Archive for October, 2011

When we were in Chicago, the day after the marathon, MJ and I got to chatting with a few other runners about past races they’d done and how they compared.

Well,” one guy started, “I did the Marine Corps Marathon last year and Chicago’s spectators were way better. In DC all you get are bitchy Washingtonians sipping their lattes and cheering you on. It’s so annoying.

Really?” I responded. “Because we’re actually from DC* and did Marine Corps last year, too. And I have to tell you – Chicago’s spectators may have been more organized, but the signs in DC were far more creative. I loved the spectators at Marine Corps.”

It kind of took the wind out of his sails, which was part of the point. But the other, FAR more important part was that Marine Corps spectators are phenomenal. And this year – yesterday – they were even better.

I had a smile on my face nearly the entire time, thanks in part to signs like “You run better than Metro!” and, at Hains Point, “No sweat! It’s just the tip!” and also thanks to the Cheer Squad, consisting of Mama, Daddy (thank you both for coming down!), BNF, Vandy, and Nicstress.

BNF even managed to snap this photo as I ran by around mile 17.

Photo Credit: BNF

See that smile? I was having an amazing time. And I was feeling far better than I ever thought possible after running 17 miles.

That, plus seeing the Cheer Squad again at mile 20ish (sorry I missed your high five, Nicstress!), was enough to keep me motivated over the bridge, through Crystal City, and up to mile 25.

There I saw a sign that said “Accio finish line!” (a Harry Potter reference that thrilled me) and was able to push it just a little harder to meet BNF at 25.5. He finished the race with me, even doing the Iwo Jima hill again (even though he’d already done it once earlier in the 10K), pushing me the entire way.

And I’m so glad he did because now I have a brand new, shiny PR of 4:29:09! I took 5 minutes off my Chicago time, proving that temperature can make far more of a difference than elevation.

I might be shuffling today, and my knees are absolutely not happy with me, but it is so very worth it.

Everything about the race was amazing – especially the spectators. Truly, Chicago has nothing on you.

In three more weeks we’ll see how Philly stacks up. Two down, one to go!

Photo Credit: BNF

 *It’s a whole other debate about when you can actually say that you’re from DC. But for the purposes of this conversation, I felt it appropriate.

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Let me just start by saying that I love my little Ford Focus. I do.

It has done me well these past six years, helping me move from apartment to apartment, and making countless trips up and down I-95. And I have always marveled at how deceptively big it is on the inside – which has been extremely handy in those moving trips.

But this past Saturday I think we finally found its max.

We went to IKEA. I was sure that the bookcase we had our eye on would fit in the trunk, considering we’d previously bought and transported a TV stand and desk without problems.

BNF was sure that the car was too small.

Turns out, he was right this time.

I suppose it didn’t help that the bookcase came in four different boxes. And it also didn’t help that we decided to purchase a GIANT rug in the same trip.

BNF worked some magic with the twine, and it was my brilliant idea to stick the rug through the back windows.

Here, it looks almost comical. On the way home from College Park, however, I spent nearly the entire ride facing backwards, just in case something decided to slide out – poised to grab it if it did.

I’m sure that would have helped.

Regardless, we made it back in one piece, with no lasting damage to the little Focus, and losing nothing along the way.

And while this trip was a success, I suppose, I’m still fairly certain that next time we’ll use an SUV.

Though, as Mama said when I emailed her the photo, “Nothing sticking out of the sunroof – you’ve got plenty of room!

I’m sure that would have worked if we’d gotten pulled over.

Update – the finished product!

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As a Conflict Resolution student, and an International Affairs nerd in general, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about methods of reconciliation. And the constant trend is that there can be no reconciliation without an airing of truths.

Then I started about thinking about what truths of my own I would air, and remembered a couple years ago, when I did just that – and how freeing it was.

So why not give it another shot?

I know that we don’t speak anymore and, let’s be honest, we were never really friends, but I am truly sorry for what you’re going through. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

You’re not as important as you think you are, so please help out when we ask for it.

I understand your desire to want to practice French. I want to do that, too. But you sound pretentious when you do it right in the middle of an English conversation.

I am honestly impressed with your networking skills. But I still won’t ask your advice because I don’t trust you.

I didn’t tell you I’d be in Chicago because you had already let several emails go unanswered. And that’s okay. I hope you and J are doing well.

I really wish you hadn’t moved.

It drives me crazy how we always seem to work according to your timetable. You talk about friendship like it’s an unbreakable bond, but you’d never know it the way you cancel every plan we’ve ever had.

I’m so excited for the both of you! And I can’t wait until May!

Please stop using Facebook as a weapon. You are far too old for that shit.

There may not be any reconciliation to these truths – whether because it’s not needed or will just never happen – but the truth-telling on its own can work wonders.

Maybe I should try this on a regular basis.

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Back in September, BNF joined a baseball league and last night I finally got the chance to go to one of his games. One of the first things he told me about when he started was the coach. “He’s really anti-marriage,” he told me. “He actually sent me an article about how marriage is bad for you after I told him I was engaged.

So, naturally, I couldn’t wait to meet this guy, and I was certain that I’d be welcome at the game.

Coach did not disappoint.

I introduced myself when we got to the field, before the guys started warming up.

So you’re going to try that marriage thing?” he asked me. “It’s a mistake. You’ll be so bored. Can you really imagine spending the rest of your life with the same person? God, that’s awful.

When I told him that not only was I excited about my upcoming marriage, but that I was inspired by my parents (who will be celebrating 35 years in November!), it prompted him to ask me how old I was.

You’re only 26? And you can really imagine spending the next 20 to 30 years with the same person?

I’m not really sure how we got from “the rest of your life” to “20 to 30 years,” unless he thinks that everyone dies before 60. What an optimist.

After Coach left the bleachers to go warm up with the team, another guy who had been sitting there the entire time, unassociated with the team, turned to me.

That guy is a piece of work! He’s really something else.

I assured him that I’d been warned and we laughed and chatted a bit. And when he stood up to leave he joked, “Well, I guess I’ll just go back to my “boring” wife of 21 years. I’ll tell her, ‘you know, honey, I thought things were great until I heard this unsolicited advice from a guy at the field – guess we’ll have to change things up.‘”

The real kicker, though, aside from the reaction of complete strangers, came at the end of the game, when Coach started a sentence with, “My girlfriend…

Well, now. I definitely did not see that one coming.

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I could sit here and tell you all the things I loved about Chicago this weekend. And it would be a long list because the weekend was amazing, and MJ and I had a blast being tourists. But the best part of the weekend was the reason we were there in the first place.

The Marathon.

About 6:30am...

About an hour later, as we near the starting mat

In my last marathon I finished in 4:56:29 – a new personal record for me, beating my old time by more than two minutes. When I set my new goal of 4:45 to 4:50, I felt it was a stretch because I remembered what the previous marathons felt like; it was as if I’d been pushing myself as much as humanly possible.

Turns out, that may not have been entirely accurate.

When MJ and I lined up Sunday morning, I could feel the butterflies, and I knew I wanted the 4:45.

As we crossed the start line, I felt stronger than ever. We wound through the streets of Chicago, passing through neighborhoods full of spectators and supporters. There was cheering and singing and high fives. And I’ve never been more grateful for the signs reading, “Way to go, complete stranger! You look great!

I checked Guillermo each time I passed a mile marker, just to make sure I was staying on pace, and before I knew it I was building up a time-cushion. First it was just a couple minutes, and then by the half mark I realized that I was roughly 10 minutes ahead of where I should have been.

That knowledge, coupled with the encouraging texts from Mama, BNF, LB, and RB, was what kept me pushing through the end.

When other people were walking, I was getting messages along the lines of, “Run like Tony DiNozzo is watching!” How could I not get a little kick in my step?

In a race like this you can feel the energy of the finish line before you see it. The crowds get thicker, the cheering gets louder, and you find the reserves you thought you’d already depleted. And when I felt that, I sprinted.

When I crossed the finish line, Guillermo was practically beaming back at me.

Official time: 4:34:25.

Official feeling: Fuck yeah! (Followed quickly by the thought of – dear God, how am I going to do this again in just three weeks?)

Who knows – maybe the runner’s high will last until Marine Corps.

But even if it doesn’t, Guillermo and I will always have Chicago.

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Okay. So this video has nothing to do with where I’m going or why, but I love a good cheesy, impromptu-singing scene. And Bear. And I can’t write “leaving on a jet plane” without this reference.

But still. I’m not going to space. I’m going to Chicago, where I’ll be attempting to check a few things off my 26 list. Most notably, part of #3 and all of #16.

I haven’t decided, yet, if #16 is optimistic or naive, but we’ll find out on Sunday as my body cries for it all to be over.

Joke’s on you, body. This is just the beginning.

If you have any last minute Chicago tips that I just simply shouldn’t miss, please do share. I plan on being a total tourist all day tomorrow.

If only I could find my fanny pack…

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