Friday, September 28, 2012

Omaha Marathon: A happy place & my happy pace

Let it be said that I hate long distance driving. Anything over an hour or so, I really don't want to do. I'll be your co-pilot. I'll stay awake the whole time you're at the wheel, but I really don't want to drive. There is too much responsibility with gnawing anxiety. So this weekend I took my longest solo drive, just me and the girlios. It took me two years to put on my big girl pants and drive out to see my dear friend, Chris, who moved to Omaha. Chris has taught me so much about being a mother, friend and a Christian. She taught me that my brain is unusual but not alone. And she speaks fluent snark too. Her two girls are the same age as my two oldest, and when they lived here, we spent a lot of time together hanging out, doing life. I treasure that time.

It's an eight hour drive to Omaha without stops. Four girlios have to make stops, frequently. Did I mention that I don't like to drive? To add to it, my littlest girlio spiked a fever the day before we were going to leave. Stressful. With a new set of tires and some Tylenol, the girlios headed across I-O-W-A to Omaha. I wish I could write Iowa longer, like it felt. It's really not a bad drive; I barely had to turn.

I was a little worried about how everybody would get along after not seeing each other for two years. When we arrived, my worries quickly dissolved. It was almost as if no time had passed. The girls played well all weekend. Yes, little things came up, but overall it was lovely. Chris and I talked the first night until very late, catching up. The only think we did on Saturday out of the house was to pick up my bib. The expo was small and welcoming. There was also a balloon animal maker, which was perfect for five girls. The girls came home with headbands as well. I did go to bed early the night before the race. Sleep was not optimal the whole weekend. A sick flailing kid can be disruptive when sharing a bed. The last night I decided to sleep on the floor. It was marginally better.

The race started at 7 am. Despite my desire to just get up, run the race and come back, Chris drove me to the race and stayed to cheer me and others she knew during the race. The race went through the ConAgra complex at mile 7 and 11, and Chris was there cheering. It's nice to see people on the course. The complex was one of the prettiest parts of the course. There was another section that looked onto the Omaha skyline. The race has a 10k, half marathon, and marathon. Everybody started together. The course looped back to the start/finish line. The first loop took the 10k to their finish. The second took the half to the end, and the third took the full to the finish. The field was small, between 3-5 thousand total participants. That's perfect for me. I totally scored on a short portapotty line.

We look cold. Don't we all look cold?
It was about 40 degrees at the start of the race. I ran in my Ruu-Muu running dress. I love running in it, especially half marathons. I can put my Gus in the back, and I'm on my way. I am contemplating wearing it for my full marathon in three weeks, but it scares me to not have water with me. I had to borrow gloves from Chris. I stuffed them in the Ruu pockets when it got warmer and my Gu count went down. I also wore my arm warmers, compression capris and my race shirt over my Ruu. I had my race shirt made at Running Banana a few years ago. It says, "Take Everything in Stride" on the front. On the back it says, "Please pass me. I don't mind. I didn't come to start; I came to finish." People in Omaha are nice, super nice. A woman asked if she could take a picture of my shirt at the start. There was further discussion about my shirt at the start, but I was a little OCD about the wedge I had. I couldn't run with my undies in a bunch.

My race shirt. I always look better at the beginning.

I didn't run with a watch. I expected there to be a few clocks on the course, perhaps at the 10K cut off. There weren't. I had no idea how fast I was going. I ran purely by feel, finding my happy pace. When I did see my time at the end (2:18:52), I didn't know how long it took me to get to the start line (4min). The first mile was crowded, and my legs were cold. The mile markers were little sandwich signs like those that tell you not to use the bathroom because they are cleaning. I almost missed it. During mile two there was a great discussion about 'running tourettes.' The runners started dropping f-bombs to demonstrate and I decided to kick it up a notch to get ahead of the bombardment. Around mile 3 I started thinking about how much I hate running and complaining about being out here. Looking back, I was having running tourettes. It passed. Many people talked about my shirt. "Love your shirt." "Best shirt on the course." "I took a picture of your shirt." Super nice people. It was almost too much attention for me.

By the 10K I was feeling good. I looked at my times yesterday. I ran a 10:29 pace for the 10K, and a 10:08 pace for the rest of the race. I guess I was feeling spunky. There was a great uphill at 7.5 and a great downhill at 9.5. I find downhills more taxing than uphills. I know I missed a few mile markers. I had a few nice conversations along the way. A woman in front of me had run 18 miles the previous day. She still beat me. Rock star. When I turned the corner into the finish, I was pretty happy with my time. When I got an email later for my official time, I was even happier (2:14:49).

Look at the medal. Don't look at my hair.

There were fully dressed Marines handing out medals at the finish. I normally keep my medal in my purse for a few days to remind me of what I did when I go back to 'real life.' The medals from the Omaha marathon are made out of glass. The half marathoners get clear recycled glass, and the full marathoners get colored glass. I had to take the medal out of my purse when I got home. I have small children, and my purse takes a beating.

After the race it took me a while find Chris and head out. We went to the Omaha Zoo later in the afternoon. It's very cool, and we spent the rest of the time hanging around. We could definitely use another day there.
Hanging out at Omaha Zoo (and random woman)

It was sad to go home the next day. It was a fantastic time and a good run. Chris tells me that there is a marathon in Lincoln in the spring. Hmm. I made the drive and we made it home. I even saw someone else sporting the race shirt at a gas station in Iowa and I found that encouraging. In a couple weeks I head out to Indy with the girlios for a full. It's half the drive. I think I can make it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Courage: Moving from Discouraged to Encouraged

So I haven't been blogging lately. I don't feel like I have time. I've fallen into fall and am still waiting to hit bottom. Every week since school started something new has been added on to the schedule. Piano, soccer, homeschool group, college class, work. One huge balancing act. It's the tyranny of the urgent until we get the rhythm down of the fall schedule.

And I have to say I am feeling discouraged. Even now as I am surrounded by a messy house and the girlios are just one phrase away from another fight (or weeping), I feel guilty about sitting down to type. The to-do's call, plead and scream. I've spent most of the day mulling over homework problems for class tonight, and two of them still elude me.

I have a lot to be encouraged about. This weekend during my 20 miler (I only had to do 18) I passed the 600 mile mark for the year. My pace was awesome for me. I am pretty sure the Garmin lies (in my favor). My girlios are healthy and doing well in homeschool. My husband and I still love to cuddle and talk late into the night. We just got a new bed and after a few nights of adjustment, I sleep solid. The weather is cooler. The praise list could go on and on.

I find it amazing, the power of one thing, to undermine my confidence. I am taking another math class this semester. It's a doozy. It's uncomfortable. The material (differential equations) and the classroom environment are uncomfortable. Why can't it be as easy as calculus? Why isn't there another gal in class? Why do I have to be the oldest? Why does it seem to be so cryptic? Why do the problems take so long? It's exhausting. And it's discouraging. You may be saying, as I also say to myself, that the other people in class shouldn't matter. Unfortunately, environment matters. Blocking it out is tiring. For many years, I would have told you that there were no differences between girls and boys. Then I had girls.

Anyway, I've been processing my discouragement. Yesterday, I taught my first day of 5k running and fitness class at our homeschool group. We are doing the couch to 5k plan, and yesterday was day one. I have 17 kids in class. Some are already runners, and some have never run before. My pace puts me near the back of the pack. I am okay with that, but it has to be discouraging for some of the newbies. I am so proud of all of them. So excited! They did awesome, but they may not be feeling awesome. I can think of a few people that may be very discouraged with how it went. I want them to stick with it, see improvement and be encouraged with themselves. I want them to make the move from discouragement to encouragement. Have courage. Do their best and forget the rest. Advice I should take to heart.

Being a teacher and a student at the same time has many privileges. I learn about both sides of the relationship. In November, I will be taking the state certification test for math and if I pass it and this class, I'll be submitting my 24+ hours of math to add a math endorsement on my teaching certificate. Although I am struggling in this class, I am trying to be the student I would want my students to be - asking questions of the teacher, making connections in class and seeking out other sources for a better understanding. I remind myself that it is good for me to empathize with future students that I will have and even current ones. This feeling I have, discouragement, is not foreign to many people regarding math. I really do want to be part of the solution.

So if there is anything in your life right now, like me, that is causing you discouragement, may I encourage you, as I am trying to encourage myself.

Have courage. Be strong and courageous.

On that note I have to go; I have two more problems to wrestle with.