Paul’s first half marathon

This past weekend, my husband Paul did his first half marathon.

The event was held on the coldest day so far this season. When we left that morning, I had to scrape the frost off my windshield. The high temperature was in the low 40’s. When the race started, I could see my breath. It is challenging to know what to wear in that situation.

I wore a sweater over my running clothes. My ears were freezing so I tied the hood on my head. It was the kind of weather that I would do my running in the gym for. At least it didn’t rain, or snow. But it was a dreary day.

I dropped off my sweater with a friend half way through the race. I was still cold at some points, but it was manageable. My body cramped up and it hurt my lungs with every breath. All day I coughed wheezily.

I crossed the finish line before Paul. My body shook with chills from the cold sweat after the exertion from the race. I didn’t get my sweater back until later. I cheered him on as he crossed the finish line. We waited around for the results from the small town race. He placed, but I didn’t. I felt bad about it. If only I was a year older, I would’ve took 2nd. I beat myself up because I finished my half ten minutes later than the last time I ran a half several years back.

Paul said that I was his inspiration to run the half and that I also inspire other people to run. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. After the race, we huddled around a fire and under warmers with friends. I couldn’t warm up. It was rather miserable and my chest hurt. Our other friends ran the 5k. Everyone that I knew placed in their age group, except me.

Oh well! I am over it already. We laughed a little over how competitive I am.

I am so happy that Paul decided to run his first half marathon. I wonder how hard it would be to convince him that a full marathon is a lot of fun??

Fortune cookie wisdom #17

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Let’s talk about wheels a bit today…shall we?

You may remember a couple of months back when I told the story of my son’s new set of wheels…The very night, less than several hours after we got him the car, some small town criminals decided to chase him down because he was squealing his tires. They smashed the front end of his car and took a tire iron to the back of it.

Shortly thereafter, he hit a deer which smashed his headlight. The car was also leaking oil everywhere in big pools. We decided to make an appointment with someone that would fix foreign cars. It took a couple of weeks to get in.

Once the mechanic opened the hood, he took one look and said he wouldn’t work on it. He said that someone spent a whole lot of money to make the car completely worthless. In essence, we bought a lemon. It was their policy that they do not work on modified cars. So here we were stuck with a 17 year old foreign modified car that no one would fix. He did say that it would probably cost thousands to fix the oil leak.

Then we got the estimate for the damages incurred. The damage from the deer cost $2500 and the damage from the hoodlums was $3500. So, technically, the first few hours after my son got the car it was already totaled.

The two offenders are middle aged men. One man was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property. The other was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespass to property when he chased my son and his friend into the friend’s house threatening to kill them. We are hoping to get restitution for the damage to the car.

Now apparently the nephew of one of those hoodlums goes to school with my son Alex. We have had problems with this kid before. In middle school, Alex and this kid wrestled in the same weight class. He was first, Alex was second. One year Alex decided he wanted to try harder. He went to summer wrestling camps and signed up for preseason lessons. He got to be really good at wrestling. He was so good at wrestling that he challenged this kid who was first and beat him several times.

This did not bode well with the other kid who was the son of a son of a son of a wrestler whose ancestors have been going to the school probably since the school first opened its doors. This kid got a group of other wrestlers together and started bullying Alex because he threatened his position. The coach did nothing and finally my husband took the situation into his own hands and contacted the parents directly. That was the year my son quit wrestling after doing it for 8 years, the year he wrestled his best.

Now this kid is talking bad about my son to my son’s girlfriend over what happened with the car. My son said that if this kid disrespects him to his face then he will fight him. He said that if he does that, he would probably get kicked out of school. Yeah, that will show them all! Fighting will surely fix the car and all of the other problems. NOT!

The strange thing is that I understand. When I heard about the hoodlums that damaged his car, I was so angry that I wanted to go over there and kick the crap out of those guys myself. I think I have so much pent up anger and rage that I have one good fight in me. Is that bad?? I would never act on it, but that is how I felt.

So, yeah, the squeaky wheel gets the oil.. I talk about my son a lot on this blog. I probably talk about him a lot more than my honor student daughters.

Fortune cookie wisdom #10

Be prepared for a sudden, needed, and happy change in plans.

Wow, this one is nice!

I’m not sure when I received this fortune cookie, but I can tell you that this year has definitely been a year full of surprises and change…

In January, we sold our business but stayed on as employees. In February, we checked our first continent (outside of our own) off the bucket list. In two weeks, we will be moving into a new house.

A year ago today I would’ve never guessed that any of these things would be happening.

Last night I booked a trip to Las Vegas. This was unexpected a week ago. I’m very excited because I’ve never been to Nevada before. Plus my daughter Angel was selected as one of the best college singers in the US to compete there on a national level. This is a very big step forward in her future music career. We will have the opportunity to listen to the best singers in the United States compete and famous singers perform.

Pity the poor middle school choir students that I hear perform for solo and ensemble. I will never be the same.

Hopefully we will have time to check out some shows and spend some time poolside. I really don’t care about going to the casinos. I doubt my daughter could get in anyway. She is still a teenager.

I’ll be sure to share my best pictures and adventures in Sin City. But don’t expect it to be like The Hangover.

Fortune cookie wisdom #8

Begin…the rest is easy.

I find this fortune cookie to be very inspiring.

Beginning is the hardest part, right?

Remember starting a blog? How terrifying was that??

Now it seems so natural, so easy, so ingrained…like I’ve been doing this forever.

Every decision to begin something new is fraught with worry. Or at least it is that way for me. Getting married, starting a family, starting a blog, running a marathon, getting on the stage of a community theater, sailing, going to college, moving to a new community, doing a Half Ironman, traveling, etc…insert dream here..

Beginning a new adventure can be terrifying. Fear can prevent someone with great potential from even starting.

I remember my first 10k. I was horrified. I was so afraid I wanted to run in the opposite direction. This summer, I’m going to run my 4th marathon. A lot of people find that inspiring, motivating, or downright crazy. It is all of those things. If I can do it, anybody can. It started with taking the first step. I started running about 5 years before I ever signed up for my first race. People don’t see everything I do when they hear about everything I’ve done.

Running can be very intimidating if you haven’t yet learned to crawl.

I am very motivated to achieve. I can’t sit still. My brain never quiets.

I am also a very competitive person. This has been harder to overcome. I want to be the best runner. I want to be the best blogger. I am secretly (well, not anymore) jealous of people who have thousands of followers after a few months of blogging. I am jealous of people great enough to qualify for the Boston marathon.

I have to get over comparing myself to others and learn to enjoy my own journey…

Sometimes people ask…How can you be a marathon runner? How do you run a successful business working with your husband? How can you blog regularly year after year?

I’ll tell you how I do it. Begin…that is the first step. Keep going. Keep doing your best even if you aren’t the best. Seek the advice of others who are successful. Maybe I’m not as good of a runner as ______ or as good of a blogger as ________. Who cares? I really love it and that is what matters.

Out performing

Last week my daughter Angel was home from college for spring break. We watched a couple of rockumentaries. We watched the Kurt Cobain documentary “Montage of Heck’. I found the documentary to be rather disturbing. It showed raw footage of his drug addiction. What a tragic story of a brilliantly troubled mind. He was so talented, yet died so tragically young. Sadly, it really isn’t unusual anymore to hear of talented performers dying from suicide or drug overdoses. I wouldn’t wish the life of a performer on my worst enemy.

Then it occurred to me that this is the kind of life two out of three of my children want to have. They want to be performers.

My firstborn, Angel, is in her second year of college for vocal performance. Recently she competed in a very elite competition and was one of the very few students from her college that was chosen to sing in front of an opera star. She never had singing lessons before college. It might even sound stupid, but maybe I never fully realized her talent. She was the only one ever in the history of her high school to get as many perfect scores at state for her vocal performances. Now she is in college competing with students that have had singing lessons for their whole entire lives.

But don’t all parents think that their children are the brightest, most talented, most intelligent children even if they are not? I also had the opportunity to listen to performances of strangers for solo and ensemble. I sat through one of the worst vocal duets I ever heard to look around to see parents recording the blessedly miserable event on their phone beaming with pride.

Parents often wear blinders. Why would I be any different?

My son is going to state for a piece that his piano teacher couldn’t even play the accompaniment for. It has a difficulty rating of 9. She said that it was a PhD piece. The ‘second chair’, who is a senior, played his level 4 difficulty solo from last year and bombed it. It was the song that my son got a perfect score on at state as a sophomore. After my son played his solo this year, the girl’s mother introduced herself to me. She told me that my son is a genius, a savant at music. She went on and on to the point that I almost was embarrassed. What could I say back to her? Her daughter as a talented senior bombed the solo my son aced at state last year as a sophomore. It was awkward.

I have two children that are the top performing musicians from their small town school. They are joining the hordes of a million other talented young wannabe famous musicians who are just as good if not better than they are.

In all honesty, who doesn’t want to be a star?? I sure would love to have 20,000 followers on WP. How about you?? If you have that many followers, how worried are you about continuing to write brilliant posts? Point made.

But do I want the life of a performer for my children?? I am not so sure anymore.

I picture them searching from city to city for a mirage they can’t seem to grasp onto. They will deal with the fear of failure. But guess what? The fear of success is just as terrifying. Rejection. Not having a stable lifestyle. Not having a steady income. The possibility of finding permanent residence in my basement. Not being able to pay off college debt. Maybe being famous? Having to keep performing at a stellar level to keep their fame. The possibility of drug addiction. Fans worshiping them but not knowing who they really are. Haters. Critics. What do you think a beautiful girl might have to do to make it to the top? A life on the road. What about a family? Broken relationships. Constant pressure. The isolation from a lack of anonymity. Broken dreams from not succeeding. Not being able to handle fame.

Why do I worry that it might not go well for them either way?? Didn’t we teach our kids to follow their dreams when we followed ours? Performing is one of the most exciting career journeys that anyone can follow.

Who knows? Maybe it will end well. As I overthink about it, maybe I am just worried because that is what I do as a parent. Worry. Sure, my kids are talented. But are they talented enough??

Maybe not pursuing a dream gives a life of more regrets.

And maybe I shouldn’t have watched that documentary.

My first Half Ironman

swimming

I finished my first Half Ironman and ordered my 70.3 bumper sticker..I really wasn’t sure I would make it.

When I woke up the morning of the race, the water looked a little like this:

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Well, not exactly…the race was held at this park, however I took this picture in November. In this picture, there was a strong west wind. During the race, there was a strong north wind which meant that the waves would start pounding us at the end of the pier. Then if we could make it past the pier, we had to swim against the waves to the first buoy. If we could make it to the first buoy, we could let the waves rock us back to shore.

Due to a small craft warning, upon arrival I received the news that the swim would be shortened due to treacherous conditions. The swim went from 1.2 miles to 0.25 miles. I cried tears of joy and cancelled the mental list of loved ones whom I would give all of my running medals my prized earthly possessions to. Nevertheless, even with the shortened swim, about 5% of competitors got pulled.

race 4

Here is my wave waiting in the calmer waters on the left of the pier. I tried not to watch the waves before us getting hit by huge wave surges after the pier. Lifeguards on jet skis were pulling people out of the water. I think the lady next to me was about ready to have a panic attack. She was muttering anxiously to herself. I felt like we were cattle waiting for the slaughter house truck.

The horn sounded. We swam together in a clump towards the end of the pier. People kicked and clawed their way through only to be hit by a huge wave surge at the end of the pier. There was a collective roller coaster ride scream as we were hit by a giant wave. I gulped down several mouthfuls of water and choked.

My husband’s words right before the race became my mantra…water is my friend…I love water..

I reached out to the lifeguard in the water that had a flotation device. She said calming words. I stayed until I stopped choking. The lady next to me had a full blown panic attack and had to be pulled out of the water.

I felt like I was in a wave pool except I couldn’t quite see where I was and I couldn’t touch the ground.

Thankfully I made it past the first race buoy and let the 4 foot waves push me back to shore. It was rather nauseating being raised to great heights then dropped.

SWIM!

I was so happy to make it through the swim alive.

I was still shaking as I was riding my bike 15 miles later. I could’ve drowned kept splashing through my mind. I was finally able to calm down a little but still felt shaken. I decided to make one stop halfway through the bike route to hydrate. I didn’t feel like I could keep my balance if I grabbed water while biking.

The bike route was very scenic and pleasant despite the rolling hills at the end. We went through small towns along the bay of Lake Michigan. I saw deer in fields and sailboats in marinas.

It wasn’t until the last 10 miles that things got to be grueling. The end of the route was uphill against the strong north winds. I tried to say comforting words as I saw a My Team Triumph team struggle up a big hill. I felt like quitting then.

Plus I never biked over 45 miles before. There’s that.

I passed the last water stop, regretfully not stopping. With a few miles left, I got a bad side cramp and my knee started to hurt. I felt a little lightheaded, but kept going.

How was I going to run 13.1 miles? Maybe I should stop, but I pressed on.

Near the end, I prematurely unclipped my bike shoes. I was told to keep going until I was ready to pass the race mat. I accidentally clipped my shoe back in when I was supposed to dismount and almost fell.

Thankfully, somehow, I managed to avoid drowning and a bike crash all in one day.

The first few miles of the run I focused on hydrating myself. Thankfully the cramps were gone, but I started feeling a little sick… I found myself having to run several times to the bathroom. That really motivated me to get running! I didn’t take any Gu because I felt like I was going to throw up. I spent the rest of the run doing a walk/run combo.

There was an area of the race where there were runners on both sides of the road running in opposite directions. The road wasn’t closed to traffic, so it was very busy. Most of the motorists honked, waved, or cheered out the windows to racers.

Every single volunteer was eager to please with a smile on their face. No one looked bored or like they were waiting for it to be over so they could go home. They asked if I was okay and if I needed something every single time. Did they recruit Walmart greeters??

This was the best run race I have ever been in.

As I was reaching the end, my friend Cori was waiting for me. She hugged and kissed me through her falling tears. Then she told me how proud of me she was and how much she loved me.

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I didn’t know how emotional this race could be. I found my friends, my husband, and myself in tears unexpectedly. People who rarely cried were struck with emotion. I felt like it was one of the biggest accomplishments in my life. I overcame my obstacles. I struggled and prevailed.

finish

I crossed the finish line!

Race-A-Peril

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After we got back from the triathlon, we were planning on sailing a full moon race. I was rather excited to check two races in one day off of my bucket list.

But the strong winds from the morning of the triathlon increased throughout the day making sailing conditions very treacherous. We thought the race would be cancelled but never found out for sure since we spent the evening in the ER instead.

But that will be a story for another day..

I typically compete in triathlons or running. My husband races our sailboat. Sometimes our race paths intersect and I can be found on the water and he on land.

Last night I was part of my husband’s sail race crew along with our friend Jerry. It was a lot cooler and windier than we thought it would be. We were sailing in rough conditions with 3 to 4 foot waves.

For a time, we were slightly ahead of a boat that always wins. They were alongside of us and fell back after we turned.

We were headed on a straight course to the first buoy in the race when disaster struck.

I knew something was wrong when, just like that, we were hurled off course.

A pin snapped. The rudder broke. We spun in violent circles while being struck by waves that rocked our boat and crashed upon the bow. The boom swung and the wind whipped our sails. A line from the main sail broke free and was swirling around overhead like a lasso.

Paul started the outboard motor. The rudder smacked back and forth into the motor’s propeller. Jerry and I worked on getting the jib sheet in as we spun in circles. Then Paul struggled to get the boat in irons to take down the main sail. Then the guys lifted the heavy rudder out of water while trying to maneuver the boat.

After taking the main sail down, the situation became less perilous. But we weren’t out of the woods(?) yet. Paul had to steer the boat back in to the harbor without a rudder. He had to rely on the small outboard motor. His arm was sore from the waves and strong winds that he had to arm wrestle his motor against.

To get back we had to go against the flow. The boats that were racing behind us were coming towards us to get to the racing buoy.

Finally we were able to limp back to shore. Paul had to steer the boat into our slip and it wasn’t going to be easy. There were rugged rocks and a cement wall to navigate around in the strong wind. He hollered to shore for help…but he was able to get us into our slip like a pro.

There were other boats with problems last night.

Another boat had issues and started to come into the slip sideways almost colliding with nearby boats.

The wind ripped another sailboat’s spinnaker in half.

It was the most exciting race ever!

I was happy that the rudder didn’t give out when we were alongside the other boat…we might’ve crashed. Also, the ER visit prevented us from racing this last weekend if the strong winds wouldn’t have. If the rudder broke at dusk 5 miles from shore in strong winds and waves who knows what could’ve happened!

I had a great time. There was no lasting damage. The problem is relatively inexpensive to fix. No one panicked, got hurt, or died last night.

After it was all over, we had a drink and reminisced about our previous perilous sail when we were beginner sailors…the accidental overnight sail…(maybe I will share the story with you all again). Jerry said it was one of the top ten memorable stories of his life. It was one of mine too.

I will not forget last night either.

I love adventure, but I am not a big risk taker.

I have to say that there is something totally exhilarating about challenges that push my mind, body, and stamina to its limits to get through…A sense of danger…Flirtation with failure.

Racing…competing…how I love the thrill of it!

I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.

No race is ever the same…even if it is the same race.

We didn’t finish the race, but we survived the night.

I will count that as a win.

 

Trying the Olympic tri

This weekend I will be competing in my first Olympic tri. Strangely enough, I feel confident. Confidence is a scary feeling. Will I be prepared??

So far the weather for the race looks challenging. It is supposed to be very windy with highs in the upper 80’s…a possible heat advisory…the warmest day so far this year. But I feel ready.

I spent the last 2 weekends swimming across the lake up north. The total distance each time equaling approximately 1 mile.

Seriously, I am not going to bore you with the details. I’ll tell you if something exciting happens…like the time I almost hit a skunk on my bike..

I was feeling a little afraid of swimming long distance in open water but got used to the feeling. Anxiety and fear is not exactly a new feeling for me. Maybe it is better to face these obstacles in real life because I know how to handle feeling this way in a race.

Tomorrow I will pack my bags and head out of town. I hope I don’t forget anything!

I love trying new races.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like some tried and true races close to home. There is an advantage knowing the route. Plus every race is different, even the same race. The weather is different…I meet different people…sometimes I feel nervous, sick, hurt, or unhealthy…and sometimes I feel strong and confident like I do now.

I’m ready to do this…even in a heat advisory.

Bring it on!

 

My 3rd marathon

I was really anxious the day before the race. I couldn’t describe it as a positive or negative feeling. I was restless, but needed to stay still. Mainly, I felt a nervous excitement. It felt like it was the first time. 

I was hoping that having my cousin come from out of town would keep me distracted from what was before me. But he was injured and cancelled the 10 hour drive to get here. 

I decided to run with Lisa, she is a crazy good runner. She is not quite as disciplined as me but apparently she doesn’t need it. This was her 2nd marathon. She was afraid she was going to be slow because she got a little carried away at a party a few nights before. She hopped on a kid’s bike and crashed it banging up her leg. 

It was raining like crazy the day before the marathon. The original forecast said it would be dry for the marathon, but they were wrong. It rained the first hour and a half of the marathon. I grabbed a couple of garbage bags from home to cover Lisa and I. 

There was a traffic jam near the parking area and it took longer than we thought to get to the event. We even left early. We had to run to the bathroom. We stopped first by some Portapots that were fenced in with a large security guard in front. Apparently they were for the elite and not us. By the time we got out of the bathroom the anthem was playing. There were long lines and I think some people would rather stay in the stinky bathrooms than get soaking wet.

Lisa stayed with me for the first 2 miles. I couldn’t keep up and stayed with the 4:20 pacer group the first half of the race. It was cold (50F), windy, and rainy. My shoes were soaked before the race began. Any loose areas on my wet clothes caused some pretty nasty chafing. But I didn’t feel excessively cold. 

After the halfway point, I had to wait in line for the bathroom. I passed several full ones with lines before I was forced to stop. When I got out, I lost sight of my pacer group. Then I meandered on my own for the next 7 miles without stopping. Then right around the 20 mile mark I lost steam. I did a walking slow jog thing. 

My son texted me that he needed gas in the car. 

Hello, I’m running a marathon here! 

Then my phone died. 

But I couldn’t muster up enough anger to light a fire under my butt.

A man passed me and asked if I was okay. 

I was feeling angry that I didn’t have a big support group. My son was more concerned about the car.  

My husband was there for me every step of he way though. He tried to get me moving. I knew no other spectators. 

I remembered my goal to do a full Ironman. I started to see it slip through my fingers again. 

My arms and legs felt numb. I tried to tell my legs to move faster but they weren’t responding to prompts from my brain. 

My mind felt muddled and I was confused. I kept asking those around me what mile we were on. I felt this strong desire to wander off and lie down in a random person’s yard. 

I smelled bacon frying from an open window of a nearby house. Jerk! I longed for the leftover macaroni and cheese leftover from the night before. I thought bad thoughts towards those who might eat it before I got back. 

I wanted to give up. 

Then I met Hank from Detroit. He seemed kind of mafia to me. We spent the last four miles limping, walking, and running together. 

I finished the marathon beating the times of my first two marathons by over a half an hour. Victory! But still not enough to beat my goal of under 5 hours. I just have to work harder. Lisa finished in a little over 4 hours. 

I had mixed feelings. I majorly beat my old times but I still wanted better.

I went home exhausted. But I had a party to go to. Cindy’s son was getting confirmed. Plus I was flying out in less than 24 hours and didn’t even start to pack. 

After I got home later that evening, I laid in bed feeling feverish. I didn’t want to talk to anyone but didn’t want to be alone. For a few hours, I felt totally relaxed almost delirious. All worried faded from my mind completely. 

I outran my demons that day. 

The third time’s the charm? Right??

The terror is starting to set in. This weekend I will be running my third marathon. Seriously, at this point, I want to run away. I feel discouraged. I’m having some doubt.

There will be no excuses this time. I am healthy. The weather conditions look absolutely ideal for running. It should be cloudy, dry, and cool.

Last month was the first race of the season. I did an 18 mile trail run with my cousin out of state. I was satisfied with how it went. My cousin was going to join me for this marathon, but due to injury he had to cancel out. I feel disappointment. I had a lot of fun things planned for the weekend besides the marathon.

Now I will be running with Lisa. This is her second marathon. She finished her first in just over 4 hours along with our other friend Cori. I had the expectation on myself that I would complete my first marathon with a similar time. I finished my first half in a little over 2 hours. A marathon should just be double the time, right?? Nope, not for me.

I was injured on my first marathon. I rolled my ankle a couple weeks before the event and still had a little pain. After 26.2 miles of pounding, I was in rough shape and ended in 6 hours. My 2nd marathon, I was afraid. Afraid of getting hurt, afraid of pushing it. It was hot that day, very hot. I ended in 6 hours.

This time the weather conditions are ideal, I am injury free, and there are no excuses.

But I am afraid, very afraid. I am afraid that I am going to fail.

You might be asking yourself…how can any marathon runner be a failure?

I want more for myself…I have goals..I want to compete in a full Ironman by the time I am 45. If I don’t do well this time, there is no way that I will be able to make the time limit for the Ironman. This race is going to make it or break it for me. It will be the deciding factor for future races.

I won’t be making up time lost on running in the swimming or biking department. Running is my strong suit. I can finish a shorter race in a pretty impressive time.

I am a beginning swimmer. I am just learning how to do the breast stroke. Sometimes after finishing my swimming class I am full of confidence, but most of the time I am not.

Can I really do this?? How am I going to feel if I fail in my own eyes?

Everyone around me has been very encouraging. Most people think that I am crazy. This is just the crazy that I allow people to see on the outside of me. But you, my followers and friends, really get to see the full picture. Lol.

As you look in as a spectator of the event, you will see an outward struggle for endurance. But inwardly, I want to outrun my demons. I want to conquer the feeling of not being good enough. I want to be a stronger person. I want to succeed. It’s the inward fight that requires so much more stamina.

The third time is the charm. Right??IMG_0579