12.08.2011

half [marathon] of my heart

i ran a half marathon, you guys.

actually, WE ran a half marathon:

team finding my feet.

i want to tell you every single detail of our amazing weekend, but it's just too much. so i am just going to focus on the race. (raechel's account is already up)

rest assured that our team rocks. meeting internet friends in real life is surreal and a tad scary. you never know when you're going to run into an organ harvester instead of just a pal. but this bunch was 100% pals and we all had way much fun getting to know each other, hanging out and bonding over this shared trial/accomplishment.

the running of the miles was really just a small part of the weekend of bonding and laughing and hijinks, and all that stuff will stick with me and with our group for a long time.

we spent the summer training together in our home towns and only communicating over email and nike plus, so getting everyone in the same room was a lot like finally giving birth and getting to meet your baby face to face after growing along with it, sight unseen, for months. this team is my baby. and bonus: it includes my baby daddy.

this half-marathon-as-having-a-baby metaphor was rampant the entire time.

team FMF: i heart yall. i will run many minutes behind you all any day of the week.

after carbing up with the team on friday night, our hotel room had lights out (except for my headlamp because i have to read before sleep) at about 9 pm to be ready for our 5:45 am wake up time. it was me, jesse, ryan and raechel sharing a room. ryan is a gold medalist in snoring so he nobly took the couch in the adjoining living room to let the runners get some sleep.

ryan completed the chicago FULL marathon in october so he was just there to support raechel and the team this time. it was great to have his experience, and as an added bonus pretend like he was a running snob every time he would say, "well for the full..." or "in chicago..." i actually did get a lot of helpful tips from him all the while still rolling my eyes and saying, "yeah, you ran a full, we get it. come down off your high horse, richy."

despite the worst night of sleep EVER thanks to some soccer tournament that was also in town (i think it was the juvenile delinquent loud and disruptive cup 2011), we heard the alarm and were not tempted to sleep more. funy how 13.1 miles looming over you makes your heart pump.

we got dressed in our running stuff, complete with cheap accessories we could just throw down on the course and not miss once it warmed up and our hearts got pumping (god bless the target dollar section).

we choked down smoothies, clif bars and bananas as we rode through the dark streets of memphis towards the starting line. we were all predicting how emotional we would be by the time we finished.

we parked and walked to the starting line. we met up with everyone, posed for some pictures from official race photographers, ryan and our own cell phones (all the pics in this post come from one of those sources...the official photos are just screen shots of the proofs that i grabbed until i decide which to buy), pinned on race bibs, found where our starting corrals would be (based on desired pace/finish times), and got our gear situated and ready.

making an uproariously hilarious joke to katie vick when she asked me to pin on her bib. i said, "now you know, i am kind of a professional sew-er, so dont be surprised if i pin this on really awesomely." i also showed her how to look your most intelligent in a photo. youre welcome, and youre welcome!

let the record show that i jumped ON three and he took the picture on, like, five. i was on my way down. i've still got hops, dont you worry. also, jesse is amazing a million

like adorable happy criminals showing our numbers off

oh, i like her lots and lots. even though we kind of hate how adorable and tiny she is, we mostly just need to love her because of awesome.

ok, my mom specifically requested this post so that she could, as she put it: "put it on the refrigerator in the kitchen next to where judah eats when he is at my house so that he can see how wholesome foods will make him big and strong and lean and mean." my question: is this picture the motivational carrot or the stick? is the caption on her fridge beneath it, "reach for the stars!" or "chickfila: a cautionary tale?"

also: not pregnant. trick of the light.

jesse and i had to check our bags for the the race and saying goodbye to my georgia tech sweatpants was HARD. not only because it exposed my ample, ultrawhite thighs amdist a sea of runners' legs and mostly long-pants, but also because it was eerily familiar to when i had to take them off when i checked into the hospital to have layla. just like then, i knew i wouldn't be reunited with my friendly, beloved pants until i had gone through the fire and was on the other side again.

my special christmas burglar elf bandit

jesse and i took one last potty break and the great wall of port-a-potties (ashley kirnan texted me to see where i was since we thought we'd be in the same starting corral since i am slow and she has a a million almost-stress fractures and had strep that day, and i texted her back, "i'm bunnying." thank you judah for years of poop humor).

we took one last pic, said goodbye-- him heading to his 9 minute mile pace group and me heading to my 13 minute mile one.

we arent equally yoked in the running department. i'm at peace with it.

farewell, hottie, see you on the other side!

i headed way, way way, back in the throng of people to my corral. i spotted my pace team leader hold his sign. i had looked him up online a few days prior by putting in my desired finish time (under 3 hours) and was pleased to find a group for we the turtles.

his bio listed him at 63 (whatEVER!!!) and when asked why someone should run in his pace group, his answer was, "to experience the fun of racewalking!"

what in the HAY-UHL!?!?!? my pace leader is a geriatric walker!!! and i am going the same speed at my fastest run. i dropped a few pounds in ego weight at that point which i figured would make me more aerodynamic.

since we were so so so far back from the actual starting line, i had a long time to wait by myself. this is where my emotions got the better of me.

when i signed up for this race, i must admit that it was more because it was near-ish and convenient and to do it with rae and friends, and not because i was crazy passionate about the cause. OBVIOUSLY i detest childhood cancer, but it isnt super, extra-personal to me.

i do happily know two amazing survivors: my sister in law elena who kicked leukemia's ass over 20 years ago and audrey, the daughter of our mentors, who was the flower girl in our wedding, who finished treatment almost a year ago and is cancer free right now. i knew i wanted to take them along with me during the run so jesse and i both wrote their names on our arms in sharpie to honor their battles in our own teensy way.

repping those chicas!

me and audrey at some event...cant quite place it (please remember that i looked like this once in my life...it will help you get through the rest of the pics)

just getting a taste of what a shit-bomb cancer was for these familes--hearing about it from jesse and his parents, and visiting and talking with audrey and her family in 2010 and this year as she went through her battle-- was enough to really make me believe that childhood cancer is one of the yuckiest visible stains that the brokenness and carnage of sin and the fall have left on this earth. but even still, audrey and elena's stories have happy endings.

they got hit with the bomb, but the nuclear payload didnt detonate.

i have never seen or experienced firsthand the very worst of what this disease can do to happy healthy children who werent born "cancer kids" but whose lives end that way.

my place in the corral. the starting line if left down that intersection

in the corral, all alone as i looked ahead and saw the backs of thousands, i started to see and read the shirts that everyone was wearing. lots of them were funny, "dear god, please let there be someone behind me to read this, " and "if found, please drag across the finish line."

but the first one that grabbed me was a full color picture of a little boy with the dates October 11, 2008-March 13, 2011 underneath.

it was like getting punched in the stomach. this gorgeous two and half year old boy had died, had been snatched from his parents arms because of this disgusting disease. he was judah's age.

i looked at the pavement as the tears built.

it got real at that point. i knew st. jude already had my money and that my actual running of the race didnt really do anything for the families affected by cancer, but the two became linked at that point.

i looked around some more, praying every time as i saw a birthdate listed that it wouldn't be bracketed by deathdate; praying for an open hyphen but not finding lots of them:

"running for my 6 year old son elijah: 11 surgeries, 7 brain surgeries, wheelchair bound, completely blind due to tumors"

"team lucy"

"missing our angel" with a picture of an infant girl about layla's age, looking miserable in a hospital bed.

i was a mess. even the st. jude logo on people's shirts was getting me: a little child with his hands together and head bowed in prayer.

around 8:15 (the start for the #1 corral of elite racers was at 8) we starting moving forward. i could hear music playing and the announcer talking up ahead.

we turned left onto the actual street that the starting line was on--yes i was so far back that i was on a different street to begin with--and i could finally make out the starting line way up ahead.

see the start waaaaaaaaay off in the distance?

they were releasing the corrals a few minutes apart to spread out the crowd. so we fell into a nervous shuffle rhythm of walk. wait. walk. wait.

as i heard #8 and #9 released, i knew jesse was on his way. godspeed, my man!

i looked up and could finally make out that the starting line said "get ready to run for THEIR lives." more tears.

10, 11, 12, and finally 13 (there were actually 16 total corrals). we came up and waited for our countdown.

i checked my ipod and my laces one last time and savored my final moments of no exertion or movement. for the next 3-ish hours i would be running or walking or limping or crawling.

blammo. we were off.

where's wald-eight?

i knew that ryan would be taking pictures at .5 miles and again at 3 miles and he would also be available to grab any clothes we didnt need anymore as we warmed up. my peasant hat and gloves i didnt care about and bought them cheap to be disposable, but so help me, i wasnt going to lose my long sleeved 15k shirt. i worked hard for that mess and if i had to wear it as a sassy belt for 13 miles, i would, but i would prefer to leave it with a friend (who would hopefully not sniff it).

at maybe a quarter or a mile, i was rounding the basketball arena where the grizzlies play (or dont play, as it were, thanks NBA players, you are heroes fighting for the little guy!). there were parking decks and garages nearby to support the arena. hilariously, as i am just getting my rhythm sorted out and finally getting some space, i see a blinking red sign flashing, "SLOW SLOW SLOW."

it was calling me out! i thought it was a practical joke, then realized that is was for cars entering the garage so they didnt scrape their bottoms on the incline. ha. in my head it had been green and said "FAST" for the first corrals of runners and then gradually faded to red and SLOW for the rest of us.

at .5 miles i was still pretty chilly so i still had on my hat and gloves and was obviously feeling fine. i spotted ryan and broke stride momentarily to flash an adorable julia roberts-esque smile and cute little jumping wave to the camera. or so i thought:

what i actually gave was: drunken feudal serf/mime doing a star jump and deranged albino performing a breast self-exam and enjoying it a little too much.

clearly there is some disparity between what i actually look like versus how i picture myself in my head. going to need to work on merging those.

just after i passed ryan and ryan (ashley k's husband who was also amazing support staff) i started to have a stomach cramp- like a stitch. i have never had one of these ever. ruh-roh. i hadnt even gone a mile yet! i tried to lean to the opposite side and stretch it out but it was still pretty uncomfy.

i felt my palms break out in panic sweat, picturing my result: "Reight Dullees-DNF withdrawn after .75 miles due to tummy ouchie." that's what it would say, yall! oh the shame.

luckily, just as i passed the 1 mile marker, a fit of horrified laughter blasted the stitch away. this middle aged man was running with a female companion in the most inappropriate shorts. they were SO SO SO short and also breezy and slit up the sides. i was getting an eyeful of rear man-thigh. hairy, pale, in-motion man thigh.

he was talking really loud and was kind of a goober to me. his friend coughed and he turns around to her and says in a horrified voice, "oh that's a WET cough!" something about that was so yuck and intimate (paired with his man thighs) that i just bust out laughing. awesome. stitch gone.

mile 2 was GORGEOUS! we wended our way down a hairpin turn and all of a sudden there was the mighty mississip' sprawled out before us with bridges and barges and boats. it was really freaking huge and surprisingly gorgeous. on the other side was a steep hill, at the top of which were really pretty riverfront houses.

i ditched my gloves and hat at this point and started to resemble a female again.

mile 2 highlight: the spectator holding a sign that said, "run fast: i farted." i laughed, because, joke's on you, i did too!

mile 3 and i was feeling good. i was warming up and doing a great pace. 9 minutes running, 1 minute walking. i wont lie, even at this tiny distance, i was looking forward to those walk intervals every time.

i took off my long sleeves, made my sassy belt and started to look out for the ryans. we headed into the famed beale street area and there were TONS of people and bands and signs and photographers. it was awesome.

warning: if you flash a peace sign behind me to a camera man, i will make fun of you a little bit on my blog. consider yourself warned

my pony was having a BLAST! after it was set free from it's feudal serf cap of bald-dom

swear i wasnt walking here. also i dont remember ever being this friendly looking in my life, much less at the race.

"ahahahaha, we're having so much fun!"

ryan was supposed to be at the turn, but i didnt see him. then at the last moment, the other ryan sees me and pops out offering to take my shirt. glory!

no more special accessories. just me like i had been on all of my runs through the evil heat of georgia summer and fall: shirt, shorts, shoes, socks and ipod. oh yeah, plus some energy chews i had in my bra.

i'm the thoughtful-est

nope, still not walking. seriously

running full out.

just before mile 4 i had another emotional whomp. in one intersection there was a group of about twenty kids doing a choreographed dance in matching shirts. the tears came when i realized that they all had down syndrome, just like our sister elena.

i am in love with them

elena LOVES to dance and perform, so seeing these gorgeous, beaming faces dancing their hearts out totally reminded me of elena, and made me think of how i am SO blessed to have her in my life and that cancer didnt steal a single one of her dances.

i cheered and clapped (and cried happy love tears) with the rest of the runners who had instantly become the cheerleaders rather than the cheered on for this group of kids with a magical 47th chromosome.

at mile 4 the fanfare of the really touristy district of memphis was behind us and at some weird glass pyramid that i assume is not the tennessee branch of the louvre, we were making the turn to put the river behind us.

running past the luxor (?)

still not a walk

i had been seeing full color signs inserted in ground beside the course every now and then that said "run for jake" and had a picture of a really cute 2 or 3 year old little boy who had lost his hair from chemo on them. it was a total motivator. during this mile i saw another one, in the same purple and yellow colors, with his picture on it, a picture of him with all of his hair, clearly from before his diagnosis, that said, "run to remember jake." tears. fuck cancer.

at that point we entered the actual st. jude campus. there were people everywhere cheering like mad. i happened to be listening to coldplay's "paradise" at that point and it was like a slow motion montage.

the juxtaposition of the words of that song and chris martin's falsetto, playing in my ears and the sights of the happy, encouraging crowd, glittering pom poms against the visuals of why this place exists started to rock me.

this could be para, para, paradise

signs being held with names, birth- and death- dates of children who went from childhood to heaven because of cancer, of the huge buildings containing children going through disgusting, horrific pain, of the scenes that must unfold inside pretty regularly: parents watching their child take a final breath, holding them for the last time, knowing their beloved child's life, but also their pain, is over. sobbing and praying them into the arms of jesus.

this could be para, para, paradise

i honestly didnt see a lot of what was going on here because my eyes were flooded. i just ran on, looking down at the pavement. i wanted to hold my kids so hard right then. i wanted to hold those parents through the unimaginable. to say, screw cancer, screw the devil, it WILL be paradise one day, jesus has overcome even this.

and thinking that, this lyric hits me:

And so lying underneath those stormy skiesShe'd say, "oh, ohohohoh I know the sun must set to rise"this could be para, para, paradise
at this point, i am going to be honest, i hit my emotional high point. with 8 miles still to go, i was fried.
i had been going through the emotional journey of realizing, it's not about me running a race, that's nothing. it's about these kids and their families and this awful disease. but then i get the lightning bolt of, it's not even about that, really. this whole life and all of the gross suffering and pain is just because the sun has to set so it can rise. that's the story we humans have written for ourselves. jesus himself had to die so he could rise.
it's kind of a big thought to wrap your head around while trying to remember how to oxygenate your blood (answer: breathe).
on the way out of the st. jude campus i saw a twenty-something woman holding a sign that said, "because you run, i'm a SURVIVOR." that was awesome. it might not be 100% true in a causal or time-space sense, or according to her doctors, but i got the point and the encouragement enough to bring me back to operational.
at the water station of mile 5, i rewarded myself with 4 of my gummie chomps energy chews. the package was nice and humidly breasty from being in my bra all along. stuffing the half full pack back in was not fun. "stay out of the MAARRRSH!" it was swampy in there.
all of mile 5, 6, and 7 we were on a big straightaway into a residential area. i knew i had a steady pace because i could see that damned old race walker just ahead of me the whole time, looking like he was doing nothing more strenuous than heading to claim his bingo prize or water his azaleas.
between mile 6 and 7, just before the blessed halfway point, i saw a police motorcycle headed towards us on the other side of the divided street. i then realized that he was the front of the entire race, with the lead runner right behind him.
the course was set up so that the half marathoners and the full marathoners ran together from the start until after the 12th mile. the halfsters would then split off to their finished and those poor insane marathon bastards would go for 14 more miles on the extra part of the route.
since i knew our half route didnt include coming back to this area, like this runner was, i knew he had to AT LEAST be beyond his 12th mile and into marathoner-only territory. if he was with the #1 corral group, he had a 22 minute head start on me just due to the time it took me to get up to the line. and at this point in my run (6.5 miles in) i had been going for just under an hour and a half. so i was trying to guess what mile he was at.
with him being at least twice as fast as me and then with the extra 22 minutes, i guessed he was maybe on mile 16 or 17. this was mind boggling to me that he could get so far ahead in such short amount of time.
well, after the race, i checked out out the map and it turns out he was on MILE 23!!! i was on mile 6.5. with just a 22 minute head start, he had gotten almost 17 miles in front of me.
think about how long it takes to get that far in front of another driver IN A CAR. he was on foot!
so yeah, i clapped pretty loud for him and tried not to think about what that said about my speed.
it was at this portion of the race that i spotted another notable pair of racers. these two 30 ish women were dressed identically, in orange long sleeved tops and black running pants. they were the same height and i think they were running together to set some sort of guinness record for the most dissimilar body types. the brunette was the most apple shaped woman i have ever seen with toothpick legs and a very barrell-ish torso (not fat, just so stout through there) and her friend had a teeeeeny waist and then kardshian-esque curves leading to the most accommodating pair of birthing hips i have ever seen (i've i seen plenty...in my mirror). they looked like they had been in a magician's saw-the-lady-in-half trick and then he had mixed up the boxes and put the back together backwards. i marveled at how funny and different we humans can be from each other and still be beautiful.
mile 7's deep thoughts on the human form brought to you by asics. and delirium.
at mile 8 i started to feel yuck. we headed into overton park where the zoo is. when i saw the sign pointing our way that said, "zoo service entrance," i started to suspect that i would not be cavorting the miles away with happy penguins. this turned out to be the case. it was a hilly, twisty mile with a view of just the backsides of all the zoo buildings. color me bummed. at least i never smelled the zoo smell like some of my teammates said they did. that would have be insult to injury.
i was struggling here. walking more than a minute at a time, and even falling farther behind my pace guy, who had ceased to be some old dude in my head and had become a steely athlete to be admired. i should be so lucky as to touch his nylon fanny pack or white knee-high socks.
i slammed my remaining 4 energy chews as i passed a mean sign that said, "run, walkers, run!" it wasnt even being held by anyone...it was just sitting on a table. some people CANT run, ya big jackass sign! leave us alone, bully!
mile 9 hits and at the water station are a bunch of youths. they were playing booty rap and it was kind of funny. they sort of came out of nowhere and were so funny and alarming (remember i was still gun shy from the truants who had been running amok slamming doors in the hotel the night before) that i grabbed my delicious cup of gatorade and promptly dropped it right on my shoe.
lemon-lime toes. and no drink. curses.
right at mile 9.5 was when i entered the darkness of my run and the flagging of my determination. it featured a 2 mile straightaway through some of memphis's seedier areas and was almost entirely uphill.
it strangely started off by receiving a text from jesse saying he had finished and had hit his amazing goal of under 2 hours (he made it by 15 seconds!). i was so proud of him, but knowing for sure that we werent suffering through this simultaneously made me feel kind of lonely even though i was never with him.
fievel says, "it helps to think we're sleeping underneath the same big sky," and that was how i had felt during the whole race about jesse and me doing this endeavor together, it helped to know we were sweating ourselves swampy on the same course at the same time, and when that was done it was like he had had his baby and was cuddling it, and i still had an hour on contractions left.
here is a montage of all of jesse's photos from the race. he is a stud.
bad ass adonis
cleft chin blowing in the wind
the finish is in sightdown the pipe. notice how he passed that twiggy chick
final push
i think he got rabies right before this

you'd foam at the mouth too if you were that awesome
realizing he hit his goal with 15 second to spare. what a monster!!!
my husband, hotter than elvis. i cant even imagine what the shoulders of that costume must have smelled like after everyone's photos
so i am all alone on the course, representing the dukes family.
it started to really hurt. not so much my joints, since i have the joints of a mountain ox, but just my upper leg skin. all of a sudden i realized it was my cellulite aching. that mess does not take kindly to extended jostling and it was crying out for relief. but since the only thing that makes it happy is a block of sharp cheddar and me on a couch, i couldnt placate it at that time.
i started settling for 4 minutes running/ 2 minutes walking. even that seemed like torture.
at mile 10 i realized we were passing the target house: a place that families can stay while their child is receiving treatment. i really thought that the most stark reminders of that sort of thing were behind me, but as we are passing this sprawling estate facility i hear a band playing and realize what this place is.
there werent a lot of people there, less than 10 total cheering us on. but the only ones i saw were a mom with a six or seven year old daughter sitting in her lap on the sidewalk against the main gate. they were quietly encouraging us and clapping us on. i looked at the little girl a little closer and saw that she had on a head scarf and a face mask to keep germs out.
she was a current patient.
this was too much. i had figured if any patients were going to be out at the race they would be at the st, jude campus, so this totally tackled me by surprise. i dont think i even completed my smile and wave to her before i had to look down at the ground to keep from falling apart.
i had been deep in my own hole of pain and fatigue and "this is oh-so-hard"-ing to myself and here was this little girl in the midst of fighting for her life, risking infection out in the world with her suppressed immune system cheering me on.
i started to think of how far i would be willing to run to take away my kids' pain. their diseases. their deaths. once again, my 13 mile road race shrank back down to its appropriate place in the world rankings of human suffering.
i made myself run from here. i was going so slow and grimacing like a freak the whole time. my hips actually started to hurt as i hit mile 11. we were now in new territory since an 11 mile run was the longest my training ever required.
at this point i saw my favorite sign of the day: "this is still a good idea." i laughed out loud quite a bit. it had read my mind.
you know you arent going to quit at this point, but it's just a matter of living through the really hard wanting-to-quit part where your body hurts so bad and you just want it to stop until you get to the other side where you can say, "that was a good idea," that is so daunting. just like childbirth.
i sent jesse a text from the glympse app of my phone so he could track my location to be sure to be there for my finish. i would prance joyfully into his arms and we would embrace and kiss and be awarded "race king and queen." note: this was clearly before i saw my star jump pictures and realized i have an overly optimistic imagination.
on mile 12 we made our final turn back towards the stadium and finish line. with just a mile to go, i knew i could gut it out and go faster. i kept hitting my powersongs to give me more health units. powersongs come across a little diluted after 12 miles.
at mile 12.1 my time according to nike+ was 2:42. i had 18 minutes to run one mile. i knew that i could and should totally be able to do that no problem, but my understanding of speed and time at that point were so out of whack that i wasnt sure and really started trying to move faster just to be sure.
i saw the sign up ahead directing marathoners one way and half marathoners the other way. it was like the fork in the road for heaven and hell. i looked at those poor souls who had 14 miles still to go and whispered, "youre all heroes!"
according to my tracking, i have less than a half mile to go, but i see no signs of the finish line. i knew we were finishing on the warning track of the minor league baseball stadium, and baseball stadiums tend to be pretty visible from far off, so this was unsettling.
i ran and ran and ran. someone decided that cooking fresh smelly pizza right along that street was a great idea and i wanted to hurl.
i just keep stumbling onward through the deserted street that looks nothing like a finish line.
and then like the wall of jericho before joshua, there rises up before me the stadium. i can make out the seats. all i have to do it run to there and it will all be over.
i started sprinting. i am passing dozens of people. i am flying. i am sort of looking like a punk who sandbagged the whole time just to turn on the afterburners at the end. but i am a sprinter, not a distance runner, and with the end in sight, my speed returned to me.
i fly past the 13 mile sign. just one tenth to go!
down the hill and over a sensor that would bring up our names in the stadium as we crossed. here come the barricades to keep spectators off the course.
down and around and into the stadium. i am churning up the dirt of the warning track, passing hoes like whoa. i am thinking to myself, "oh jesse is going to be so turned on to see me sprinting like mother flipping hussein bolt here at the end! i am a warrior princess made of fire and wind! a supermodel dolphin made of lightning! my strength and beauty at this triumph will launch a thousand ships!"
here is what that looked like:
thinking i might throw up but executing perfect form
thinking, "why the hell is someone who is done walking around smiling in her blanky, with her medal on the final 100 feet! i shouldnt have to waste my sweet dodge moves on someone who's already done!!!" my pony is sympathetically frenzied
thinking i can track down one more person before the finish. pony is in attack formation.
oh. my. gosh. was i going so fast that i gave myself loose armskin? or am i secretly that baggy. this is upsetting. really just so proud of this pic.
i wasnt going to look around for jesse, i was just going to let him appear before me, dazzled by my amazingness.
i crossed the finish line. ceasing to move forward was a strange sensation. i immediately needed to be horizontal. but, dammit, i had to keep walking, shunted along by the barricades away from the finish line, around the stadium to collect my insulated blanket (really, guys? it was 61 degrees out? i know cooling down to quick is dangerous, but come on!) and finishers medal.
i could do it. i just leaned up against the wall of the field. some officials came to make sure i was okay and not going into the light. i said, "oh no, i am totally fine," while my brain screamed, "LIAR LIAR LIAR!!!"
there was a gap in the fences and i busted onto the grass of the outfield before collecting water, though my medal was forced upon me (it weighed a good 50 lbs, i swear). there were other finished racers all out there in clumps. i collapsed in the grass.

i this point i am wondering where the heck jesse was for my big finish. what vantage point had he chosen to capture the most priceless pictures of me from?
i have been finished for a good ten minutes when i get this text from him: "go k8 go! you've got this!"
aaaaaand cue murderous rage. i didnt care that he had run the exact same race 55 minutes faster than me, i didnt care that it wasnt really about me, i was so PISSED that he didnt know i was finished and definitely didnt see me do it!
i threw my phone down and just kept laying there. the internet was not working since it was so overloaded by all the people on their phones so i couldnt even tweet about finishing. and when i finally tried to text jesse back, it wouldnt go through.
then i spot him. i am right behind third base and he is up in the stands waving in his big red elf shirt. like a true proverbs 31 wife, before thousands of onlookers i go ahead and flick him off.
not the most appropriate gesture for this moment.
i see him start working his way down the stairs and he is just so pitiful, limping and lurching that i have to laugh at myself for being so petulant and ridiculous (though i do shoot him a few more glares).
they had it set up so that you couldnt come back down once you had gone into the stands, and as a finisher, there wasnt really a good place to go watch others finish. and even if there was, his tracking of me wasnt working due to the overloaded cell service, so he wouldnt have known when to be there.
i finally got up to him (making people who have run 13 miles walk up stairs to get to their loved ones, checked baggage, and food, is unkind. just a thought) and fell on him. he was so wonderful and so sorry for having missed it. i said i was sorry for flicking him off and that it was 78% jokesy.
he tried to take me to the rest of the team, but i was in lone wolf mode and just wanted to be in pain and pretend to be special little hero who was the only one who had done something hard just in my head for a little while.
i kept waiting for the tears to come. that i had really done it. that i had run a half marathon after spending my entire life DETESTING running and choosing a life path that would avoid it at all costs. those tears never came. i had used up all the tears on bigger things earlier in my race.
all that came was mutterings of, "never, ever again."
i finished in 2:55:21. a hilariously slow time for anyone claiming to be an athlete, but there you go. there are different sorts of athletes, and the distance running type, i am not. i do wish there had been a volleyball digging obstacle at the very end, because i totally would have won that.
i got my free post-race food (soup, beer, donuts, awful pizza) and wandered back to our group. we had all done it.
i dont recall smiling for at least 48 hours afterwards.
and just like that, it was all over. we hobbled back to the car, our sweat dried to crystallized salt (this actually caused some eipc chafing for jesse), our legs humming with relief.
i drew the winning straw and got the first shower at the hotel. it was amazing. i had achieved new benchmarks for smelliest in the "keight" category.
a few hours later we were ravenous and looking to spend our calorie deficit. my heart was set on BBQ nachos, but when we got to the BBQ place, it was clear that they were traditionalists.
i was looking at the menu and jesse goes, "oh look, they do have nachos." i started out fake crying with happiness to be funny, but then it turned into real tears. real tears of happiness over cheese and sugar-sauce covered pig meat on top of fried flour triangles. i wanted to nachos something fierce. and i had my way with them.
saying goodbye to our teammates and new friends the next day was like leaving grownup camp. these are fun, awesome people.
i am so glad i accomplished a goal i never thought i would dare to even set for myself. the feeling of achievement is amazing. the endorphins of running are addictive. they all say after your first big race you catch "the bug," and before the pain even subsides, you are planning the next one.
i'm gonna be honest, i'm still living large on, "never, ever again."

19 comments:

  1. Beautiful post. I cried, a lot. Congrats to you, not just on finishing the race, but on the beautiful perspective you gained and your willingness to share it.

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  2. Great entry! I laughed; I cried; I held my sleeping baby's hand & touched his face thinking about all those children; I even entertained the thought of quitting nursing so I could go out and enjoy running again. I relate so much with the thoughts you shared about the experience~ loving & hating my handsome husband who was seemingly handcrafted by God to run long distances, feeling the shame & horror of being left in the dust by the elderly, marveling at the perfection of full-marathoners, and even the uncertainty of enjoying a restorative beverage while in motion. If only to record this blog entry, your half-marathon experience is "still a good idea". Well done Keight!

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  3. HUGE congratulations on making this happen for yourself! I know it could not have been easy all you have going on! You have inspired me to get started (just exercising - not 1/2 marathon training)...I have been trying to get the nerve to get moving again with the beast of a double jogging stroller. Loved hearing about the weekend!

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  4. you are amazing!! it is so awesome that you set this goal and did it. thanks for talking about it and giving me a glimpse into all of your raw emotions. i cried and laughed. i especially loved "what i actually gave was: drunken feudal serf/mime doing a star jump and deranged albino performing a breast self-exam and enjoying it a little too much." i laughed so hard that i woke up my daughter, and promptly went in and held her close and whispered a prayer of thanks that she is so healthy. congrats again!!!

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  5. Congratulations!

    And the "run to remember jake" signs; well he was the cutest little bald boy who didn't beat cancer but is still making a difference.

    Check out his aunts blog about the maration:

    www.mymojoy.com

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  6. Lady - you WILL do this again. I will be there. I think Paige wants to look at University of Georgia and I may be there in April. I think this means we know when our race will be.

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  7. Oh my goodness. I read some of this aloud to my husband. From laughter tears to heart ache tears back to laughter. You are just a bowl of goodness! I love reading your blog and seeing life through your eyes.

    By the way, hi! I'm Shannon :)

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  8. I can't imagine any other half marathon post being even HALF as entertaining as yours! I laughed til I cried. Remember me when you are making millions writing humorous books...SO proud of YOU, and so amazed that you and Jesse would even attempt to add something like this to your already overloaded schedules, not to mention the real blood, sweat and tears involved in it, but it makes my heart swell to know you two experienced some of the heart wrenching sadness that goes with childhood cancers...Jesse was too young to understand the magnitude of all we were going through, and you hadn't joined us yet, so there's something comforting about you two entering our pain by running this race. So glad you had the picture of the dancing kids...I'll bet it was like having Elena there with you! Love your reflections on what it must be like to be engaged in the horrific battle for your child's life...all your thoughts are as horrible as it really is. Thanks for sharing K8. I love you.

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  9. I needed this. To laugh and to cry a bit. Loved it.

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  10. We laughed SO hard! You're the funniest gal I know! The julia roberts/albino caption-best ever. So impressed with y'all! Much love!

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  11. My husband is concerned...I have sat here and laughed and then cried and then laughed and then cried! He actually asked if he should stay or leave! :) Thanks again for your honesty.

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  12. I can't even put into words how much I love this. Laughing, crying, reminiscing. Your attack pony is the best. So proud to have been able to experience the joy of racewalking with you! Glad you could bunny before we started. Forever a verb in my book! So grateful and privileged to call you a forever friend! MUAH!

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  13. So I held off commenting immediately after I read your recap because I wanted to compose my thoughts on how awesome this post was as wonderfully as you were able to convey yours to us when you wrote this. But I don't think that's possible, so I'm giving up and dropping in to say how much I loved reading this! I loved reliving our monumental day through your perspective and was totally okay with being that girl at work laughing aloud in her cubicle. So glad to be IRL friends and can't wait to do it all over again in April. Right?! You know you can't let Jesse take on the full all by himself can you? At least run half of it with him! :)

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  14. I'm so, so proud of you!!! What an emotional, amazing and hysterical journey.

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  15. I don't know how I missed this in my reader, but I'm so, so glad I found it! What a fantastic story. I cried. I also laugh-shouted at the images of you at the finish line. I have so totally had epic thoughts of looking like some sort of Greek running goddess (Athena, maybe?) at the end of a race, and I'm always incredibly disappointed. Thank you for making me not feel alone. And also, congratulations on your finish!

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  16. I don't know you but I love you!! This is the coolest running story I have ever read - inspirational!! My running partner and I are beginning our training for a half coming up in April and reading this has given me the extra boost I needed - thank you so much, and a huuuuge CONGRATULATIONS!!

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  17. I would describe myself as a bit of a gomer runner, figuring things out as I go and having many excuses to laugh at myself (and others) as I run. While I run I often have thoughts like yours going through my head. I think how funny I must be, and then I try to write down these great thoughts when I get back to my computer. I always flop. It was awesome to read your account and relive some of my racing experiences. Somehow you are able to express so much of the love and hate of running and racing that I have, so many of the funny things that happen and are still funny when you write them down (unlike when I try)! Congratulations on your race and your account of it!

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  18. Definitely the best race recap I have ever read. So so funny and moving! I'm in 5k training now but hopefully going into half marathon training next.

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