Oct 20 2011

Susan, Beth & Jen
photo courtesty of Susan Heid at
The Confident Mom

Well, shoot.  That half marathon wasn’t going to run itself.

Remember the half marathon I was going to do?  And then the same one that I wasn’t gonna do?  Now it’s the one that I just DID!

That’s right.

If you’ve been following along, you might have whiplash right about now.  Welcome to friendship with me.  Now you know.  I’m wishy-washy.  I’m scatter-brained.  I make up my mind, I change it, and then I repeat, because it’s so much fun.

My kids love it!

To recap, here’s how Race Whiplash works:

  1. My sister-in-law, Kim, peer pressures me into signing up.
  2. My brain, logic, and a stunning lack of training talk me out of it.
  3. My cousin, Jen, peer pressures me back into doing it.

Clearly, peer pressure is a fundamental part of my life.  A part my brain cannot withstand.  Once again, I prove that I am really a 14-year-old boy.  Such is life.

And here’s how a half marathon feels: like I gave birth out of my legs.  In fact, someone asked me how I felt when it was over.  I said, “Emotionally elated.  Physically devastated.” Which is awfully close to how it felt to birth twins.

My twin-birthing story is gorgeous and gory.  I birthed one.  And then, 3 hours and 17 minutes later, I birthed the other.

And, by birthed, I mean the traditional way.  Straight out the hoo-ha.

But, after I birthed Twin #1, I undialated. I’m pretty sure that’s not a medically accurate term, but that is exactly what happened. I was dialated. And then I wasn’t. And I had to relabor from 6 centimeters. Which is a freaking lot of relaboring immediately after giving birth.

But I did it.

You know why? (I mean other than because my child’s life depended on it and they handcuffed me to the table so I wouldn’t run screaming from the delivery room.) Well, I’d like to say that it’s because I’m a champion. But remember how my brain gets in my way? It’s SO not championesque.

So you know why I did it?  Because I had people with training, experience, and chutzpa – my nurses – who looked me in the eye and said with conviction that I could do it.  That I could do it and that I would do it.

Never underestimate the power of emphatic encouragement.  It’s like a drug that makes you feel invincible with the added bonus that you’ll never get arrested for having it in your system.  Win/win!

My cousin Jen arrived at my house two nights before the race.  Those of you who follow along on Facebook know that I love Jen so deeply that I insisted we use both a bottom sheet and a top sheet for her bed.  Some of you love your family farther than the moon.  Some of you love your family deeper than the ocean.  Some of you love your family higher than the mountains.  I love my Jen more organizedly than a thoroughly made bed.  And if you have any idea how often that happens at my house (i.e. never), you’ll know that that is code for A LOT.  I love her a lot.

This was our conversation two nights before race day:

Jen:  “Why aren’t you doing the half-marathon?”
Me:  “‘Cause I suck.  I’m not ready.  I haven’t run in, like, a month.”  (It was more than a month. But, sssshhhhh!, don’t tell.)
Jen:  “You can totally do it.”
Me:  “No, I can’t.”
Jen:  “Yes, you can.  And you will.”
Me:  “OK.”

Before the race, Jen and I met up with my bloggy friend, Susan.  (You can hang out with Susan, too, over at her blog, The Confident Mom.)  It was rad meeting her and her family in person after months of meet-ups online.  (FYI, “rad” is totally making a come-back.  You heard it here first, folks.)

Then, we ran into friends, Michelle and Abbie.  And I use “ran” extremely figuratively, since I’m more of the “conserve all possible energy before the race” mindset.  Warm up?  Pshaw!  That’s what ya do after you cross the start line, folks.


Michelle, Abbie, Beth, Jen, Susan. Check out the window behind us. Beautiful Brides, indeed. 😉

photo courtesy of Alan Akins

Michelle took off like a shot, along with Susan.  They are running machines.

Abbie and Jen graciously stuck with my Slow Self for the duration.  And, guys, they are the only reason I finished. Because “graciously stuck with me” really means that they dragged me along behind them, saying things like, “you CAN do this,” “you WILL do this,” “you’re an endurance athlete,” and “no, the sidewalk is not moving like the waves of the ocean.”

Now, Susan finished approximately an enormous amount of time before me because she was prepared, and, also, because she’s awesome.  So, after a race, a leisurely lunch, a shopping spree, a massage and a vacation to Mexico – all of which she had time to do while I slogged my way toward the finish – Susan hopped in her car and drove by me while I was on my final leg (literally – the other leg had fallen off a few miles back) and dangled herself out of her car window to shout-out some well-timed encouragement.

As encouraging nurses are to successful childbirth… so encouraging friends are to successful half-marathoning.

In all, here’s what I learned:

  1. “These socks will be fine” is a dumb, dumb thing to think before using them to walk 13.1 miles.  My feet are filing a lawsuit, and I think I’m just going to go ahead and plead guilty so I can pay restitution and we can all move on with life.
  2. The things I can do with a support system and encouragement are astronomically bigger than the things I can do with only my brain as motivation.
  3. Miles 9 and 10 are bullies.  They are degrading and demoralizing, unkind and heartless.  I think the only appropriate consequence is to leave them out of future half marathons entirely.
  4. My potty-mouth filter turns off at Mile 11.  I blame miles 9 and 10 for being bad influences.  Next time one of my kids says, “I don’t know why I said it, Mommy.  It just fell out of my mouth,” I’m giving ’em a pass.  It’s really only fair.

In a race, you’re put into a division by age.  I was in the 35-39 year old division.  I came in 459th out of 470 people in my division.  Now, let me help you read that statistic.  ‘Cause you might be sitting there at your computer thinking I was the 458th loser.  But, guys!  I was WAY BETTER than, like, 11 whole people my age!  That’s completely the same thing as being the 459th WINNER.  (I also give lessons in convincing yourself you’re a good mom, so feel free to contact me anytime.)

Walking like I just gave birth to twins – and I would know,