A Day of Reflection: My Dads

I was going to (finally) publish my New Year’s post but, instead of doing final edits on that one, I realized that I felt compelled to write about something else that seemed more important.

Today is my first dad’s birthday. He would’ve been 65.

Taken on his boat when he was a few years younger than I am now. His boat was always his happy place.

Taken on his boat when he was a few years younger than I am now. His boat was always his happy place.

I don’t talk very much about this subject; not because I avoid it or find it too difficult, but because 1. I have an adoptive dad and 2. I lost my first dad many years ago and it rarely comes up — especially since I say “my dad” probably a dozen times everyday when referring to my second dad and no one would think to ask about anything different.

I was very close to my first dad and he was a big part of the world I knew. When he passed away, it was quite sudden in many ways. I was young (13), as was he (41). It was a devastating moment and time in my life and it took me many years to fully recover. Until I was in my late-teens, birthdays, holidays, graduations or any special moment felt tainted by his absence. I didn’t get into celebrating anything, if I even felt like celebrating at all. At the time if I could’ve skipped most of it, I would have.

Since I lost him so young, there are many things I felt he missed. Out of all of them, meeting my son is the one that hurts the most. Actually, it’s the only one that hurts at all now. In the early years, I thought my high school or college graduation , or even milestone birthdays would top the list. But they’re not even close. I’d forgo absolutely everything else if he could’ve just met him. And I can’t help but wonder how my son’s presence would’ve changed him.

But despite my limited time with him, I do have countless wonderful memories and I shared so much with him. He was very instrumental in my life and, of course, is responsible for shaping who I am. As the years go on, there seems to be no end to the pieces of him that I see in myself. Aside from a passion for photography, a love of the ocean and some physical features (unfortunately I did not inherit his height), one of my favorites is that when I really laugh, and I mean a good feel-it-all-over-laugh, I sound just like him. So much so that the first time I recognized it, it made me cry because I suddenly missed him so much that my heart broke. Even today, the occasions that I laugh like that can still catch me off guard. But the difference now is that it makes me smile.

As I mentioned, because this isn’t something that really comes up, especially publicly, as I began this post I quickly realized that I couldn’t talk about my first dad without including my second…

My second dad came into my life when I was just three years old, so not only do I feel like I’ve always known him but he was an immense presence in our family for all the years that followed. Around 19 or 20 our relationship changed. We’d gotten much closer over the years and by then he would refer to me as his daughter and I would refer to him as my dad. It’s not something that was conscious — it just evolved. It was perfectly natural, it fit us and we never thought to question it. He didn’t replace my first dad, and has never tried to — that was never the point. But his involvement has changed my life in countless ways for which I feel indebted. He is one of my best friends, has been an amazing teacher and I’ve always said that if I could have put in an order for another dad, he is what would have shown up on my doorstep. Before kids were even an option for me, I spent a lot of time thinking that one day my kids would be missing a grandpa. As it turns out, that’s not true; and my son is equally as lucky to have him as a grandpa, as I am to have him as a dad. Because of his example, one of my greatest desires as a parent is for my son and I to have the kind of relationship that I have forged with my own parents.

Holding my son when he was barely an hour old.

Holding my son when he was barely an hour old.

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4.5 years later, they’re still like two peas in a pod.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, here’s a little twist: he adopted me when I was 30 years old.

A couple of years earlier, we had a surprisingly casual conversation about him adopting me, for several reasons: we’d been referring to each other as dad/daughter for many years now, it was truly what our relationship consisted of and, in a practical manner, it would give me legal rights should he ever be in the hospital or similar situation. My response was simple, “That’s a great idea. It would make legal, what already is.”

So in the summer of my 30th year, we arrived at family court and I was the only “kid” above the age of about five that day. One of the best parts of that morning was having the privilege to see the people before us go into the court room and then reemerge as a family. To this day that memory still chokes me up. It illustrated and drove home what family means for me.

Adoption is a 100% a choice. Done purely out of free will, with no obligations, someone is choosing to love and take care of another and call them their own. Sometimes, even if they’re already an adult. I love my given family and wouldn’t change them. Since I have a different experience of adoption than most, and I still had the rest of my given family, the process solidified my feelings around “chosen family”. So many of whom I’ve always considered family are not blood related and I certainly count my closest friends today among that group. Lucky doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Some have asked me why I don’t refer to my first dad as my “biological”, “birth” or “real” dad. Yes, there are obviously genetics involved, but I balk at all three of those descriptions. None of them are accurate enough and I feel like it takes away from what I have with each of my dads. It implies that I either didn’t have much of a relationship with my first dad, or that what I have with my second is subpar to the first — neither of which is true. I have two dads. And although I would give anything to have them both here right now, I was only given a certain amount of time with one and I get to spend the rest of it with the other. I am incredibly fortunate to not just have two wonderful dads in my lifetime, but to have someone choose me into their life in this way. Some people don’t even get one chance, let alone two, and I don’t intent to waste that.

Losing my first dad made me better appreciate and understand the meaning of family. At a painfully young age I learned to hold your loved ones close every. single. day. and to tell them you love them constantly. To never waste or pass up a moment and to never stop appreciating their presence in your life. In the end, I’m glad I never skipped a holiday or birthday (no matter how hard I tried) for I would’ve lost out on all the other wonderful memories and times that I’ve created with the family that I do have. I’ve never had what would be considered a conventional family. But I still have an absolutely amazing family and the love and support we give and receive is a gift beyond words.

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

So while I intended to make this a “happy birthday First Dad” post, thinking about him all day not only left me pondering all the wonderful things I had with him and was left with, but it brought me to deeply appreciating my second dad as well. I will always miss my first dad, I will always think about him and I will always wonder how my life would be different if he were still here. But I will never overlook what’s in front of me or what I’ve been gifted. I will still celebrate my first dad today as the day belongs to him and I don’t want to miss that. But I knew I needed to acknowledge them both today, for at least a few moments, since they are inextricably linked.

Every year on my first dad’s birthday I’ve imagined what he would’ve looked like at that age. How many gray hairs or laugh lines would’ve appeared…would he have grown another beard…would he still have his boat…would he be as active or would he be slowing down… But I always end up thinking of him in the way I last saw him: handsome as ever, wearing his shorts and flip flops, camera in hand, smiling and laughing, always living life to the fullest and leaving nothing to stand in his way. Dad, I hope you’re having a ball on whichever adventure you’ve moved onto now, because I’m certain there have been many so far. ♥

Dad5

His other happy place — Hawaii.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

California International Marathon 2012 — Mile by Mile…

It’s no surprise, really. I’m still terrible at finding the time to write posts. And while I have the hope that I will catch up one of these days, frankly, the number of half-written posts sitting in my draft box from race reports or things I found interesting or informative to write about is now staggering. Luckily, the strategy I employed for my recent marathon motivated me to find the time to write and so, for better or worse, here I am.

*Apologies in advance for this turning into a novel because of recounting every mile. Also, please forgive my lack of a writer’s flow and indulging my incessant need to instead keep it organized. (I’m a true Virgo and I really just can’t help it)

CIM 2012

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For every person that asked me post-race how the marathon was, my first word was consistent: SOGGY. Next came the asterisk remark of “but it went better than expected and I’m happy that I got out there and tried.” It was not shocking to me that everyone (especially my mom) questioned not only whether I was still going to run the marathon given the weather forecast for the day, but also my sanity when I answered, “Yes, of course I’m still running.”

Training: 

My planif I made it through the San Francisco half marathon in July without aggravating a calf strain I’d nursed since the Big Sur marathon in April, to start in earnest immediately after and to train for a PR.

The reality: Fall quarter at work turned out to be very busy and, combined with looming life changes, training took a bit of a back seat and got off to a late start. I toyed with the idea of dropping the race, but I didn’t run it in 2011 because of a healing ankle injury and I was really looking forward to running it this year. So, with a now very compact training schedule, I focused a lot on mental training as well since we all know that it’s just as much, if not more so, a factor in marathon success. THEN, on a long run, I came up with an idea that made me want to toe the line even more and that I also thought would keep me motivated from that moment until race day. With that, I was recommitted.

With the exception of my last long run, which was extremely tough (hello, mental training!), the rest were strong and went really well. So well, in fact, that I started to worry that I was peaking too soon. I had already thrown away any “A” goals, so I had less pressure on myself and decided to not worry about it. Just finish, upright, with a smile. That was my new goal.

Pre-race:

I slept fantastic on Friday — the all important night of pre-race sleep. This rarely happens for me, so I counted it as a good sign. After dropping my son at my Mom’s house for a sleepover on the way to Sacramento, I made my way up to the expo.

Sitting in traffic I realized that I’d forgotten a couple of key items, but also knew I could replace them at the expo. Bullet dodged, but somehow that also kicked in some race nerves. Fortunately they were nowhere to be found once I met up with everyone at dinner and started having some fun (that glass of wine didn’t hurt either). I was lucky enough to meet a whole group of twitter friends in real life for the first time and catch up with some old ones. The food was great, the company even better and it was just what I needed to relax before heading to the hotel to get settled.

Layla and I were sharing a hotel room so, after dinner, we headed off to check in and settled down. New friend Desiree was staying in the same hotel, so we all chatted for quite a bit before deciding it was time to try and sleep. The key word there was TRY. Layla and I were not the least bit tired, so we chatted some more and then got sucked into twitter banter that had us laughing ourselves to sleep. It was a fitful night of sleep for me, and definitely not enough rest, but I’d run marathons on less so I sucked it up and got myself out the door at 4:45 am to find this:

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60 mph head winds and continuous rain? Sure! Why not? :-/

Making it to the start line was an adventure in itself. The rain and winds were atrocious, yet I stayed optimistic. I kept telling Layla, “We have plenty of time before the start, this could all very well die down.” And I honestly believed it might. (Optimistic is one thing — delusional is another.) It never did let up and we were basically standing in a storm at the start line. I wondered out loud to Layla “how many racers or volunteers do you think won’t show today?” — and I certainly wouldn’t have blamed them for staying dry indoors. Many, many times we looked at each other and asked, “WHAT are we doing??? We must be crazy…” By the time we made one last bathroom stop, bag checked and made it to the start line, we only had minutes to go and I was anxious to get moving so that I could warm up and feel my hands again.

The Race:

Honestly, in my opinion, the course itself is not very pretty. Maybe I’m spoiled by being able to run in Marin and San Francisco almost exclusively, but I felt like I was seeing the same thing over and over again during the first 21-ish miles. There were small areas that I enjoyed but, otherwise, the streets looked alike, the intersections gave me deja vu and if it weren’t for all the people moving in the same direction and the mile markers changing, I’d have worried that I was running in circles. However… the support was fantastic and that definitely made up for it. From the volunteers at the many aid stations (there was even one at mile 25) to the friends/families/neighbors/dogs (bless you all) that were out cheering — especially considering the conditions — it was definitely in my top three for support and spectators. Add the rolling hills/net downhill that was easier on my legs to the fantastic organization of the race and I can certainly see why this race is a favorite among runners. In fact, I’m already looking forward to going back next year to see what I can do on a (hopefully) dry course.

I mentioned having hatched a plan to keep me motivated in the weeks before and through out the race… It turned into my sole reason for being there and it made this a memorable marathon for me. It went something like this:

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Facebook status to recruit participants.

All the miles were claimed come race morning and although I had the names/miles memorized, I also kept a backup list in a ziplock bag in my hydration belt should my memory fail me mid-race.

And so, here are my mile recaps for the people who claimed each one:

Quick preview: Although I had a wide variety of emotions over the miles, my overwhelming feeling was gratitude. I expected that running each mile for someone would help to distract me, but I wasn’t expecting it to cause me to focus so intently on who the person was to me and what impact they’ve had in my life.

(Although I typically take photos along the course, because of the downpour I didn’t dare take out my phone for photos. I know, you’re terribly disapponted ;-) )

Mile 1:  I kept this mile for myself so I could get focused and mentally prepare for the miles ahead. I also took that time to briefly chat with Layla before we inevitably lost each other in the sea of runners. I felt really good and told myself that, barring hypothermia, as long as I was moving forward then all was well. I would eventually make it to the finish line and that was my only goal today. I relaxed and got excited about what the next 25+ miles had in store.  However, as the first mile came to an end I had a moment of panic. I saw the mile one marker and thought that all the miles and names on my list were off by one. The next person had mile two and the marker said one! Oh, right… This is technically the second mile but I haven’t actually hit mile two yet. Whew! Mid-run thinking can quickly become confusing.

Mile 2: Peggie — I smiled immediately when I thought of you. I thought about how our relationship has grown over the years and I love that I feel like I have a friendship with you outside of my dad. I recalled your visit in 2002 when we went to Ocean Beach with my dad to watch the sunset.

Mile 3: Layne — Ok, I’ll admit, I started to cry during this mile. My initial thought was, “My sweet, sweet boy…” And that was enough to start the tears. I immediately focused on how much I love him, my deep desire for him to be genuinely happy under any circumstance, everything I’ve had to shield him from and how hard I work to teach him how to be a good person in this world. It was a lot for one mile.

Mile 4: Dennis — Luckily, mile four brought laughter as my first thoughts were, “Dennis you crazy MF” :) I thought about how absolutely insane you are for all your running adventures — the Tahoe Triple only being the most recent proof. But in that insanity I also find inspiration. I remembered the Oakland marathon and how much fun our brunch banter was.

Mile 5: Alex M. — You wanted the mile where I find my stride and felt invincible. This was my guess and, maybe it was because I projected that onto this mile, but this is where it happened. I thought a lot about how quickly seven years have passed, and how grateful I am that we’ve always reached out again and picked up where we left off. I remembered hiking the Sutro ruins and exploring the city when you first moved here. And I spent much of your mile appreciating that you always remind me of and bringing me back to the artistic side of myself.

Mile 6: My Mom — In one mile, much of my life flashed before my eyes and it all came back to one thing: you have never faltered. And because of the support, encouragement and belief you’ve shown me over the years, I know exactly how to now give that to Layne. That is a gift beyond words.

Mile 7: Jimmie — First thought: “Oh. Boy.” You have been the source of not just some of  my best nights, but also some of my roughest hangovers :) I laughed thinking about your pop culture knowledge and how it rivals my own. You’ve always been a good friend to me and I appreciate that you always look out for me.

~ At this point I’m just over 25% of the way there and have run from Folsom through Orangevale and entered Citrus Heights — and realize that I never looked at the course map and had no idea how many cities we’d pass through or what I was in for on this course.

Mile 8: My first Dad — Since he passed away many years ago, I chose this mile for him. I reflected back to all of the simple times we shared. All the days on the sailboat, the nights of eating pizza and watching the same movies over and over. I remembered the moment you let me hold your “real” camera for the first time and how I fell in love with photography on that first frame I shot.

~ This was also the mile where it became undeniable that my shoes (and most of me, despite my trusty garbage bag) were soaked. EW.

Mile 9: Marisa — Your resolve and compassion are the first things to come to mind. So I wasn’t at all surprised that you chose the mile you equate with one of the hardest miles in the Nike half marathon. I came across a woman running in spirit of her sick son and focused on the picture pinned to her back for a bit. I shared your mile with them knowing that you wouldn’t mind :)

Mile 10: Oscar — The first double digit mile is a great time in a race to have a sense of peace, ease and support come over me. That is what you bring to our family and I feel so blessed to have you in our lives. I also thought about your relationship with Layne and how fun it has been to watch you two get to know each other.

~ I couldn’t believe it, but I was still wearing the garbage bag. I began to consider ditching it, but it still seemed to be keeping heat in and at least some water out, so I decided to keep it for the time being.

Mile 11: Kim — I passed through Old Town Fair Oaks on this mile and at the end of a long line of spectators, there was a group of girls jumping around cheering. I couldn’t help but laugh and see you in them. They held your same fun-loving energy and it made me feel like you were there.

Mile 12: The Perry Family — If it were not for Shelley talking me into trying a full marathon, I might never, ever, have run much more than 12 miles. I thought about your expanding family and, because of how strong, generous and loving you all are, how fitting it is that you are adopting. I shared part of your mile with a blind runner I ran next to for a stretch and felt so grateful for you having lead me into what has become one of the most challenging and rewarding things in my life.

Mile 13: Don, aka my second Dad :) — It was so appropriate to hear Hindu music playing for your last half mile. I reflected on that pivotal afternoon on Noe Street ten years ago and it brought me back, as always, to what a true example you are and how fortunate I am to have you as a dad. You have held me up and kept me encouraged during my darkest times. And you have celebrated with me during the brightest.

~ I was told by a handful of people that the first half of the race was hilly but the second was flat. Naturally I expected flat and fast from here on out but, alas, it wasn’t true — a mental game I was not prepared to play and so every hill after was met with a little disappointment.  This is also where I finally ripped off the garbage bag but then carried it for two miles looking for a trash can because I couldn’t bear to throw it on the ground.

Mile 14: Chachi! — I wish I had met Chachi. Alyssa (his cat mom) was running CIM in his memory and I focused on the picture she had shown me. His eyes were so soulful and he looked like he’d already lived five lifetimes. I thought about how much she loves him and how lucky they were to have chosen each other and have 14 years together.

Mile 15: Alex A. — I remembered meeting and how unlikely it seemed at the time that we’d ever talk again :) Really, it turned out to be perfect timing for you to enter my life and I am so grateful to now have you as a best friend. I find comfort in knowing that, no matter what, we’ll always be a part of each other’s lives.

~ As I entered the city of Carmichael, I realize that my right calf and ankle are getting angry. I was also approaching a personal milestone. At my first two marathons, I started to have issues beginning at mile 16 which made for a long ten mile home stretch. Even though that hasn’t happened in my last four marathons, I always breathe a sigh of relief to get past it in one piece, still feeling good.

Mile 16: Gabby — The memories of my early 20’s all came back at once! From Friday night skate to Johnny Love’s, to going to your parents restaurant and study sessions, we’ve had so many good times. I hope to be running along side you through mile 16 one of these days :-)

Mile 17: George — Somehow, we bonded immediately :) I wondered how many impromptu coffee chats we’ve had, marveled at how much you’ve been through over the last few years and also at how much you’ve evolved since we met.

Mile 18: Renee — So much went through my head immediately and I didn’t even know where to start on your mile. So I began with rejoicing that there were only single digits left! I thought mostly about coffee at the marina and the afternoon at my dads house. And how happy I am to have met you this year!

~ Somewhere in this mile there was a group of guys in full rain gear cheering and giving high-fives. One of them said to me, “Alright! THERE’S a smiling face!” which made me realize that I was still smiling, despite my calf and feeling like a wet cat.

Mile 19: Vanessa — First thought: “one of these days I WILL, finally, run a race with her.” I thought back to seeing you on the Golden Gate Bridge at SFM in 2011 and how awesome it was to see your face and hear you yell “You’re kicking ass!” That not only made me laugh, but carried me through the next many miles that day. It’s also a moment that I have thought about at every race since then.

Mile 20: Aunt Donna — I scanned through the last ten years and appreciated how close we’ve gotten. I was also missing Uncle John’s rosy cheeks and contagious laugh. I am so grateful for your growing presence in my life .

Mile 21: Max — First it was, “Geez… Ten years and still counting!”. Then I thought back to all the long talks and great moments that I could only have had with you; one of the best being greeting you on the hill at my graduation party. Though I’ve never told you, you’ve been a catalyst for me at times over the years and I hope that in another ten years, I will still have the privilege of calling you a friend.

~ This mile takes us into Sacramento and to the H Street bridge which crosses the American River. It (finally!) flattens out into a pretty 10k home stretch with palm trees and some of the most enthusiastic spectators on the course. Also, the rain has finally stopped and the sun has come out!

Mile 22: Jason — I sighed because it’s been way too long since I’ve seen you. I remembered the fun we had when you were in California and how much I always appreciated  your honesty. I also thought about how lucky everyone is at that hospital because you no doubt liven things up and make them smile every day.

Mile 23: “Little Maria” — I was taken back to very early memories of being with you and my mom on the Russian River, and an afternoon when you took me to pick out presents for my parents. I still remember the little bumble bee patch I chose for my dad and how much he loved it. It created a moment early in my life, teaching me that something so small could go so far.

~ One of the residents on this street had their sound system set up outside and I passed by while “Ice, Ice Baby” was playing. I had yet another reason to laugh and smile as I watched a dad and his two kids dance in the street :)

Mile 24: Gysel —  At this point in the race, I would’ve given anything for one of your boa hugs :) I recalled our long talks and long hours in the darkroom at SFSU, as well as how privileged I have felt to share many running firsts — from your first race to your first full marathon — with you. I love seeing how far you’ve come and it’s been an awesome reminder for ME to just keep going.

~ Just before coming into downtown, I came across a  second blind runner named Shelley Ann. As I passed her and her guide I called out to her, “Nice job, Shelley Ann!”  She turned to the direction of my voice and gave me such a genuine, heartfelt “Thank you!” with one of the warmest smiles I’ve ever seen and it moved me. I was only trying to keep her spirits up but she lifted mine as well.

Mile 25: Nana — This was another emotional mile for me and not just because I was in the final stretch. I thought about how much she’s seen and overcome in her life — yet she always smiles, how much I am like her and how close we have always been. She is getting on in her years but I have hope that one day she will see me cross a finish line. This was also my fastest mile of the race (HUH?). “Make her proud” kept going through my mind and, as hard as it is to do while running (it made me feel like I was going to hyperventilate), I cried. At one point I had to put my hands behind my head to catch my breath because I refused to stop running for fear that I’d just breakdown.

~ Towards the end of this mile was one last water stop and someone standing in the middle of the street handing out red vines. Jackpot!

Mile 26: I saved this one for myself as well so that I could enjoy the last mile. Mile 26 is often the most gratifying because you know you’re right there and the spectators are usually going crazy watching their loved ones come in. I had mixed emotions: I couldn’t believe I was at the end of yet another marathon even though I knew all along that I’d fight the conditions to make it there; but I also felt like I had exceeded any expectations I had for the day. I was proud, I was happy, and I was in awe.

The Last .2: Layne — More emotions. It was mixed between knowing that the finish line was literally around the corner and acknowledging that I gave this last .2 to Layne because he always carries me through from training to the finish line. He is a large part of why I do this, even if he doesn’t quite understand that yet. My first marathon began as a new challenge for me, but quickly became another way to show Layne that anything is possible if you want it. I know he was too young to remember being at my first finish, but he does remember being there for one of my toughest races to date — SFM in 2011. It’s the only race I’ve ever considered a DNF and, as I struggled to make my legs do what I wanted, it became ALL about him in those final miles. Knowing that he was there waiting for me, I asked myself if I had a legitimate reason to quit; one that was good enough to look him in the eye and know it was the better choice. I didn’t. And so I kept going, however slowly, one foot in front of the other, so I could see his face when I finished. It remains my sweetest finish yet because all I heard, over all the noise, as I approached the finish line was, “There’s my mommy! That’s my mommy!”. And before I even collected my medal, my dad handed him over the barricade to me so I could hug him. THAT is a moment that we both remember and that he still talks about to this day. That’s what it was all about in those last miles and what it continues to be about for me, even when he’s not there waiting.

Not my fastest marathon finish but, all things considered, I was pleased.

Not my fastest marathon finish but, all things considered, I was pleased.

With my trusty ziplocked list :-)

My trusty ziplocked list :-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-race:

Beautiful blue skies and the sight of the Capitol at the finish.

Beautiful blue skies and the sight of the Capitol at the finish.

This pictures doesn't really do the size of the tree justice.

This pictures doesn’t really do the size of the tree justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a few minutes I enjoyed the afterglow, the sight of the Capitol and the gigantic Christmas tree. I collected my muddy bag from gear check and then high-tailed it to my car because I was quickly starting to shiver. Once at the hotel, I showered, packed and then Layla and I headed off to meet Chris (another twitter friend I met for the first time) for lunch. It was the perfect ending to the weekend as we three recounted our races (and struggles), laughed (and laughed some more), and talked about what we had coming up next. In an effort to bribe Layla into pacing him at American River 50 in April, Chris bought us lunch. I don’t know how I got lucky in that, maybe it was a goodwill gesture towards her friend since I happen to be there ;-)

The day after:

Other than some mild stiffness (a perk of running slowly?), my only other evidence of the marathon was a swollen ankle. I woke up the next morning looking for my ankle bones in my left foot and panicked a little. I couldn’t fully flex or point my foot, so I walked very slow that day and RICE’d the heck out of it. Thankfully it was significantly better the following day and my ART goddess, Darci, said it was just from overuse and no major injury. Whew!

Disappering ankle bones :(

Disappering ankle bones :(

Final Thoughts:

Three years and seven marathons later, I’ve learned a lot — about distance running, but mostly about myself. Every training run and every race turns into an opportunity for me to learning more about who I am and what I’m capable of. Sometimes I lose sight of the accomplishment of finishing a marathon, but this race made that tangible for me once again. 26.2 miles is a long way to run no matter what and, with so many variables each time, there’s no way to know what will happen between the start and finish lines until I’m out there. Thankfully, this one went better than I could’ve hoped for and I crossed that finish line thinking, “When do I get to do it again?!” I laughed and I cried, I refocused, and I took a few unplanned walk breaks. But most importantly:  I kept going, I kept smiling and I never wanted to quit. I can’t think of a better way to close out the year.

~K

Posted in Running | 6 Comments

The San Francisco Marathon: Final thoughts

So I’ve made it through taper week and I’ve arrived at the maybe more nerve-racking night before the race. My good friend Kim asked me today, “Do you ever get nervous?” To which I replied, “OF COURSE!”.

It’s a different kind of nervous now than when I first started doing this. And full marathons are the only races that can get me nervous now, everything else I’m just excited to run.  What continues to make me nervous is that unknown. But that’s also part of the challenge and the journey. And I’m sure that’s what keeps me coming back to the start line – aside from always wanting my “best” to be better.

So as I lay down to get some sleep, I have many thoughts… I will rest in the knowledge that I’ve done everything I could to make the best of a challenging training cycle, that I will give it my all tomorrow and I will trust that I can and will get to that finish line. I will look forward to seeing so many friends at the start line, on the course and at the finish. I’m excited to see what the day has in store for everyone and I will look forward to celebrating after the race because it’s shaping up to be an amazing day filled with PR’s for so many. I will be excited to have, for the first time all together, my parents and Layne waiting for me at the finish line. As I go along, I will picture Layne’s sweet face, beautiful smile and infectious laugh – especially if the miles get tough. I will remember that part of why I do this is because it’s one way I can teach him to never give up and that he can do anything he wants.

Which brings me to a quote I came across a few years ago when I first got into the craziness of long distance running, and has continued to be one of my favorites:

“Run if you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must, just never give up.” Dean Karnazes

~K

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“Taper Madness”

Let’s ignore the fact that I suck at keeping up with a blog. And let’s definitely ignore all the reasons that my personal life has given me to suck at it (maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to write about that…). And let’s also ignore that it’s been (ahem) a year since my last posting.  So now that we’re over that. Let’s get to it.

I do not like taper week. And I do not remember not liking taper this much before. For me, it has very little to do with the physical elements of tapering. I can actually get my head around that part and it makes sense: extra rest, carb loading, anything and everything to prepare my body to take on 26.2 miles – I get it. Done. But the mental aspect that is what’s killing me.

Just yesterday I was completely psyched for this Sunday. I’ve had a great string of long runs the last few weeks and I had one of the most amazing 12 mile runs that I’ve ever had. I felt strong and in control of every mile, I ended it extremely excited for the race. But today I’m sore and maybe, slightly, regretting pushing that hard one week before race day. And that, basically, has started the ball rolling for all the questions that you don’t want to ask yourself but yet just can’t help yourself: “Did I train enough?” “Better yet, did I train well enough?” “What else could I have done? (because there must be something)” “What if I start hurting early on?” And so on…and so on… Which leads me to running through a mental checklist of my body. Knees, back, hips, ankles, calves and various other muscles, joints or tendons that have recently or have ever given me an issue. Are they feeling strong or weak? Is there anywhere I need to foam rolling more than usual? Should I go see Darci (my amazing ART woman) one more time this week? Blah, blah, blah.

Now, I’ve run enough marathons now to know A: (mostly) what I’m doing and B: that anything can happen – good, bad or indifferent. I also know that these last couple months of training have gone better than I expected or even hoped for. However, I know that I gained a few pounds some months back (when the afore-mentioned personal life made it difficult to adhere to a training schedule) and I’ve yet to lose it all so it’s weighing on me (pun intended) in more ways than one and nags at me. It’s quite confusing to have felt so good and so ready just yesterday. But today? That push caught up with me, along with a terrible night’s sleep, that has me worn out and nauseated – especially after a  particularly busy work day. And I told myself, no matter what, I would get extra sleep this entire week and do absolutely everything I could to have my best shot on Sunday. So far, I’m failing miserably. Even though I can manage to talk sense into myself and feel sane again at various points throughout the day, with very little sleep the tapering mental assault of “I’m probably screwed in so many ways on Sunday” returns.

On the upside (yes there is one here), I know what I need to do. I need to get a lot of sleep (or at least start with some sleep), stretch, get in my easy runs to keep my legs loose, continue to eat right and I’ll be just fine. Half of that is an easy, no-brainer plan and I’m all over it. The other, perhaps more important sleep part, not so much.

And so, I thank you for indulging me by reading this. Maybe you related a bit, maybe it all seems nuts. I do realize that all of this could sound melodramatic or whiny, even. But they don’t call it “taper madness” for nothing.

~K

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Who, What, Where, When and Why?

It’s taken me a long time to get this blog up and running. So long that I’m not even going to tell you how long because, well, it’s ridiculous. I have a long list of ideas for posts and this one is really just to get the ball rolling. It’s intended to be short and sweet, but also give some insight into who I am and why I’m blogging. So, without further adieu…

Who?

Like most, I am many things: a Mama to my amazing & gorgeous son Layne, who is growing up way too fast. A daughter to my wonderful, supportive parents & little sister to my protective, older brother. I’m an avid (read: addicted) runner who’s started running 15+ years ago, but started doing marathons in 2009. I’m also a vegetarian. I’m a photographer by training & passion, a certified personal trainer by desire and a Realtor by trade. I like to use bolditalics, (parenthesis) and “…” when I write, so you’ll need to get used to that. I am a Virgo. And a fairly typical one (yikes). I am spiritual, curious, kind, giving, down-to-earth & I always look for the best in everyone.

What?

This is one reason I had trouble getting this blog going. I felt like I should pick one topic and stick to it or have different blogs for different areas (so Virgo). But…that’s just not me. So unless that changes (doubtful), I’ll blog about many things. Mostly running, I’m sure, since that is what I do a lot. My journey to the next marathon peppered with health topics, training and all the races in between. Motherhood will probably be second, with photography in at third, real estate fourth, and what ever I’m learning or thinking about (which, I’m willing to bet, will be related the afore-mentioned anyway) will round it all out in the top five.

Where?

Here. Until I get someone to set me up differently on my own site (as I know I should do). I just don’t have the desire to think about servers and whatever else goes along with that, and so for now we’ll be meeting here.

When?

As often as my active son and busy life will allow me, or when I run out of ideas – whichever comes first.

Why?

Quite simply: because I’m always seeking knowledge – about something new or learning more about the old. I love passing it all on and I have many thoughts to share. I also love to hear other people’s thoughts, perspectives and information.

So…there you have it! One down, many to go… The San Francisco Marathon is in two days and I’m raising money for UCSF AIDS, Alzheimer and Heart research with this race, so it has taken on a different meaning and journey for me. I also have quite a few friends who will be there (some of them newbie marathoners!) so I’m sure I will have much to share when all is said and done.

Until next time…

~K

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