I wish I had good news and could say everything is going to be okay but no one has said that to me so unfortunately I cannot say it. I really, really want to be able to say that more than anything in this whole world.

This is absolutely the most horrifying experience for any parent. Less than 2 days ago Evan was just another little boy with a cold and an ear infection. No, he was not ridiculously bedridden and yes, he has had all his vaccinations. He was sick just like all little kids are when they have a cold: little cranky but active and having fun when distracted. And now he is fighting for his life.

So if you are the praying type please say a whole bunch of prayers for our little Evan. And if you aren't the praying type, that is okay too, but will you please think the best possible thoughts and hope that he will be okay? Because that is all we can do right now is wait and hope.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

One Little, Two Little, Three Little

The kindergarten classes at Carmella's school have a Thanksgiving feast.
The kids got to choose whether they wanted to be an Indian or a pilgrim.

Funny how at the first Thanksgiving there was probably the same ratio of pilgrims to Indians. But since this is not a political blog that is all I have to say about that.

Carmella, unsurprisingly to me, choose to be an Indian.

When she was two they made her be a pilgrim and she was pretty much the unhappiest pilgrim ever. She hated the collar and the bonnet. She got to be both pilgrim and Indian when she was three but she didn't really like the pilgrim costume that year either. And besides when she was the Indian her Indian name was She of the Pink Boots.
The Indian costume is just more her style especially since she gets to wear her boots and a headdress which is much more like a crown than a bonnet is. Last year she got to be an Indian too--of course we had to call her an Indian princess-- but regardless she liked that much better. I also don't think it hurts that Disney has a movie about an Indian princess and not one about a pilgrim. Not to mention the last part of pilgrim is grim.

Carmella and some of her school buddies:Carmella and Abby
Carmella and Cooper

Carmella and me:

Beau vs. Hockey

Carmella Late Night

Carmella pretty much since birth has always denied that she needs sleep or that she needs to eat at meals. She, for the most part, is a pretty self controlled child who keeps her shit together fairly well-- most of the time. That is except when she is ridiculously tired and, of course, won't admit it. Then she completely loses her shit over the most bizarre things. Innocuous, benign things that you wouldn't think would freak anyone out so you are totally blindsided by the freak out. Most of the time it is pretty funny. But we must snicker at her in private as laughing outright at her doesn't ever help. So one must always proceed delicately with all reactions and comments. And that can be incredibly difficult for me.

Sometimes, I just think the poor child got the wrong mom.

Last night the kids and I (Ryan is hunting, again!) had dinner at Meme and Pat's. We didn't get home until about 10ish and they still needed baths. Beau just kind of sat there and complied. I am not entirely sure he was really even awake. You can have whole conversations with Beau while he is asleep (odd that the kid with the speech delay is the sleep talker)so I know it is not out of reason that he can do other stuff while asleep.

Carmella, however, was freaked out about her voice being hoarse due to her cold and kept asking when she would get her regular voice back and what exactly she could do to make that happen sooner. Some how the conversation took a turn and I mistakenly made this dismissive comment:
Me: You'll understand when you are older.
Carmella (eyes big has saucers, face frozen in terror): What?
Me (confused at the reaction): When you're older. Everyone gets old. I use to be your age and now I am this age. Someday you will be too. Happens to everyone.
Carmella(now crying): I don't want to be old like Bubbles and Lala!
Me (suppressing laughter): It is better to be old than dead.
Carmella(crying hysterically): I(sob)just want to be(sob)six. I don't want to(sob) be old.
Me: Don't worry about it. You have a long time until you are old.
Carmella (completely freaking out): What! I don't want to be old for a long time! I want to be six! (sobbing uncontrollably)

I did somehow manage to peel her off the ceiling but please, Lala; in the future do you think you could stop telling her how awful it is to be old?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Marathon Weekend

I am sorry this has taken me so long to get up on the blog. We drove back to Atlanta Monday and I had a sore throat. Thinking nothing of it I ran 6 miles Tuesday morning. By the evening I was totally congested and by Wednesday bedridden. Completely. All day. I went to the doctor Thursday and I have bronchitis and a sinus infection. Let this be a lesson as to why maybe it is not such a great idea to run 26 miles in the rain.

But, I am not a quitter.
And not being a quitter means I sometimes do things that defy logic and good sense.

Mostly though, I am not a quitter because I am ridiculously stubborn. Like when driving back from the Outer Banks Ryan stopped at 7 Eleven to get coffee. Gross, I told him, I don't want coffee from here. Yes you do, he said. It is the best. Trust me, he said. No, I'll just have water, I said. Well, lucky that he bought a big ole giant thing of coffee because it was damn good--- you know, once I finally caved and had a sip.

Anyway, back to the subject of quitting. I want to say to people that there are definitely times when one should quit and one should be okay with that. But for some people it is just really hard to let things go. See, that is the type of person I am. And because of this I sometimes I have to suffer a bit. I think this is where people often say you are "building character". I think I've got lots of character.
Yes, I know this is my marathon post and no I don't have any regrets nor I am talking about quitting because I think I should have quit but rather as an explanation why it never really occurred to me when it was a pretty obvious and understandable choice for some people. But I'll get to all that. Let me start at the beginning. Let me start with the weather.

They say people from the Outer Banks are obsessed with the weather. They watch it all day long. I can understand that because it changed drastically-- almost minute to minute-- the 4 days we were there. And to think, I thought Georgia's weather was a crap shoot. I am telling you, Atlanta: we've got nothing on the Outer Banks. Nothing.

It was a long drive to the Outer Banks, a very long drive and we arrived late Friday afternoon. We were greeted with calm, pleasant weather with the sun streaking through the clouds at sunset. Just gorgeous. I was immediately enamored by the landscape and was reaffirmed in my choice of location marathons.

We went to the Expo and picked up my chip and shirt. Then enjoyed a yummy dinner at theOuter Banks Brewery Station. We also sampled some of their very tasty beer. I need to remember to stay away from the IPA's because even though I only have 2 they totally toss me-- not enough for hangover-- but definitely make me sillier than 2 beers normally do.

Saturday we got up early and went to Jockey Ridge-- the largest sand dune on the east coast. It was pretty neat but it seemed like never ending sand so we gave up on it and headed for Hatteras Island. Okay, so there is one instance I did quit but I am just not all that interested in sand.
It was a surprisingly hot day. Sunny and temperatures in the 80's. Silly me didn't pack shorts (it being November and all what could I have been thinking). So Ryan-- you guys are never going to believe this-- let me go to the Outlet Mall and buy a whole new outfit. He hates to shop. Hates it. But he was actually quite pleasant to be with. He even got into it and picked some stuff out for himself. I really, really love my new shoes. They are even flats and you know I hate flats. Flats let people know I am not really 5'8. But these are great and very comfy.
After an outfit change we lunched on Hatteras and saw the famous light house. Then we took a real live ferry over to Ocracoke Island. I kind of thought the ferry was going to be much cooler than it was. I do love boats though so I was pretty excited that I got to be on one this trip.

On Ocracoke we wandered around and bought souvenirs and finished by having dinner at the Back Porch. Yummy but I was really tired. I had to drive back since Ryan indulged quite a bit. It was very hard for me to drive. The road was long and flat and very dark. My eyes were very tired. I kept getting hypnotized by the road. I was so relieved to be back at the room.

Before we had left that morning I had laid out all my clothes and pinned my number on my shirt. I already knew that it was suppose to rain so I didn't bother to look at the weather. I was asleep before 10 pm.

I got up promptly at 4:30 am. On the nights prior to races I am always like a kid on Christmas. I wake up every hour paranoid that I am going to miss my start or over sleep. I am a morning person. I don't know that I have ever over slept. It is a ridiculous worry on my part but I have yet to figure out a way to conquer it. Glass a wine does seem to help though.

I had coffee, water and ate my Uncle Sam's. Then I showered and shaved and dressed. I did my yoga. Then I went outside and saw that it was not raining and was calm. I was hopeful. At 5:35 a.m. I left for the shuttle. It was there waiting for me, well not just me. I chatted on the ride to the start with a woman from Denver. This was to be her 5th marathon and she told me about her others. I never asked her name. Actually, I always forget to ask peoples names. At any rate I hope she had a good race.

I don't know what time we got to the start but the darkness was fading into light. A man was we got off the bus asked me about skirt and if I liked it. I told him about utilikilts and all the handy pockets. He didn't seem too keen on it saying he liked skirts for girls. Oh well. No male converts to the skirt yet.

Then I waited in an enormously long line for the bathroom and worried about missing the start. I chatted with a woman and her husband. It was her first marathon. He wasn't really entered and was just going to run parts with her. I thought that was very sweet of him. I wonder if he ran the whole way because I saw him running with her when I was leaving Roanonke after finishing. She only had few miles to go so I think she finished in probably around 4 and half hours. I was glad to see her hang in there.

I got to the start with 10 minutes to spare. I didn't really talk to anyone but placed myself with the 8 minute pacers. I checked Garmin. I had set us to race for a finish of 3:37. Very optimistic, I know, but I was feeling pretty confident.

The gun went and so did I and all the other runners. The day was calm and quiet looking. In my head was Coldplay's "Clocks." I start almost every long run and definitely every long race with this song. It helps me get focused and to that running place.

I was amazed that already there were tons of spectators out cheering the runners on. I cannot tell you amazing the Outer Bankers were throughout the race. And once the rain hit I made certain to thank them as they cheered me on or handed me water. There were even kids out there and cheerleaders with their sad wet pom poms cheering the runners on. As a runner you don't often feel welcome everywhere and in every race but in the Outer Banks I felt like a valued guest. It was nice. Very nice.

I should add here that I wore my "Run Like A Girl" shirt so from the women I got compliments and go girl go! And from the men Run Girl Run! It was nice to be singled out and noticed. I think I will try to wear a shirt that has some sort of saying on it for all my marathons.

The first few miles were in residential backroads and you weaved around a view of the sound. We headed into the Wright Brother's Memorial at Kitty Hawk. There we ran on a concrete path past an airstrip with some planes and then around the hill with the monument and then we ran through some grass. I may have that a bit backwards but we did something like that. At some point around this time we had to cross a busy road and there was a gap between me and the runners ahead and behind me. A police officer stopped me and wouldn't allow me to cross. Other runners piled up behind me. I was very confused as to why he wasn't letting us cross. I scanned the road thinking maybe an accident had happened. The spectators booed him and said "let the runners go! It is about the runners!" As the pack around me grew a really pissed off man bolted out and effectively stopped traffic and I and the rest of the runners followed him. He and another guy and I exchanged some choice words about the incident as we ran on trying to make up time.

Ryan, I think, snapped this picture sometime in the 8th mile or so when we ran into the Nag's Head Woods. The woods were quiet and beautiful and the rain that had started fall I no longer felt because of the heavy tree cover. We ran on what looked like an old logging trail or a dirt road. It was wide and the dirt packed. Actually it was pretty nice terrain if I had been more confident of it. I was a bit worried as it looked like it could get really muddy and thus slippery but it wasn't a concern for me since I was early on in the game. I am not sure how long the course was in the woods, maybe 3 miles but after a couple of miles I noticed a head of me a runner make a sharp left and was going up a definite hill. Ugh, what they heck, I thought this was a flat course except for the bridge around 22 miles? When I reach the turn I see that it is a hill but worse it is a trail. A real trail with signs that say watch for exposed roots. Ugh, I didn't plan for this. I have never run on a trail. I like my roads. I have tendency to roll my ankle in unpacked terrain. They had covered the trail with mulch and pine straw and it was very difficult for me to run on. I felt like I couldn't get my footing. The trail was also very narrow so we were single file and it was very difficult to pass. I don't think this part was actually very long but it seemed like an eternity and I cannot tell you how happy I was to be out of the woods--or so I thought.

Ryan was waiting for me when we exited the path. I had entered the woods doing a 7:40 pace and exited doing an 8:06 pace. I was not happy. My feet were hurting really bad too. Not sure why but I guess from me trying to compensate on the unstable terrain I must have done something funky with my feet. They have never felt like that before. Everything else though felt okay.

At this point the rain started to fall--lightly though, and it felt nice. We turned off the main highway and ran back into residential neighborhoods. Here the road was awful and did nothing for my already suffering feet. It was paved bumpy rock. I almost had a collision with another runner trying to find a more worn area of the road. I tried to distract myself with views of the sound and the cheers from the very enthusiastic Outer Bankers.

I was relieved when we turned back on Croatan Highway because of the smooth pavement. We soon passed the half way mark and I was doing okay with a split of around an hour and 44 minutes. Just as I was getting my groove on the rain started to fall harder. And here is where the miles just blur. We weaved back into the residential and back out onto the highway several times so I am not exactly sure which mile was when. The rain was at it's absolute worst out on the highway though somewhere around miles 16,17, 18 and 19. Ryan has that he saw me sometime then around 9:15 and then he saw me again at mile 20 around 9:50 am. So 35 minutes for 4 miles is pretty crappy for me but considering the conditions I think understandable.

Those were the most miserable miles of my life. The rain was awful. The sky was black and the rain pounded into my face and the wind gusted from the sides. Thank God for my visor as it offered a little reprieve from the driving rain. I just ducked down and focused on not falling. I kept telling myself less than 10 miles. I can do it. I've run in the rain for 10 miles before. Only an hour and half tops more. Go. Stay with it. Go. Do not waste all your hard work.

While I was giving myself my motivational pep talk I realized others were dropping out. There was guy I passed who was yelling back at his brother for bailing. He looked to me and said "My brother is ditching me!" And all I could think was I can't exactly blame him. I couldn't be anyone's cheerleader other than my own. I had to laugh when "Beautiful Day" by U2 came fell into rotation on my iPod. It was funny at how horrible the rain was. It was just a joke how bad it was.

A little ways later I ran up on two men. Two very fit looking men, I should say. I watched as they shook hands and then the one on the right stepped off the course and just quit. I couldn't believe it. We had less than 7 miles to go and the weather was easing up. Why quit now?

I just kept telling myself that if I made it over the bridge I would be home free. I could struggle those last 3 miles however but I would finish if I could make it over the bridge.

By the time I hit the bridge the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to peak its way out of the clouds. It wasn't blue but grey skies with light again, and I was thankful for that. But now the temperature had dropped into the 40's and the wind would hit me with hard gusts every now and again as I climbed the hill that was the bridge. The view from the bridge was breathtaking and carried me over it as if it was nothing. And compared to the previous miles; it was nothing.

My hips were aching. I guess because the shock absorption of my shoes being rendered useless by the gallons of water each shoe now contained. It felt like I was running barefoot with little lead weights tethered to each leg. But I didn't care because I only had 3 miles left and I can do a 5k on tired legs. I imagined myself stepping on the treadmill the day after a long run loathing the speed workout head of me. Only instead of the loathing that I normally feel, I was filled with hope and with the knowledge that I have run hard on legs this tired before. That I could do it. I looked at my clock and almost started crying with joy that I would most definitely qualify for Boston. I had almost but let that goal go in the rain focusing instead on just finishing and getting it done.
Leaving the bridge you make a right onto Roanoke Island. It was beautiful and while I didn't really have the energy to enjoy the sights of downtown Manteo I didn't suffer those last miles because it was so picturesque. I ran them strong and on pace. The only thing that I did not enjoy was weaving around the half marathon walkers who would at times be 3 or 4 abreast.

The course weaved through the back roads of Manteo to the high school and then through the parking lot to the track. It was a bit weird and convoluted but whatever. I haven't ever really run on a track so I kind of enjoyed making that round to the finish. And I was very happy when I saw the time clock reading 3:43 and knew that my chip time would be even faster.
I have to say that race was the hardest thing I have ever done except for giving birth to my first child and that it because I had a 42 hour labor with a botched epidural and I was scared to death.

I certainly wasn't scared during the race but I was very frustrated. This race confirmed for me, after seeing many runners fitter looking than I struggle and sometimes quit, that 90% of running is mental. I am proud that I got myself through it and met and surpassed my goal. I am a little disappointed that I didn't finish faster as I think I could have run it 5 minutes faster had it been a "perfect" day.
But it is what is.
And I will say for myself that I ran every single mile; as there is no walking in the rain. I stopped only at the aid stations long enough to down the water and Gatorade. But other than that, I ran the whole way-- which is a huge success in my book.

After I cleaned up and had some water and a Clif bar that tasted like dried leaves and chocolate we went back to Roanoke and walked around Manteo and lunched at a fabulous restaurant called theFull Moon Cafe and enjoyed a few celebratory beers (psst,shrimp and crab enchiladas are to die for). The day had cleared up to be cold and with clouds and sun and the occasional light shower. How much I would have preferred that during the race.
After lunch we went to the Elizabethan Gardens and roamed around those for a bit.
We finished off the day at The Weeping Radish Brewery and then went for dinner at the Outer Banks Brewery Station one last time. There were lots of other race finishers there so it was great to chat with them and hear their race stories. It was a great close to a very long and eventful day. Oh, and by this time it was again a deluge outside.

So would I do this race again?
Will I?
No, it is too far for me to drive.
But I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a beautiful course with great spectators and great place to visit with lots to do. So go, make a long weekend out of it. I just hope you have better race weather than me.
One last thing--if you can even stand to read anymore-- rather than make this a separate post about my missing time I'll get it out here. I mentioned here that my time had gone MIA. Well thanks to the hard work of Kevin Hupp at Kalerunning he was able to recover my finish time. I have no recorded splits because, as he determined, the "guts" or transconder or whatever the brains of it is called fell out at some point. So I am very appreciative that he took the time to find it and rectify the problem (unlike my other chip incident.)

So what's next?
The Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving. I just checked the weather and it is suppose to be in the 60's and sunny. I can't tell you how tempting it is to do the full. I know that is crazy and I'm not going to do it since I want to have great time on Thanksgiving on legs that don't lock up.

And after that?
The GA ING Marathon in March. I will not be doing Boston this year. My qualifying time is good for 18 months so I will do Boston in 2008. I just really don't want to miss out on the inaugural run in the place where I have lived my entire life. Just seems like I should be here for it.

It is Official

I have been in a huge state of panic about my time not being included in the official results. I cannot even begin to tell you the amount of tears and disappointment that has been involved.

I shot off a bunch of emails Sunday and yesterday to anyone I thought could help me and got a response this morning. So without much ado:

My official time was 3 hours 42 minutes and 45 seconds!!!!!

That's right, baby. Look. At. Me: eating that cake and licking the extra icing off my fingers. 26 minutes off my Atlanta marathon time and a BQ and 3 minutes to spare.
You have no idea how hard fought that time was.
No. I. Dea.

My overall place out of 1,495 runners was 211.
I was 6th place out of 101 females in my age group.
I have no split times recorded so I guess the chip malfunctioned. (They keep asking me if I was wearing it on my shoe. It isn't like this is my first race and I don't know how to use the damn thing. Of course I was wearing it on my shoe.)
I do remember my half time though-- according to my watch-- was around an hour and 44 minutes. 20 miles was around 2 hours and 50 minutes, I think. So no negative split but when you read my race report I think you will understand why. And I promise it is coming later today or tomorrow.
Thanks again everyone for all the support and the cheers.

Monday, November 13, 2006

What Skirt Did

Skirt ran a long race yesterday.
Skirt got really really wet.
Skirt preserved and kicked ass.
Skirt, as they say, built character.

I'll post a full report when I get home and if my results are ever posted I'll be able to give you my exact time. Yet again, it is looking like Champion chip failed me. More on this later. I am beyond upset.

So here is the low down: the weather sucked like you wouldn't believe. The course had many surprises that I was not prepared for. But nonetheless, I did it and I got gravy. A BQ with a few minutes to spare.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

William's Run Race Report

I am in marathon taper madness.
I am getting fat from carb loading and not running 60 miles a week.
Maybe some of this puffiness is/was PMS bloat (isn't it great how you guys know my cycle! Doesn't that make you feel closer to me?). I'll let you know next week if my stomach goes back to not looking 3 months preggo and then I can determine if this tummy muffin is PMS water or taper fat or just carbloading bloat. Whatever it is I feel a bit like a cactus right now. Skirt is not as cute with a puffy tummy, BTW.

To combat the reduced mileage and to keep from going crazy I have taken advantage of my recent training efforts and been running a few races. Last weekend, as you regular readers will recall, I ran the Silver Comet Half marathon and rocked it by shaving 10 minutes off my personal record and getting 2nd place in my age group. Well, yesterday morning I ran a William's Run. I did the 10k. There was also a 5k, a 2k walk and a tot trot (supposedly).

I am not certain if most marathon plans recommend that you run races like this in your taper, but I doubt it. But then again I tend to think most tapers are a bit slack and have you treat yourself with kidgloves. We'll see come next Sunday if my way works.

I hadn't planned on running any race this weekend but I knew a couple of friends who were going to be there and since Ryan was out of town, Bubbles out of town and I am banned from Lala's until she finishes her paintings for her show later this month I had no one to watch the kids. The thought of being banished to the treadmill was just too depressing. However, my Dad was easily persuaded to come watch the kids while I ran--especially since the start was at his favorite Starbucks. As it turned out I only had Beau since Meme and Pat had graciously let Carmella spend the night Friday. Beau was not jealous as he normally would be of this because I told him he got to do a race too. You see, Beau and I race a lot. Sometimes we really are having a race but most times it is really a chase, not a race. He always wins because his shoes are faster. This is mostly because every shoe is faster than the 3 inch heels I typically wear.

Unfortunately, it proved to be very cold yesterday morning. But me, ever the idiot, decided that I had to wear new skirt: "Blackie". And my new shirt that says "Run Like a Girl". In vain I have scoured Atlanta's running and athletic stores for over the calf compression socks to complete my ensemble and have found none. I may order some online but in looking at the preliminary weather report for the marathon (cloudy, 58 low/73 high) I don't think I will want them.

I wore pants under skirt until race time and I didn't think it felt all that cold but let me assure you that the open airiness that skirt allows for nearly froze my ass off. There was quite the breeze up there. And while I was running I actually thought about you men and how a skirt totally wouldn't work with your equipment on colder days. So maybe, should you decide to go with one of the utilikilts, only wear them in the warmer temps. Well, that is, unless you like shrinkage.

I swear I could not feel my legs or feet at all the first 2 miles and I never really got warm. I did manage to keep a fairly even pace though--around 7:15. I had thought I would be able to push it down at the end but my legs just wouldn't permit it. Cardiovascular wise I could have handled it but my muscles would not cooperate. I had very optimistically hoped I could do it in under 42 minutes but realistically I knew it would be around 45-46 minutes. And it was: 45 minutes and 20 something seconds; a 2 minute pr off last year's 10k. So I can't complain but I can't help but feel a little disappointed. I'll try again in another month or 2 for a better time.

I must also give props to my friend Camille on her first race ever. She did the 5k and got 2nd in her age group.
I am super impressed that she came out in the cold to run. Please read her own account of the race at her blog here.

They never did the tot trot and that really pissed me off but I guess there weren't very many kids there so maybe that is why. At any rate, Beau didn't really care since I made him up a race and he got to win.
That is what happens when your only competition is a balloon tied to your arm. Gooo Beau!!!
Taper breakdown this week:
Sunday: rest
Monday: 5k on the treadmill in 22:20 and then weights.
Tuesday: 8 miles in an hour and 7 minutes
Wednesday: 7 miles in 58 minutes
Thursday: 7 miles in 56 minutes.
Friday: 4 miles in 30 minutes and weights.
Saturday: 10k in 45:20
MPW: 35
Shrug, I guess that is okay.
Getting nervous.
Please pray I have good weather (read no rain).