Stimey believes rodents are funny, autism may be different than you think, and that if you have a choice between laughing and crying, you should always try to laugh—although sometimes you may have to do both.
Hi! I finally moved all my posts and photos off of WordPress and back to where they’re accessible on Blogger. Now that that is done, I will be moving my URL this weekend so it points to that blog. All this means is that when you go to http://www.stimeyland.com/ from now, on, it will look a little bit different.
I will also be canceling my Feedblitz subscriber service and also will not be publishing through WordPress, so if you subscribe through either of these two ways, you should resubscribe using this link.
If you are like me and would never in a million years remember how you subscribed to a blog, I’ve included screenshots. If you get emails that look like either of the below pictures when a new post goes up, you will need to resubscribe.
Also, I have a post planned for next Monday, which will be the first one solely on the new space, so check back if you subscribed but don’t see it. (I don’t think I have to create a new feed once I point the URL there, but I know virtually nothing about this shit, so I might have to.)
Let’s see how this goes! Thanks for being a reader!
Hey, remember Dipshit Friday, when I do dumb things and then tell you about it in the hopes that if I laugh first, you all won’t make fun of me? Well, it’s back.
I’ve got a lot going on these days.
There are several big projects at work that I am heavily involved in and a liiiiiiittle bit stressed out about. It’s IEP season, with two meetings for two kids within four days of each other. I have two trips coming up—one with the whole family and one involving me being in charge of 12 teenagers I (mostly) don’t know in New Orleans. Scheduling everything to work together is a complete nightmare. Plus Alex just got back from a week out of town, during which time I was forced to take over his 6 am waking-up-the-kids duties. Also, have I mentioned that I have three kids that need a lot of driving around and homework coaxing and organizing and feeding OMG WHY SO MUCH FEEDING DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO EAT THAT OFTEN LIKE SERIOUSLY MORE THAN ONCE A DAMN DAY?!?!
I am not…at my best.
I mean, I’m kicking the shit out of all of these things. I am T.C.B.—taking care of business like a goddamn boss, but it turns out that in areas of my life that are less crucial, I am faltering. Like, I am forgetting to do basic things.
I think I realized how all over the place and unfocused I was the day that I parked at the Metro station, went to work, and came back six hours later to find my car was still running.
I HAD LEFT MY CAR RUNNING UNATTENDED FOR SIX HOURS.
Think on that for a minute.
I distinctly remember that morning when I got out of my car and hit the lock button on the door, as I usually do, that something was wrong. The doors didn’t lock. Naturally I assumed that the door lock must just be broken, so I got out, shut the door and locked the car from the outside. Then I walked away. Based upon later experimentation, it turns out that if the car is running, the door won’t lock via the open door lock, perhaps to prevent people from, you know, leaving their cars on.
The funny thing is that my car dings when the key leaves it, so it must have spent all day sort of desperately flashing the warning THE KEY HAS LEFT THE VEHICLE THE KEY HAS LEFT THE VEHICLE THE KEY HAS LEFT THE VEHICLE while dinging sadly every three seconds.
I eventually came back, of course, and was all, “Why is the car already running?” I decided that I must have accidentally hit the remote start, which I didn’t AND which is actually kinda impossible to do unintentionally. I figured this out when I got in the car and noticed three things:
1. The ignition was on full “run” instead of the remote start mode.
2. The car was very warm and had that “imminently overheated” smell to it.
3. A significant amount of gas from my previously full tank had disappeared.
Clearly this is a sign that I should employ some self care. Or drop some of my responsibilities. Or take a nap. I think I’ll do that one.
P.S. This isn’t the first time I’ve done something along these lines. During one high-stress time in my 20’s I parked in the parking lot where I worked and went inside only to have a friend drive by hours later and come inside to tell me that I’d left my car door hanging open. I’d just forgotten to close it. So this isn’t exactly a new development. I can’t decide if that’s a good or bad thing.
I was sick the other day and spent about 24 hours either sleeping or trying not to throw up or throwing up. My crowning achievement of the day was when I picked up Jack from his after-school activity, drove a half block, stopped at a red light, opened my door, and puked out the side of my car until the light turned green.
It was a really effective way to freak Jack out.
I’m fine. I don’t know exactly what it was. I thought it was the stomach flu, but since it was so well contained into one day, I am wondering if it was something else. Either way, I’m fine now and mention this mostly because in my late-night delirium, I thought I had a hilarious idea for a blog post called “Highlights of the Flu” and I wrote a list of things on my phone that were said highlights.
This list is incomprehensible. Also? Not all that hilarious.
The one amusing thing is that I took a giant barrel of pretzels upstairs to bed with me because all of our crackers were expired (hmmm, I wonder how I got sick). I put it on my bed and it made a noise and then Pickles the cat spent a good chunk of time rolling it back and forth, seeming to think I’d brought him the greatest new cat toy ever.
We were operating at about the same level of comprehension at this point.
And there you have my Thursday. It was not a good day.
It didn’t go so well, guys. I do have a plan. Things are in progress. But right now, my URL isn’t moving. I’ll let you know when it does. Until then, I’ll be publishing posts both here and at my Blogger site. (You can subscribe over there by clicking this link.) I’ll let you know when this changes. Hopefully it won’t be too long.
An insane thing happened to Alex and me today. INSANE. Well, it happened mostly to Alex, but I was along for the ride. I’m writing this in a lighthearted manner, but it was pretty awful as it was happening. Laugh or cry, right? I will preface this story with the information that no Alexes were harmed in the making of this story and everyone is 100 percent A-okay. That said, let me start from the beginning.
Alex went to see the doctor for a routine travel checkup this week because he is going to the Dominican Republic next month. After that appointment they took his blood because he has a physical coming up. NBD. Last night they left a message on our answering machine asking him to call today for his results.
After leaving for work this morning, Alex texted that apparently he was anemic. Then he texted again to say that the doctor wanted him to go back today and then I heard nothing else. Assuming all was well, I drove in to work (I usually take Metro, but I had something heavy with me today) and was there for about ten or fifteen minutes (maybe) when I got the following text:
“I need to talk to you. Can I call you in a few minutes?”
I should maybe tell you now that Alex and I don’t talk on the phone. We almost entirely communicate through texts, sometimes even when we’re in the same building. This seemed ominous.
His follow up to my asking if he was okay was:
“Dr. XXX needs me to go to the emergency room for some tests. Will you go with me?”
Well. That seems even more ominous.
I set out for the hospital and asked if I could call him from my car, but he was unavailable because HE STOPPED TO GO TO A MEETING BEFORE GOING TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM. Once he got out of the meeting he called to let me know that the doctor wanted him to go to the emergency room because his blood test results were bad in that every one of the counts you want to be high was low. And his platelet count, which should be 150,000 to 450,000 was three.
We named them later: Hildegarde, Barry, and Red.
It turns out that the count was actually 3,000, but that’s still not good. And it presents a less satisfying image than the one I was imagining in which his three platelets were huddled together, looking around worriedly, and asking, “Where’d everybody go?”
I got to the ER first because I had no meetings to attend. Once Alex got there, I tried to keep him entertained and told him it could be nothing—maybe they mixed up blood samples and some really sick guy had Alex’s good results. Maybe he had thrombosis that is, according to my fifteen seconds of web research, sometimes treatable with medication. I very specifically didn’t mention leukemia.
Alex, whose doctor on the phone that morning had told him that he needed to “reorient your thinking,” was also pointedly not mentioning leukemia. Although when I sat in a chair across from him instead of next to him, he did remark, “I see. You don’t want to sit next to your dying husband.” We are the worst kind of people.
They took us into triage, where they tried and failed to get Alex’s blood, which wasn’t a good sign. Then they took us to a double room where they gave Alex a hospital gown. Alex, ever compliant, put it on OVER as much of his clothing as possible and sat down in the bed.
Shortly thereafter, a nurse came by and stood in the doorway. “I’m not coming in because I don’t have a mask on,” he said. ” But we’re going to move you to a more isolated room because of the situation.”
Their thinking was obviously that Alex was severely immuno-compromised and should not be around other people. Alex looked like he was going to FREAK OUT. I internally freaked out by starting to plan his funeral and speculating about whether I’d be able to donate his organs. Because I’m not a monster, I didn’t say any of this out loud.
Seriously. WHAT WAS THE FUCKING SITUATION?!
They wanted to try again to get more blood to retest Alex’s counts, so they sent in a tech who worked diligently and with vigor on getting a sample out of first this arm and then that arm as Alex, the dingbat, tried to write a work email with the other hand. I have seen that man do work from his phone in some very inappropriate places, but I think this one took the cake.
I took this photo with his permission AFTER we knew everything was okay. Again: NOT a monster.
The lab tech was successful in getting Alex’s blood right when the doctor came in to ask a bunch of questions and tell him about the plan. I had a notebook and pen ready because I was going to be Alex’s Advocate and take records and otherwise do everything right, but I didn’t because I left it in my purse and I only remember the doctor saying that they were going to admit Alex overnight and go from there.
Shortly thereafter, more techs wheeled a portable x-ray machine into the room to do a chest x-ray. We live in a miraculous age.
After this, it was waiting time. I pulled my chair next to the hospital bed, took away Alex’s phone, and we waited for whatever was to come next.
What came next was that the doctor eventually came back in to tell Alex that they had the results from the CBC and his counts were entirely normal. I said loudly and inappropriately, “Fuck yes!” as Alex started to repeatedly ask if the doctor was making a joke.
Confidential to Alex: I don’t think doctors are allowed to joke like that—”It turns out that everything is fine. You’re totally healthy!…Just kidding! You will likely die this week.”
Alex literally asked the doctor three times if he was serious. Turns out he was. Then the doctor said, “Maybe the blood samples got mixed up and someone else out there got your results,” which, if you remember from three hours and thirteen paragraphs ago, I HAD ALREADY SAID.
It’s almost like I’m a doctor myself.
We still had to wait for more results, so the doctor left and we finally said leukemia, in the “thank God you don’t have leukemia” sense and generally reinforced how happy we both were that our lives hadn’t changed irrevocably that day.
Our nurse came back in to check Alex’s chest with a stethoscope, but he hadn’t heard the good news that it was probably a lab mistake, so we told him that. He very solemnly lowered his mask, said “probably,” and re-raised it. Alex and I were all, what the fuck?
But then he took off the mask and told us that this happens regularly, blah, blah, blah. Alex joked that some elderly and very, very sick man was all, “I’m totally healthy; I have the blood of a 40-year-old!” and the guy’s face got serious and he said, “You should probably follow up with your doctor about that.”
Half an hour and a sheaf of forms later, we were enthusiastically and with much relief out of there. We went to lunch and Alex drove back in to work.
Life is weird, isn’t it? This story could have ended up much differently. Now, a few hours removed, it feels like I made it up. It was exhausting to go through it for just half a day. But people get sick all the time. One day someone is fine, then there’s a bad test, and then everything changes. It’s awful and it’s unfair and I am so very grateful that it wasn’t us this time.
Driving in to the parking garage that morning at a hospital I had never been to, I wondered if this was the first of many trips here. I wondered if I was going to become a regular at this place. I wondered of what this was the first day.
Life is precarious. Every day is a gift. I’m glad that we have at least one more.
I have been writing this blog since 2007. Originally, I hosted it on Blogger. Then I moved it to a self-hosted WordPress site because that was all the rage. Now that I write far less often, I’m interested in a free platform, which is why I’m returning to Blogger. Don’t even ask me how much I wish I had just stayed there.
Answer: a lot.
So. I don’t have any idea how many of y’all still read here. And of you readers, I don’t know how many of you subscribe via email or via reader. Any of you who are subscribed will likely have to resubscribe at the new site.
I will be publishing this post and then I will be redirecting my URL back to blogspot. So, if you are reading this and are interested in making sure you continue to get my oh-so-stellar content, look in the right sidebar and enter your email if you want posts emailed to you or click the button that says “subscribe in a reader” (for reader or email).
Caveat: I don’t know if older posts will get sent to subscribers as I add them back to the website. I suspect not because they will be backdated, but I am just warning you that this a thing that might happen.
I intend to eventually make sure all of my content is in one place over on Blogger, but until then, you might not be able to find it all. Also, I’m sure that Google searching for said content will be unreliable due to my content being all over tarnation and whatnot.
For now, you will be able to see all 2018 posts at Stimeyland and hopefully the older ones will eventually show up.
Wish me luck, guys. I am sure that I will regret this about ten minutes after I do it, but I want to be in a situation where I don’t have to pay for hosting every month if I’m not blogging. (Note: I am not giving up blogging. I just know that eventually I will and I want to prepare now when I still have enough energy to care.)
I’ve been kinda avoiding writing until I get this done, so I’m pushing the button, jumping off the board, hurling myself out of the plane! I pretty much always fuck up even the simplest blog tech stuff, so stay tuned for the disaster story. Wish me luck!
This has been the Year of the Run for me—well, also the year of a lot of other bullshit too, but let’s not focus on that. So, yeah, let’s go ahead and call it the Year of the Run.
I averaged just under a hundred miles per month, which seems like not a lot considering I feel like I was running ALL THE TIME, but I guess if you run slow, like I do, you can run a lot and still not cover an enormous amount of distance.
My grand total of miles run in 2017 was 1,197.90 miles. I ran for 245-1/2 hours. I ran 217 times. I burned more than 187,000 calories.
Not so shabby.
I am also ending my year with a Thanksgiving to New Year’s running streak, meaning I have run every day over the past 39 days and will run a race tomorrow. When I’ve done this in the past, I’ve made my daily minimum one mile, but this year I decided to run at least a 5K every day, which I am happy to say I did. Most days I ran exactly 5K, but streaks don’t offer extra points for going the extra mile. (Literally.)
This year is also the year of my first marathon. Since they are so arduous, I decided to do two of them: Houston in January and the Marine Corps Marathon in October. I also ran three half marathons, including a half marathon PR in September. Add in eleven other races with distances ranging from 5K to 20 miles, and I had a pretty full calendar.
In a fun twist, Alex also had a Year of the Run. He ran his first ever races this year and I am disgruntled as hell to tell you that he has now officially surpassed me as the better runner in the family. He ran five races this year, each one a different length, which I think is kind of impressive. (5K, 5 miles, 10 miles, 10K, and 15K) He’s signed up for his first half marathon in March, although he has a pretty hefty work schedule between now and then, so I’ll be double impressed if he pulls it off.
I’ll be double impressed and bitter if he pulls it off in way better form than me. (I’m running it too.)
I feel great about what I have accomplished this year, especially in terms of endurance, but wasn’t quite sure where to go after this. I know that I want to work on speed and weight loss, which will lead to my being able to kick the shit out of a marathon in a couple of years. But I am also a person who does well with goals and projects, so I’ve been scheming on what to do while I’m working on speed and fitness. I have a plan, but I’m not quite ready to put it out there yet. Soon, my pretties. Soon.
In addition to all my running plans, I continue to believe that I will increase the frequency of my blogging. That said, I’m a realist and I am going to be moving from my self-hosted to a free platform soon, so I don’t have to pay every month just to keep my content up. If you’re a subscriber, it is possible that this will affect my feeds and the delivery of my content to your inbox. I’ll keep you updated here and on Facebook, but if you don’t hear from me for a long time, check in to see if I’ve moved.
I have wanted a new tattoo for a long time. I’ve had ideas for different elements of it dating back for years, but the idea coalesced only in the last couple of years. I have a rule that I have to want a specific tattoo for a year before I am allowed to get it. This prevents me from listening to my impulsive mind and then cursing Past Jean in three months when I no longer think a rash tattoo decision was a good idea.
You know how Past Jean makes rash decisions. It’s a known thing.
Anyway, I finally had my idea and then it turns out that when I contacted tattoo artists back in April, no one could get me in until October when I had my consultation and then finally last Thursday when Fernando at British Ink gave me my tattoo.
I love it so much. Soooo much. It’s really pretty. AND he spelled every word correctly.
That pink splotch on the floor is from when Fernando spilled hot pink ink all over himself and his stuff just prior to inking me. I gave him the benefit of the doubt regarding his motor skills because I’m also clumsy but good at my job.
This tattoo is crammed full of symbolism and significance and I am about to tell you all about it, so read on if you’re interested and know that if you’re not interested and stop reading here, you won’t miss all that much.
The song lyric there is from Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue.” I love that song and I love that lyric, which, in its entirety, is, “The only thing I knew how to do was to keep on keepin’ on like a bird that flew.” (Hence the bird.) I think that keepin’ on is a nice encouragement to have on my arm where I can see it whenever I want to. I’m very pleased with the first words I’ve chosen to put on my person.
I knew that I wanted a bird, but i had to decide what bird. I considered a hummingbird, but apparently hummingbirds are kinda assholes and no matter how fitting that might seem and how pretty they are, I decided against them. I ended up looking for symbolism in birds and found that the chickadee has some nice symbolism, at least according to this one obscure website I found.
Plus they’re super cute and fluffy.
I especially like the part about being happy in the self, which is what I was going for with my design. Which leads me to why I chose a negative space bird instead of having Fernando actually ink the bird. That space represents a Stimey-shaped space for me in the world. That was inspired by Tom Petty’s song “You Don’t Know How it Feels,” in which he sings, “Think of me what you will, I’ve got a little space to fill.”
Plus I found this great shot of a chickadee that was perfect for my purposes.
I especially love the feet.
I knew that I wanted to get three birds to represent my three kids. They are not negative space because I wanted to show that they are like me, but they are their own people. I knew I wanted Alex in there too, but wasn’t sure how to do it. I asked Fernando and after I told him a little bit about Alex, especially his love of music and concerts, he suggested the music notes. Perfect!
The colors are because they are pretty and also because they include colors from all over the spectrum, which has all kinds of happy connotations.
If you’re not into symbolism, it’s also just a pretty bird. So it has that going for it.
The tattoo is currently wrapped in some sort of plastic until Monday, so it’s not at its best. I’m looking forward to unwrapping and washing it.
The plastic draws up the ink a little so it looks blurry. It’s kind of a fun effect.
It is always a little scary to get a new tattoo. No matter how much you have thought about it, it’s a big deal, especially when it is someplace so visible. Also, since I haven’t gotten a tattoo for 20 years, I was worried that I might have wussified in the intervening years and not be able to handle the needles. Turns out I’m just as tough now as I was then. Yay, me!
I couldn’t be happier with my result. Fernando really listened to me and worked hard to make sure I got what I wanted. He was really nice too. I wholeheartedly recommend him.
I’m also starting the clock for my next tattoo. I’ll tell you all about it in a year (or two or three).
or, if you want to be dramatic about the whole thing: Stimey Versus the Marathon.
(Hat tip to Joe Versus the Volcano) Do you see that little tag hanging off of my race bib? It was my “free beer at the finish line” coupon. I knew I didn’t want a free beer, but I left it there juuuuuuust in case I changed my mind. It mildly bothered me for 26.2 miles. I didn’t want a free beer at the finish line. I knew I didn’t want a free beer at the finish line. I should have ripped it off at the start line.
Hey guys! I ran myself a marathon a couple weeks ago! I gotta tell you, I really did learn some things about marathons during this race. I also learned some things about myself. And I learned some things about marathons as they relate to myself. It was quite a mental journey.
If I had a bucket list, the Marine Corps Marathon would have been on it. My dad and my uncle were both marines and I have a fondness for that military branch. Plus, it’s a big, local marathon that takes runners sightseeing all over DC. I have wanted to run this race for a long time, so after I ran the Houston Marathon and was looking to do another one, hopefully faster and better, MCM was a natural choice. What could possibly go wrong?
My hope and goal going into this marathon was to not have to take walk breaks (other than through water stops, because I ALWAYS walk through water stops) and to hopefully finish it faster than I finished Houston.
Neither of those things happened. And I’m okay with that. I finished in 6:14:53 and I took a lot of walk breaks. Frankly, after about mile 15, I shuffled through the last 11 miles, either at a walk or a slow run. One of the things I learned about myself is that I am a person who, at this point in my running career, cannot run a marathon without taking walk breaks and that is GREAT. Because I have finished two marathons and I feel pretty darn good about that.
Let me start at the beginning.
Even getting to the start of the marathon was an ordeal. The Metro opened at 6am and I was on a train at 6:05. Trouble started when I and 80 gajillion of my closest friends got off the train at the Pentagon and tried to get up the escalators from the train platform. It took at least 15 minutes to do that, and the lines continued from there.
By the time I got to the pre-race runners’ village, it was well after 7 and every line for the porta potties was long enough to make me late to the start line. I had read the race booklet though, because I’m a nerd like that, and it said there were “150 lesser used” porta potties on the road where they start the race. I crossed my fingers and continued up the road, hoping they weren’t lying to me. Happily, the race booklet was right and I only had to wait behind about five people. I was very pleased with myself and also very relieved that I didn’t have to run a marathon with, like, 40 ounces of liquid sloshing around my insides.
I wormed my way up to the start line by 7:40, a full 15 minutes before the race was supposed to start. It was not a stress free or relaxing start to my day. But at least I wasn’t sweaty yet. Much.
Look how dry and non-crampy I look.
There are three time cutoffs in the MCM (mile 17 at about 4-1/2 hours, mile 20 at 5-1/4 hours, and mile 22 at 5-3/4 hours). I was pretty sure that, barring disaster, I would make these cutoffs pretty easily. I was, however, worried that it would take me half an hour to get over the start line because I was in the back of the pack and that time would get me DNFed. Happily, things went smoothly, and even though they started the race ten minutes late, I was over the start in just a few minutes.
After I crossed the start line, I ran for six and a quarter hours and then I finished. The end.
But there’s some truth to that. I spent a lot of time in my head during this race. My only constant was continued forward motion—except for that time I dropped my Clif Bloks and had to run backwards to pick them up. Otherwise, it was one foot in front of the other over and over and over.
This will sound obvious to all of you, but it hit me hard at about mile ten: Marathons are long. I felt tired pretty early on, but I’ve run tired before. It was fun to run down into Hains Point because that was the location of my first 10K almost exactly four years ago. Hains Point is also the location of the wear blue mile honoring fallen service members, which is really quite an amazing thing. I have never run a mile in a race where it was so quiet.
After all of that, you get to the halfway mark, which is great because then at that point you’re all in because it’s too late to turn around and walk back. (<—joke) Actually what the halfway mark means is that then you have to do what you’ve just done…again. But! Every step after the halfway mark is taken on the down side of the mileage.
Well. It made sense to me. There are all kinds of mind games I play with myself on long runs.
I ran for something like 16 years to get off of the peninsula. I knew that the national mall section was coming up and I was looking forward to that, but I forgot the two-something additional miles down and back Independence Avenue before that. I’m pretty sure there were monuments and views to look at, but I didn’t see any of that. (See: “I spent a lot of time in my head.”) I think it was in this area that I took my first walk break.
After that, I ran up and down the shaft of the race. (see map)
See it up there to the left of the Capitol?
The shaft portion was tough. I had expected to be a little more excited about running around the mall and past the Capitol, but mostly I was just tired and parts of my body were trying to cramp up, which is not something I usually experience. I stopped to stretch a few times, but I would, like, stretch my hamstring and my quad would seize up. At one point later in the race, I was moving from a walk to a run and my ankle tried to cramp. My ANKLE. I didn’t even know that could happen.
None of that is evident from this oddly cheerful photo though.
I mean, except you can tell I’m going, like, 4MPH because even though I’m running, both of my feet are aaaaaaalmost on the ground.
Mile 20 is where you “Beat the Bridge,” meaning you cross over the 14th Street Bridge before the cutoff. People were very pleased to have made it.
A woman right behind me stopped suddenly with a cry of pain and I turned around and asked her if she was okay and she gave me this quizzical look and I was all, “I mean, you know,” and gestured at the road indicating the base level of suffering I was hoping she hadn’t crossed. This woman had zero words she could formulate about her state of being, but she nodded, so I carried on.
It was right around here that I determined that because I wasn’t going to win any land-speed records—or even Jean-speed records—that I was going to be cheerful and make jokes and generally try to have a good time for the rest of the race and not worry about my time at all. I figured I could kill myself trying to shave 15 minutes off of my time or I could enjoy myself—you know, to the extent that you can enjoy the last 10K of a marathon.
I was taking significant walk breaks by this time and I was not alone. It seemed like most people were doing the same. The last cutoff point was at mile 22. After that, I heard some people who were all, “Now we can walk the rest of the way. We did it!” Frankly, by the end of the race back at my end, many people didn’t seem to be doing any running at all, which was gratifying because I got to pass them. You know, verrrrryy slooooowly.
The bridge and subsequent descent into Crystal City was kinda brutal. It was HOT by this time and there was no shade. A marine was encouraging us by claiming that there was shade and water up ahead. He was right, and even better than that, there was also a fire hose spraying water into the air that we could run through. That was fantastic. There were maybe three or four of those in the next few miles, but one of them was on the far outside of a corner instead of the inside and after much internal debate I decided that I didn’t want to run the extra 20 feet, so I skipped it. I ran through the rest of them though.
Crystal City really pulled it out for us. Some lady gave me a handful of ice and at first I was all, “I really only need one of these, what am I going to do with the rest?” and then I discovered that each ice cube actually had four uses: (1) keeping my hand cool, (2) keeping my forehead cool when I wiped it with the ice cube, (3) cooling off the inside of me when I put it in my mouth, and (4) making me less thirsty. I realized at this point that I had lost all sense of personal hygiene (yes, I’ll wipe that on my body then eat it) and also, damn, I had been really hot. That ice pepped me up enough that I ran at a reasonable pace for a decent chunk of time.
A kid gave me a tiny cup of ice cubes later on and when I still had some ice in there, a different woman filled it with water and I had maybe two swallows of ice water at mile 23 and it was DIVINE.
After that, it was just a matter of slugging it out to the end along a long, hot road.
I think you can start to really see my sunburn here. I didn’t feel it until hours later. I had other pains to deal with.
I amused myself by making little quips to other runners. (“Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch,” I told one woman I passed. “All the things on me hurt,” I said to a cheering bystander as I gestured at myself from head to toe. “If my watch says 26.2, does that mean I can stop?” I asked another, who told me her watch said the same thing. And so on.) There were others who were doing the same, and I found it very endearing.
The last quarter of a mile or so involves a left turn up a hill and then a flat tenth of a mile or so through the finish line. I didn’t sprint the hill or anything, but I have never felt a hill less. At this point, there was nothing that could put me through more exertion. Plus, I knew once I hit the finish line, I could stop running.
That medic wasn’t there for me. I swear it.
There was a long line of marines standing in a line after the finish line giving high fives and handshakes to finishers. It was really cool. Although I think part of their purpose was to distract us from the long walk we had to make to the finish festival.
Before we left the finish area, there were marines giving out medals. But they weren’t just handing them to finishers. The woman who gave me mine put it over my head and then saluted me. It was quite a moment. A marine…saluting me. I felt pretty honored.
Alex met me at the finish to drive me home, thank God, because I can’t even imagine standing in the line to catch a bus back to a metro station and then sitting on a train with all my sweatiest buddies. I ran 26.2 (or 26.73 according to my Garmin, but who’s quibbling?) miles, but Alex drove me home and he’s kind of a hero for that. He did make me walk up a hill to get to the car and he did walk faster than me, forcing me to hobble to keep up with him, but that’s okay. Also, like, three body parts seized up on me when I got into the car and I had to contort into a plank position in the seat to work all the cramps out.
And that was the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon. It was a journey, both literal and metaphorical. Like, I said, I learned that it’s okay for me to walk during a marathon and I don’t feel the slightest bit bad about it. I also learned that if you ever ask me how a marathon is, I will answer you by saying “hard.” Always and forever. Marathons are no goddamn joke. Another lesson was to get out of my head and focus on the experience, something I intended to do going into the race, but only managed to do for some of the miles.
Another very important thing I learned is that my body did the absolute best it could do at this distance. I realize that at my body weight and fitness level, I am not going to be running any speedier marathons any time soon. I think I might work on those things for a while and then maybe run another marathon in two or three years. I’m not saying never again, but I also know that two marathon training cycles basically on top of each other kinda wrecked me and I need to put in some serious work on myself before attempting it again.
Lastly, I learned that it is a good idea to buy a sweatshirt with an ostentatious marathon logo on it for two reasons. First, because if you spend a million dollars on a hoodie at the expo, you will finish the goddamn race so you can legitimately wear the thing.
Also I learned how hard it is to take a mirror photo of your own back.
And, second, because if you wear it, people ask you if you ran a marathon. And you get to say yes. And they don’t care that it took you more than six hours. And you don’t really care either. And everyone feels good about the accomplishment that you achieved. No one more than you.