Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chicago Marathon - it took a village!

I promised I would write something more eloquent about the marathon when my brain started working. I think it is healed now, one week later. 

Let me first say, it takes a village to run a marathon.  At least it did for me.  I trained for four months in a very consistent and quantitative way.  It was the most difficult training I’ve done in my life.  When my body was done running at about the twenty mile mark on race day, I summoned the strength of   my amazing village.  I thought about all the people who I love and who love me.  The ones who listened to my stories about ice baths and missing toenails and knew that every Saturday morning I couldn’t be counted on to do anything because I was out running somewhere – and that every Saturday night I’d probably be in pain, looking to eat enough food for a village, and definitely not be up for walking anywhere.   I met some amazing NEW friends along the way.  (And I got in touch with some terrific old ones.)  Flat out, I will thank my daughter Reid who was my number one cheerleader.  I love her.   

As for the race, I have nothing to compare the Chicago Marathon to, but I cannot imagine a better course, day, or city of inspiring people.  At every turn, there were MORE people, just pouring themselves out for you.  Imagine a MILLION people cheering for you.  You can’t right?  Until it happens, then it is awe-inspiring, pain-numbing, and mind-blowing. (PS I am somewhere in this picture!)

My stomach was a mess of nervous knots on the race morning. (I only slept 2 hours!) I had been dealing with some pain in my right knee.  I couldn’t even choke down a bagel.  I asked God to help me. Please don’t let me fumble on the goal line was my specific request. (I’m a football girl) I knew God would understand. On my ride to Grant Park, the driver said “Don’t be nervous. If you did all the home work, you’ll do fine on the test.”  I thought of those words several times over the next two hours.

After going through a very thorough but kind security check, I saw a group of 3 twenty-somethings who seemed fun and happy and I asked if I could join them.  I didn’t need to be in my start Corral G until 7:45am so I had time to kill and I didn’t want to be alone and contemplative. When I asked the kids where they commuted from that morning they said, “we came up from a small town in Indiana called Crown Point.” What! That is where I’m from!  It seemed like really good karma that we had hooked up.

I parted company with the kids at about 7am and checked my gear.  I had to pee so I waited in line.  While there, the public address announcer said there would be a thirty second moment of silence for the Boston Marathon bombing.  The crowd of forty thousand went completely quiet. I started to cry. It was a pretty serious cry, big tears, probably a release of all the emotion that had been building over the entire week.  I was surprised by this flow of tears but I just let it go.  It didn’t last long, and I didn’t want to lose the salt or the water – and I felt silly crying alone - so I dried my tears and headed to the start Corral.

In the start corral for 40 minutes I was super cold. I think it was in the low 50s.  I had shorts, a tank top and some arm sleeves on.  I was pissed at myself for not bringing something to shed off as everyone else seemed to have a jacket or sweater, or gloves.  With ten minutes to go, the guy next to me threw down an old fleece jacket and I picked it up off the ground.  He looked at me and said, “Seriously?”  And I was like, yup!  I also, unfortunately, had to pee again.  I saddled up to the 4:25 pace group  - that’s 10 minute miles over the 26.2 and got ready to start.  It took a while for the pack to move, but I crossed over the start line at 8:07am, shed the fleece and started to run.

The first few miles are a blur.  I know we were in a tunnel pretty early on then we ran over the Chicago River and there was such brilliance to the day that it hardly seemed real!  Running down the middle of the street over the Chicago River with gorgeous skyscrapers and sunlight.  (Note to self, try to get over to the pad they’ve lain out on the bridges as the grates are hard with the sneakers)

At the turn onto Grand Ave I was suppose to see my girlfriend Barbara and her girls, but there were SO MANY PEOPLE and I wasn’t sure what they were wearing. Somehow through all the noise, I heard Mindy’s voice, and I saw Kris, Mindy and Michelle standing on Grand!  Wearing their, SHARON RUNS FOR BEER hats!  They took the picture above, that’s right at the turn on Grand.  I was really needing to pee at this point so at the very first port-0-potty stop I went! No one wants to run when they need to pee.  And had to sprint ahead to catch back up to my pace group.  But after the potty break, I was revived!

I broke down the race into three parts: the North, the West and the South.  I will tell you the NORTH was fantastic.  It flew by.  I got all the way to Addison and my knee was great.  There were bands and fans and crazy fun signs (I thought you said 2.62 was one of my favorites.)  In Lincoln Park it seemed like every man near me ran onto the grass to pee!  I also saw my friend Meg and her son just as we turned to head south from Addison. Carson was wearing his red under-armor hoodie just as planned.

When we got down to Adams Street, the West section began.  Miles 13 – 20 are tough nuts to crack!  I knew I had some people to see in this section so that kept me looking forward.  At the half marathon 13.1 mile I saw, Kris, Michelle and Mindy again.  They were so awesome again wearing the beer stein hats and screaming my name like BANSHEES!  I took a sip of Coke and ate a Chocolate GU from Mindy.  They took a terrific picture of me too, and really I felt great with a time of 2.11 at the halfway point.  (still with my pace group and on target.)   I saw PJ at mile 18 and even though he was on the wrong side of the road and I had to run in reverse direction to get to him, I was so happy.  But from that point on the pain really set in.  My hips were on fire.  I can’t explain it.  It wasn’t the wall because I never felt like I couldn’t go, I just felt a lot of pain.  My right knee was starting to throb, so every Red Cross station I would yell out for a pack of Biofreeze.  I would rip it open while I was running and slather it on my knee.  It helped.

At mile 20 we turned to the South section of the course.  We were silly close to Comiskey Park at one point and I remember thinking, “is that even close to Grant park?  I think I’m very far from Grant Park.  Where the hell is Grant Park?” Thank god for Chinatown and the bands and the people with paper dragons and flags and dim sum who amped up the volume just when I needed it.  I saw the girls at 20.2, and I know I was looking rough.  They were still cheering and telling me I looked tough. All I wanted was to turn north.  I knew once I was heading north, I could make it.  But the roads kept going south!  

Finally MICHIGAN AVENUE!  Just run towards the tall buildings Sharon.  I tried to be mindful during this stretch.  I tried to focus on a few people and just reel them in and pass them.  Lots of folks were falling apart.  People way younger than me, people older than me, it was equal opportunity destruction.  My legs and ass were burning, that’s the only way I can describe it, but the thought of stopping seemed ridiculous. There were some really great fans on this stretch too.  There was a boom box playing the Rocky theme at one point and I cried.  At least it felt like I was crying, but I don’t think I had any tears.
 I took the red JELLO shot at mile 23. It was not a bourbon jello shot, but it was a perfect amount of sugar and had a strong taste of VODKA.  I only had 3 miles left.  I can run three miles while asleep.  I can run three miles in less than a half hour.  Holy cow, I’m almost done.

Just as I was about to turn off Michigan onto Roosevelt Road, I saw the girls a final time.  I was not expecting them, I was only expecting my mom and Reid and Peter at the finish line. Up the little, albeit mean spirited, hill on Roosevelt Road .  I was shocked at how many people walked on the hill, I mean, you can HEAR the announcer at this point.  And then I could see it.  And I looked so hard for Reid and my mom and Peter and I saw them in their TEAM SHARON shirts.  I even heard Reid cheer my name and that was the favorite part of the day.  And I cried again as I crossed the finish line with a time of 4:39 minutes.

They wrapped me in the blanket and I kept walking for what seemed like an eternity until I got to the runners gear check tent right near the fountain.  Lots of people were crashed at this point.  I just wanted to get my gear so I could call everyone and figure out where to reunite.  Surprisingly, I ran into the group of three from the morning.  They finished at 4:25 or so, not too too much ahead of me!  I was able to take of few pics which they were putting on Facebook and of course I asked them to take one of me.  They took this pic of me in Grant Park.  I’m a crazy hot mess.

My finish time was 14 minutes behind my goal pace of 4:25, but I wasn’t surprised or mad.  I felt euphoria and joy.  It was done.  Later I saw that I was 689th place in my age group, there were over 1600 women in my bracket.  All marathon runners, so again, nothing but happiness!

I was able to meet back up with our group in Millennium Park within about 20 minutes.  They had a 312 Beer waiting for me.  I drank three of them I think, and ate all the food in the pack that the post race team had provided.  I was really thankful for the sausage stick?  Weirdly satisfying. 

I can't thank all of you enough who were part of this.  It was an amazing ride.  Sometimes not pretty for sure, but other than giving life to my three little humans, the best day of my life so far.  Thanks.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sharon likes to run for fun...

 YES - I'm alive. Exciting news Montanans.  I am training for the Chicago Marathon on October 13, 2013.  Yes it's completely exciting and also terrifying.  I didn't want to tell TOO many people for fear that I'd get injured early on in my training and then feel like a putz that I had to drop out.  Now, with all the running I'm doing, people are starting to catch on anyhow.  So, yep, its out there.  I'm going to push this 44 year old body (wait, I will be 45 by October) 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago on a Sunday morning.... for fun.  Yep, I reread that and it does sound just a little insane.

I'm enrolled as a Charity Runner through the Red Cross, hence the Run RED Run lingo.  Here's a link to my page.
Feel free to make a donation if you'd like. (that would be terrific!)  Red Cross is a kick-ass organization, I'm so pleased to be running for them.

So the training.  There is a LOT of running.  Duh! I'm using Hal Higdon's marathon training book that my friend purchased me for my birthday.  (Thanks for that KG)  I also bought myself the Hal Higdon iphone app, which is pretty cool to run with too.  It tells me how far I need to run each day, when I need to rest and when I need to cross train.  (It doesn't tell me when I need to STOP drinking white burgundy so I won't have a big head for my run, but that's a problem to address later.) Hal - or at least I think it is Hal - periodically speaks to you during your workout with these bizarre zen-like words of advice.  One recent quip was, "Be like the flower in the meadow, no struggle."  I started laughing at that one.  I'm constantly struggling Hal!

I have 92 days left to train --so says my app.  Today was my first double digit workout.  10 miles.  My knees are tired and I have a dull headache.  Maybe I'm a bit dehydrated?  I'm trying to utilize this Chi Running form where my knees will be totally free of the running equation, but I'm still learning and practicing and body sensing.  It's coming a bit, but the work is slow.

I'm not going to feel guilty at ALL about eating a marshmallow milkshake tonight.  (The fact that I'm completely obsessing about it is a little creepy though.)

More on the training and the state of my knees, thighs, feet, toes and abs to follow.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Spring cleaning - and shame

I was brainstorming on a blog post (and simultaneously watching Columbo, drinking coffee and texting Kris) and she said - why don't you just clean out your closet?

And I thought, this could be a good post.  And it might keep me honest about the ridiculous stuff I keep and possibly shame me into getting rid of some of it!  It COULD be brilliant.  (It will fall short I'm sure)  I believe I'm pretty good about getting rid of the stuff I won't wear again, but I KNOW I've got a pair of Ivory GAP corduroys in a drawer up there.  Why, why, why?

So where to begin?

Let's talk SCARVES?

Yes I seem to have a lot of them.  (ok and yes that is a MOP in the top of the frame of this picture.  Don't judge)  Scarves accumulate.

There are a bunch I've received as gifts -- you can't get rid of those?

There are the ones that are made of silk.  They seem really nice and I'm sure I will find some way to use them.  I read an article where you can fold them and turn them into summer belts?  and even headbands?  If I had headband-able hair this may prove useful, but 

There are some that are really for keeping me warm.

And some are frivolous. OK MANY are frivolous. Some look completely ridiculous on me.  I keep thinking I'm going to wear them (the ridiculous ones), but never do.  They all seemed like such a good idea at the time.  

I look at this picture and feel overwhelmed.  Why do I have so many?  Should I even start this spring cleaning project?  It's practically summer anyhow.  I can't even begin to think about posting the crap that occupies the closets.

On a positive note, the Ivory GAP corduroys from 2006 have been located and sent to Goodwill.  Damn they still fit.  Would I have worn them again?

Now I'll never know!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Old people can spice up your life

I thought about the title of this post.  Does it sound mean to use the words "old people"? I didn't mean it to.  Maybe I'll coin a more apropos title before I'm done.

Today I've had a few moments to contemplate age.  It's my dad's birthday.  He is 79.  I posted a picture of him onto my FB page where he is 35.  He looks like a different man.  In the shot I'm a little toddler sitting on his lap.  He's not the dad I remember here.  The dad I know, perpetual dad as I think of him, is 50 years old.  It's the age he was when I was in high school.  No matter how old he gets, when I call him on the phone, the person on the other end looks like perpetual dad.  When I step off a plane and real-time dad is waiting at the gate, I'm shocked at the person greeting me.  He's so different than that picture I have stored in my mind. Of course, it's not scary or mind-blowingly strange, just something my brain has done.  It's imprinted and will always need some tweeking.

Last week I got to spend some time with a gal I met at work and have continued a friendship with, who is, well, sort of old.  She's 80.  I love visiting her because she's always so charmed to see me.  She opens up her home, she offers me copious amounts of tea, she asks if I want to play cards or work on puzzles.  She gives me her full attention when I'm there.  That's something you don't get very often by ANYBODY these day.  I've stopped bringing my phone in when I visit her because it is such a huge distraction and I'm irritated by it.  I always leave her house feeling like I'm the one who got the better end of the bargain.

If you spend any time with an "old" person you will immediately understand why you should make this a part of your life.  They are kind.  (Yes, they can be cranky. How would you feel if your body stopped doing all the things you thought it should do?)  But man, they can tell a great tale.  They know things that you don't.  They've experienced life in a way that you haven't.  The men usually have an amazing fashion sense.  Ask an older gent about a pocket square, you'll get an earful.  Ask the same guy about shining shoes -- that's another tail that could lead to good places.
Or his first job or the good God ---- THE WAR!  These are amazing stories that are dying to be told.

Let's face it.  We are all getting old. Someday I will be the person waiting for my bell to ring.  I hope someone comes to hear MY stories.  I'm terrified no one will.  Yep, it can sometimes be difficult.  You may have to repeat yourself.  You may have to fine tune those ears to really REALLY listen to what the person is saying. Try it.  Not because you're some saintly person earning accolades or brownie points, but because its something amazing that's just waiting for you.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Small town, big fun!

Just a brief follow up on the girls weekend in Indy.
First off, it almost DIDN'T happen!  A bully of a storm rolled into New England just as my Delta Flight was scheduled to leave.  I ended up getting out of Boston a day early on American & flew to Chicago instead of Indy. I'm lucky to have a friend who picked me up on a moment's (ok she had four hours) notice at O'hare, and we started our weekend a day in advance.

Because of the reroute through Chicago, I got to spend a little time in the town I grew up in - Crown Point, INDIANA.   Here's me at the beautiful Court House on our town square.  Kris (my driver) and I went to the McDonald's where we used to ride our bikes on Saturday mornings to get french fries with our babysitting loot.  The large fries in the red cardboard container seemed so much bigger then!   But I digress.  The McDonald's has a lot of history for Kris and I, there were the giant fries of course, but also an unfortunate bicycle crash that took place in the parking lot when I was 11.  We laugh about this now, but my three speed suffered major damage. (and my ego)  There was an additional incident when I wrote a boys name on the bathroom wall and was later confronted by the boy's MOTHER!  It went something like "I don't like seeing my son's name on a bathroom wall."  Agreed.  I was a complete dork.

Back to girls weekend.  How much fun is it possible to have?  We had it.  It's amazing to have these women in my life who I've known since GRADE SCHOOL.  We always just fall right back to where we left off and it is totally amazing.

Here is a shot of us at the Ratskeller pub in Indy.  We pretended we were 25 again, even though we're that plus 20!  We chatted up the band!  And took photos with them.  There was a lot of alcohol and dancing.  And late night back at the hotel, I think I ate an entire pizza! 

My luggage packing skills are still suspect.  My girlfriend Mary kept trying to keep me organized, as every belonging inside the bag spilled out all over Michelle's floor.   I'm a hopeless traveler. I never think much of my "skills" in this area until I'm with people who are actually organized, and then I know I'm a complete mess.  Luckily, these ladies don't judge.  I did lose a few socks, that reminds me to call Michelle and see if she found them.

I can't report too much on all the happenings of the weekend, that would be like kissing and telling.  But suffice it to say, I was very happy.  Have you danced lately?  Have you danced lately to songs you have NO IDEA what the lyrics are and you just keep saying TRUCK DRIVER, TRUCK DRIVER.  That's what I do. It's totally acceptable.

So my last word on the weekend is this... if you have friends that have been in your life for most of it, make every effort to keep them in it.  

You'll be the better for it!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I was born in a small town....

I am going to Indiana this weekend.  I say HOME even though where I'm staying isn't really anywhere near the part of the state where I grew up. But heading to Indiana always feels like going home. I love Indiana.  I love the way the people are friendly. I love the way they seem to really listen to you.  I love the way they wave when you're out for a walk.  I love how they wear tennis shoes and drink POP. But most of all, I love these amazing women I'm going to see who all live there.

There are eight of us hooking up in Indy this weekend.  We all grew up Hoosiers -six of them are Hoosiers still, one lives north of Chicago, and of course I live in Massachusetts.  We've all been friends since junior high or earlier.  Whenever I think of these ladies (really we aren't very ladylike) I think of that quote at the end of Stand By Me.

 "I never had any friends later on in life like the ones I had when I was twelve, Jesus, does anyone?"
We don't have any firm plans.  There will be booze, I'm sure (I hope)  There will be lots of riotous laughter.  The kind where you might accidentally pee a little (at our age it happens!) I have a bag packed and there are six skirts in it.  I am only there for two nights!  But just thinking about all of us in a room trying on each others outfits and jewelry and junky makeup - like we did before 8th grade dances -- made the skirts seem like a good idea.

I wish we all lived closer sometimes. Technology has played a big role in making weekends like this upcoming one happen - with Facebook, texts and skype.  So THANK YOU technology -but mostly it's an effort on each of our part to either be in or be out.  

And if by chance you fall out for a few years, the circle is never so tight you can't get back in.  
There are plenty of loopholes built into our friendships for that.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mine eyes have seen the glory...

I can't see anymore.

For real. I am slowly losing my eyesight.  In the old age kind of way.  It's depressing.

More than wrinkles or droopy eyelids -this gets me.   The gig is up.  My indestructible boast-worthy perfect 20-20 eyesight is both a scam and a sham. It's over now. (cue bad singing w poor lighting)

My mom used to have me thread her sewing needles (she rarely sewed so it was infrequent, but I remember thinking, that's weird, why can't she see do this?  She could do everythng else. She permed my hair!)  I feel her pain.

I can't see the shades of my lipsticks anymore.  (see my lipstick post, that's rough, and possibly dangerous.)

God forbid, I need to read the MEID number from behind the battery of a cell phone.  In that case, I need to take a photograph then zoom in A LOT! I also have a hard time with some text messages

And tonight I couldn't read the dosage on some over the counter stomach stuff I purchased.  Why is the font SO DANG small.

I need readers. Tomorrow I'm going to purchase some. It's not a big thing.  I know its not, but putting down the mantle of youth feels like it will be.