April 30, 2012 § 1 Comment
This is the last day of my early thirties. I don’t know if it’s because I go to community college, or because of my chubby cheeks but I do not feel like I am about to embark upon my mid-thirties. I don’t really have an issue with age. I mean clearly – AM doesn’t look her age: She just looks young.
I am in shape. I am mentally active. I am about to embark upon a new health adventure. I just finished the Boston Marathon. I mean, essentially, I have the world by the tail – so there’s nothing to not love about my age. I am not sure what 35 is supposed to feel like, but if this is it, it feels great. This is the only thing. I can remember when my mom turned 35. As a kid I thought 35 was REALLY old. I’d like to slap that kid. (Just kidding KT, I don’t slap kids, I promise.) I’d also like to slap the kids in my class that look like they are going to faint when I tell them I’m 35 and they say, “No way, you look wicked young for 34.” Or there was the one that said, “Oh, my mom’s 34!” Now hear me, I understand she wasn’t wanting to have babies when she did, but the fact that it is HUMANELY possible for me to have a child that could be my academic peer makes me want to run to the bathroom and vomit.
All that to say. I am waving warmly goodbye to 34 and embracing my official mid-thirties. They are coming whether I want them to or not. Also. I am just so incredibly happy. What’s to resent. Incredible husband, getting an invaluable education (well – there is some way to value it – but I think it’s worth more!), we have great friends, an incredible family, and have so much to be grateful for. So this year intentional gladness, happiness, thankfulness, celebration, joyfulness, and compassion. It’s going to be great.
April 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
Thanks for all the marathon post love. You guys are out of this world.
Today Justin and I helped my running club man the 2 mile water stop at a 10k in the neighborhood. We had the opportunity to direct runners with a new friend who was fired horrifically right before being given tenure at a very well known university in the area. While we cheered on one thousand ramblers we were able to cheer on this person who has been out of work for a year, jerked around in a few situations, and ended up boarding as a grown man with a young couple in Cambridge because his job situation was so ridiculous.
It was so fantastic to get to CHEER for him, at mile 23, hot tired, and ready to give up… We asked a million questions, we talked to him about running in the water, and then running on the ground… To build his strength. We talked to him about places and people we knew that might be connections. I am going to try to connect him with one of my professors at BHCC.
Tonight he send me an email that he was so inspired by the day today that he went home, listened to big band, and danced for a while before he went running – slow and easy – for half an hour.
J-A-S, Justin and I are holding up your invisible, “You’re the SH*T” signs. You deserve it, and just around the bend, an easier mile is ahead!
April 26, 2012 § 11 Comments
It’s a week and a half later and I am still only considering running.
My cousin Stace says that I look like a hungry t-rex in this picture – I can only tell you that this is somewhere in the range of the 20 miles… as in in the miles containing the Newton Hills, and that I wanted to die… Not like that happy lady in front of me. That’s my running buddy Karen in purple next to me; whom I would not have finished that marathon without.
For a week the feeling of the warm sun on my back was enough to bring about waves of nausea.
To say it was the most difficult race I have ever run would be the most gross under-exaggeration of my life… ” ‘Twas a rough night.”
There is still a man in the hospital trying to recover from a heat stroke – hundreds of people were taken by ambulance, thousands went voluntarily – I feel VERY, VERY, VERY fortunate to have finished in the condition that I did.
OK, I think that paints a picture for you.
No? We were literally already at an elevated heat WALKING to the start line.
By .25 miles in I knew it was going to be bad, we had slowed our minute mile down by 1 minute 30 seconds, we slowed it down another 30 seconds and committed to walk EVERY water stop, NO MATTER WHAT WE FELT LIKE.
Blah blah blah blah blah – we finished, it was terrible, hard, difficult, etc.
This is what I want to say.
From before we started running to yesterday at lunch people have not stopped cheering. (Explanation of this sign)
As I ran into every little village I would yell, “It’s good to be in ________”
In Ashland there was a rowdy biker bar, they – by far – gave the best rowdy yell.
Wellesley gave an expectedly polite, but enthusiastic golf clap. You get my drift.
Here’s the thing. It was REALLY HOT. Not just for us, we EXPECTED to be hot. People cheering were there by choice. They didn’t have to stand there. They didn’t have to clap. They didn’t have to hose us down.
They didn’t have to hand us oranges. They didn’t have to buy ice bag, after ice bag, after ice bag… There were people that would run with us to make sure that we got ice. When we were still running. FIVE HOURS IN, on Beacon Street people were standing IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET with ice, water, gatorade THAT WAS COLD (the water stations had luke warm stuff that was starting to make me gag – NOT THEIR FAULT, but REALLY hard to drink…)
I am crying typing this. When we got to the Fenway we were in the blistering sun, we were in so much pain, we were so hot… Strangers were yelling their hearts out, “We know it’s hard! Just a little farther! Hang in there! YOU CAN DO THIS!”, when we looked like we were going to fall over from heart sickness, “DON’T GIVE UP! YOU’RE ALMOST THERE NOW! REALLY!!!” When we turned onto Boylston for the last half-mile it sounded like the Superbowl, so many people yelling, it felt like the WHOLE WORLD WAS THERE. Six hours after the marathon started, NO ONE HAD GONE HOME. They followed the instructions on the signs also:
We SO needed them, and they just YELLED!
You guys, this marathon was awful, this is not the hardest course I have ever run, but it is ARRANGED in the most difficult manner I have ever encountered. MANY professional runners don’t finish.
It was so hot. It was so so so hot. It felt like we were cooking.
It’s mentally debilitating to watch busses of runners who have quit carted past you as you run, people hauled off on stretchers, and the constant sound of ambulance sirens. To turn onto Boylston just hoping that my little cheering team would still be there and instead I felt like I had just won the gold medal at the olympics – it was unreal.
I crumbled. I was so deeply thankful.
Those people just had no idea.
The people back in Hopkinton. The people on Hereford.
They had no idea.
And then we were done. And it has not stopped. When people find out I finished they just keep saying, “It was so hot! That’s incredible! You must be so proud!” and my immediate answer is, “I am, and I am so proud of Boston.” And I mean it.
I do not love this city almost 99.9% of the time, but April 16, 2012 has endeared me to this city forever.
(these are cheerers taking a break so that they can keep cheering – that’s how hot it was – and how incredible they were.)
This is actually not about the marathon though – WHAT? I know. Trickery.
This is about life.
I finished the marathon for a myriad of reasons. I had great coaches, a great Jillian, an incredibly supportive husband, AM/UK, and TEAM. I had friends who offered endless support, family who cared, and friends like Scott and John whose parents became sick along the way that reminded me why I was running.
I literally thought of Scott’s dad at least once a mile, and when I saw the Citgo sign at Fenway I vowed that he would go to games with his grandson at that ballpark on the tail of the research that this money raised would fund. What if Scott hadn’t shared his story?
What if that man and his wife hadn’t had that blue cooler on Beacon – and handed us cups – and told us to hold them in our hands to cool our core temperature.
What if Kendra and Tara hadn’t cheered for me RIGHT WHEN I THOUGHT MY ACHILLES was snapping?
What if the strangers hadn’t come out and stayed out?
We wouldn’t have finished. Literally. We needed every one of those water hoses. We needed every cheer. Every high five from tiny people.
And then this is what happened.
You take the medal off.
It’s too hot to wear your finishers jacket.
You don’t have the tell-tale post-marathon stiffness (I still kind of do in my achilles.)
Hello cruel world.
I’ve been doing the Blissology yoga videos for recovery (this is because trying to get in the class at the West Roxbury Y is like trying to get a ticket to Prada’s show at Paris Fashion Week.) Eoin Finn is a surfer gone yogi – definitely an acquired feel. As in, I don’t think Justin’s going to be able to deal with him. However, he talks a lot about our attitude toward the world around us and the impact it has on our happiness.
Also, I was driving recently, and instead of cheering for me, people were cutting me off and screaming at me for not letting them turn right from the middle lane (I am a jerk, I know.) And I had an epiphany.
How much easier would life be if we treated life like a marathon? If we recognized the truth, everybody is running a VERY long race.
Some moments are ebullient, and some are heartbreak – but what would happen if we treated everyone like they were running a marathon and cheered like this
In marathons people aren’t thinking about themselves, they are thinking about the end goal – EVERYONE FINISHING.
EVERYONE IS THINKING ABOUT THAT.
There is a cacophony of thank you, there is good will by all, there is kindness, deference, preference, and generosity.
Everyone is for everyone.
It comes effortlessly.
It’s a big party, people love it, entire cities are in a good mood, they are inspired, sacrificial, and united.
I believe it’s worth thinking about. Holding up our invisible signs for our fellow man, our fellow marathoners in life, handing out water when we can, cheering when possible!
And remember to keep our invisible, “You’re the SH*T” signs in front of us at all times – because hey – life’s not easy – and we can all attest to that. Way to go to anyone who’s making it on this journey! Have an orange slice, and keep your eye out for the Citgo sign – when you get there just two miles to go.
(Most photos borrowed from this incredible post on the Lulu blog)
I think this is especially important in our most important relationships. Karen and I had plenty of horrible moments in our 26.2 (actually my Garmin read 28.1 at the finish line) mile journey. We committed at the beginning of the race to each other. We just did. Leaving each other was not an option. There were points when it might have been easier for one of us to run, or one of us to walk, but in the end if we had we BOTH would not have finished. It spoke so deeply to me about my marriage and my dearest relationships. Sometimes it’s sweaty and miserable and sh*t, but you knew that was going to be the case when you started, stick with it. I promise you, at mile 15-25 I wasn’t easily convinced that mile 25.5-26.2 would make the previous hell worth it, but I am so incredibly glad that I didn’t give in. And I am so incredibly glad that Karen didn’t give up on me.
April 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
I first heard Brianna’s story on Colette Paperie’s Blog. Keli is the creator of some of my favorite cards, like this one that I gave Justin for Valentine’s Day, or this one that I love to send to the tinies in my life, and this one that I feel like I am sending every other day of my life (and that I mean sincerely.)
So I emailed Brianna, and told her what I was doing and asked if I could add her Dad as an honoree. Not just because he is fighting for his life, and because their story so clearly shows how deeply impacted the lives around the person diagnosed are… But because in the time that I have been training for this marathon, the Dempsey’s lives have been turned upside down. And that’s the reality of cancer. Here’s the email that Brianna sent me with their story -
Here is a quick recap of his story:
It all started with a broken rib around Thanksgiving, which they thought was caused by sneezing too hard! This was the first symptom, but we wouldn’t know it was cancer until over a month later. In early January, dad was becoming forgetful and passive, and then one day he lost movement in half his face. So thinking it was a stroke, my mom took him to the hospital where they found bleeding in the brain, and they rushed him to a hospital 1.5 hrs away to be treated. He then went in for brain surgery, where they removed a brain tumor. After days in the hospital and more tests, they found out that he had stage 4 kidney cancer, which had spread from the kidney to the lungs, bones, and brain.
Every appt we have been to they have found more cancer, and it is now in his lymphnodes and spine too. So it is spreading very quickly, and he had another surgery last week to put a rod in his leg, as the cancer is starting to break his bone. He just started a chemo pill last week, which will hopefully stop the growth of the cancer. It will not cure him, but just stop or slow down the growth. If he doesn’t respond to the chemo pill, it is a matter of managing his pain and keeping him comfortable.
So it has been a roller coaster the past couple months! How quickly life can change! He was at work the day before they found the brain tumor, and now he has lost 30 lbs and has to walk with a cane! It is so sad, but it definitely helps to know there are such great people out there like you who do such nice things for families when they need it the most! Having people like you gives our family support when we have a hard time facing the challenges of each day. THANK YOU so much for all you and your organization does! I cannot describe what it means to us.
I include the last part of Brianna’s email, not to give myself any applause, but because I want to make sure that we all recognize what this means to the families that are being ravaged by this disease.
Please consider giving. To the Dempsey’s, and then to LLS – click here to donate to my page $3600 to go to $10,000.
Thank you again for your support. Ten days. It’s really unbelievable.