Monday, September 27, 2010

Marathon Revised

I'm taking a creative writing class and decided to rewrite a previous blog for a creative nonfiction piece that is due today. Its long. Cheers.
Everything about my second marathon was weird. It was June 12th and a chilling 45 degrees with heavy rainfall, thick air, and low clouds. Virtually the exact opposite of the weather I had trained in and expected. A fuel inefficient toxic 1985 event bus carried all the athletes from a mall in south Provo, Utah up to the starting line in Walsburg (up Provo canyon) at an eye aching 3:30 am. A man roughly in his early 40’s sat next to me on the bus ride up. He ate a crusty cheese bagel and drank whole milk. I’m not sure how that whole milk sat in his stomach on the run, but hopefully that turned out okay for him. Despite the bagel crumbs falling out of his mouth while talking, he was a kind man and calmed my nerves by distracting me with some good old fashioned small talk on the tense 45 minutes bus ride. As a contractor, he was forced to sell off his properties when the economy flipped upside down in 2008, leaving him jobless and utterly bankrupt. Running had become therapy for him as he tried to hide the fear in his eyes from his 3 teenage daughters and wife of 19 years. I understood the therapy thing. Running had been therapy for me when my relationship with Danny (my husband) was on the rocks before we got married.
Danny is naturally good at everything he does. He is also an incredibly hard worker when he puts his mind to it. He took 2nd place in his first triathlon last year. The first marathon I did, I got through. My goal was just to finish. Danny inspired me to be competitive in this second marathon. I wanted not only to finish, but to actually do really well. It was kind of like how all my life I had been getting through things—getting through high school, getting through college, getting through the work day, whatever. I was tired of just getting through things. What is the point of just getting through things anyway? I wanted to do well and enjoy myself.
When we arrived at the starting line, there were thousands of runners stretching and warming up. There was a camping smell from a big orange bon fire and lots of bagels and pastries that were soaking in the torrential rain. A male announcer on a microphone was trying to direct people to the starting line, bathrooms, and where to pick up prizes and t-shirts. He was awfully energetic for 3:30 am. I was thankful for my ugly Pepto Bismol colored poncho that Danny made me wear. My fingers were pruney and frozen as I tried to push my way to the back of the colossal crowd that began at the starting line and finished about 100 yards behind it. The thick clouds made the darkness of the early morning even darker. Thousands of contestants chattered with each other and bounced around in preparation for the 26.2 miles to come.
The runners were antsy as the start of the marathon was delayed due to the weather. There was unstoppable pushing from runners in the back of the line which turned into a gigantic mosh pit and made it almost impossible for me to get on the outside of the crowd. The poncho I had once been thankful for suddenly made me intensely claustrophobic.
In the weeks before the marathon, I had really doubted whether I was actually going to go through with it. I knew I hadn’t trained enough. And… this time I knew what to expect. I knew what the marathon would be like. I knew what it would feel like to “hit the wall” and how the bottoms of my feet would ache and the soreness that would ensue for the next few days. Before my first marathon, I had no idea what to expect so I had no fears. Isn’t that something nice about ignorance? It allows us to do things we wouldn’t do if we knew what it was like. Things are always scarier the second time. When I was living in Hawaii, I was walking to school one day. My friend Keri called and announced that I in fact, was not going to class, and that she was on her way with a group of people and we were going sky diving. It was exhilarating riding the airplane up, asking myself “why on earth are you about to jump out of a plane??” and then jumping out and bombing through the sky like a hawk after its prey. Would I do it again? No. Well… probably. But it would definitely be way scarier knowing exactly how it feels to skydive and knowing more about all the things that could go wrong (i.e. hole in parachute, parachute not opening, having stupid instructor, not opening parachute at the right time, hitting the ground too hard and breaking legs, etc).
I managed to muscle my way through the mob to the outskirts of the starting line. If there was one thing I knew, it was better to wait to begin the race than to try to run around clumsy people all jammed together.
           The gun shot sounded and the tangled runners were on their way. I chuckled as the excited competitors tripped over each other. I waited until the masses had cleared out before I crossed the starting line and the timer on my time chip began ticking away heavily at me, reminding me of my pace. The beautiful canyon provided lush greenery, a lake, and a river to distract me from over focusing on my running. Oh.. not to mention the pounding rain that made it slippery causing me to concentrate more on not falling than worrying about what speed I was running. But it really was beautiful and I accomplished the first 5k in a self best time of 19 min 30 seconds. Even then, I don't think I really committed to the marathon until about mile 17 of the actual race.
          At mile 14, an excruciating crazy pain in my upper tail bone began shooting way up my back. It felt like someone was grabbing my lower spine with tweezers, twisting it, and trying to pull it through the middle of my back.  Have you ever played the game Operation? You stick these metal tongs into this open body and if you accidentally touch anything besides the organs (or whatever you are trying to pull out) the game buzzes at you. I probably felt like how the poor Operation man feels when he gets buzzed. I honestly wanted to die. And there was no relief. Walking did not help. It was legitimately the most intense pain I have experienced and I didn’t know what to do about it. Do I stop the race? My hand wiped my face and I realized I had been crying. I continued running and pathetically crying for 3 miles until I came to an aide station at mile 17 where I sat and bawled my eyes out like the big sissy I am. I was sure I couldn’t finish. I was in serious pain. I was frustrated and I was furious. I had spent the past 16 weeks training for nothing? I am this weak?
         In between these thoughts, I quit feeling sorry for myself and got up and started running. It was time to get to work. I hadn’t come this far to be defeated. My back pain was a little less noticeable because I had abruptly stopped running and sat down… the rest of my body had basically cramped up. My hips and legs were pretty tight and I still had 9.2 more miles to run. So that wasn't ideal. I decided to just try to make it to mile 18 and see how I felt at that point. Danny and some friends were at 18 cheering me on. Their energy propelled me forward. Though still in pain at 18, I pushed for 19. At 20, I had already run 20 miles, so 6 more didn’t seem like too much. Over and over I kept telling myself I could do it. I could make it. In a little while it would all be over. It would be worth the pain in the end. Also I was wondering why on earth I enjoy torturing myself.
          At 22 my body was simply done. My back was throbbing and my hips were on fire. But besides that, everything else was numb. My legs were like led, heavy and hard to move. I just wanted the whole thing to be over so bad. I really didn’t believe that I could run 4.2 more miles. I had to keep saying to myself, “keep going forward. Don’t stop now.” I never knew how good of a cheerleader I could be for myself. There was a crippling incline on a bridge during the last mile of the race. That seemed cruel. And highly unfortunate. Someone definitely could have planned that out better. I cried out of pain and thrust myself forward and upward on the incline. Of course there was no way I could quit now when I could see the finish line ahead. I didn’t think I could possibly make my body go forward anymore.
         A man had been running near me throughout the race. He continued to wear a Big Bird colored yellow poncho even though the rain had ended quite a while ago. He hawked some major loogies several times that day—luckily I cleared myself of his path. I was astounded at the capacity of his loogie hawking ability seeing as how the volume on my Ipod was considerably turned up as loud as it could go. The guys pace was insane. He would run past me, slow down, I would pass him, he would cough up snot from the back of his throat, pass me again, and that was the pattern for a good 15 miles. Curse my led legs for not being able to go any faster. About 50 yards away from the finish line, something inside me just snapped. I’d had enough loogie man interaction. I’d had enough back pain. I was tired of running! Without even thinking, my legs started sprinting. I don't know how they did it. I was in so much pain and yet numb enough to start sprinting. The finish line was so close. I finally lost the loogie man. I knew my legs wouldn’t last much longer. The last minute and a half of the marathon felt like a lifetime. With the finish line in sight, I heard the roaring crowd and acknowledged the presence of friends and family there rooting for me. I knew my body had literally given all that it could in that performance. My face scrunched up as if to cry, but was too dehydrated.  So I mostly just had a wrinkled up face with lots of salt on it that looks funny in all my pictures. As I crossed the finish line, my legs collapsed out from underneath me and I fell into the arms of a nice old man who carried me to the medical tent. The crowd continued to cheer. Everyone loves an emotional ending.  I was trapped on a bed in the medical tent while the marathon staff harassed me with question after question on how I was feeling and what was wrong and could I move certain parts of my body. I just wanted to get up and be able to talk with my friends and family. I mumbled a few answers and touched my face and realized it was soaked with snot, tears, and salt. I was embarrassed and had nothing to wipe it with. After the staff finished stretching me out, feeding me, and making me choke down some nasty electrolyte drink, I was able to get up. It was still difficult to stand, but I was definitely able to.
          Crossing the finish line made me remember why I love torturing myself. I cannot explain just how high a runner’s high is after a race like that. All the physical and mental pain that was relentless throughout the race seemed small as I leapt across the finish line and landed in that poor old man’s arms. I had given literally everything inside me. I knew I could not have pushed myself an ounce harder. Nothing is more rewarding than that. Danny literally had to pick me up to put me inside our giant black jeep because I could not lift my legs on the way home. The race taught me one of the greatest lessons; to really put my whole heart in the things I do and always give my best.
By the way, I beat my previous marathon time by 28 minutes and 13 seconds.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Best Day in History

9/14/1984 aka the day my favorite person was born:

He's just the greatest. And he's 26!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Snatchin Yo People Up

Last night was a night just like any other. We came home from school around 8, whipped up some dinner, kicked off the ole shoes. Hung out, you know, that whole bit. We went to bed around midnight. Nothing really out of the ordinary.

Just as I was slipping away into a gorgeous sleep, I was rudely interrupted by a pounding at our front door.

Danny hopped out of bed to answer the door.

"Danny! Don't get it! If it was one of our friends they would have texted or called."
"Yeah I guess thats true..."

It felt like my heart and stomach had switched places. My head was spinning and my hands were shaking. I had approximately one million thoughts all at once. Should I press the panic button on our car key fob? Should we hide under the bed? Should we sneak out of our back window? Should we call the cops?

...[another spine chilling rapping on the door]

Danny peaked out of our bedroom window. He quickly flipped on our bedroom light (so much for slumber) "Danny! Don't!"

His face looked weird... he looked concerned and determined to answer the door. And he was not using his words. What the freak did he just see?

I hobbled out of bed after him. He was going to get killed and I was going to get raped. I just knew it. So I threw on an extra layer of clothes and grabbed our shovel that was located conveniently in the hall way on the way to the door. I wasn't going down without a fight.

To my wonderment, on our small porch, there stood the fuzzy fuzz covered in big bullet proof vests with big cargo pants and all tricked out in black. And as Danny so perfectly put it "They were sure packin heat." And lots of it.

I looked at Danny. "WHAT DID YOU DO?!"

They asked for a lady named Tanya and said that this was suppose to be her address. They asked us a few more questions and then showed us her picture to make sure we didn't recognize her, which we didn't, thankfully. But her picture was scary. She looked like a bad lady. We explained that in the past couple of months that we've lived here, we have had some total weirdos coming to our door, but that we didn't know the people who lived here before us.

Boy, we sure know how to choose places of residence. Our last house we shared with a schizophrenic. We recently found out that in our neighborhood our house is termed "The Kidnaps" because of a kid-napper that lived here. No wonder we got such a good deal.

So, hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husband...