Thursday, October 29, 2015

My first marathon

I am sure you have all heard about it by now. I officially ran my first marathon on Oct. 18, 2015. This was a goal I had for a really long time, dating all the way back to when I was at the peak of my running career in college. My goal was to run my first marathon by the time I was 30. Well, as fate would have it I ran my first 26.2 miles just 10 days after turning 29. Mission accomplished, you could say.
Angie and I at the start

Except this mission would not have started or been accomplished without the help of one very special woman: Angie Keiser.
You see, I let my goal escape me. Life buried me, put my running on interuptus one too many times. Until I met Angie. She was running to beat breast cancer and to inspire others with her journey. She inspired me to sign up to run with her.
I joked that we were going to be the two most poorly trained people in the race...and I do not think I was far off. We had both run no more than 6 miles at once in training. Both of our training schedules were disrupted. Hers by her cancer treatments, mine by work.
In a way that probably worked for us. We were equally horribly trained but on the same page enough that we were able to stick together for the entire race.
I was stupidly optimistic going in, doubtful less than halfway in, and relieved when we finally finished.
Halfway done! Super smiley!
For those of you who have known me for a while, you might remember that I experienced pain from hip flexor flare-ups during my college running career. Yeah...that came back...around mile 9. Suffice it to say that miles 9 through 18 were just absolutely terrible...every step was painful, every step caused pulling of that muscle.
During the first 5 miles of the race I remember thinking “this is not bad, just keep going.” By mile 15, I was thinking, “you go girl, this is the farthest you have ever run!” But the pain was also with me, and I remember thinking there was NO WAY I was going to last another 11.2 miles.
But Angie was next to me. I knew she was hurting too, and gosh darn it I had signed up to be her cheerleader! Cheerleaders do not quit, they are in it for the long haul! Sure, most cheerleaders just have to run up and down the field and do some flips and cheering, they never run 26.2 miles in their effort to applaud and inspire...but I always have been a bit of a dreamer and over-achiever. I like to set the bar high.
Only 6.2 miles to go!
So I continued on. Around mile 18 my muscle either loosened up a bit or went numb. I would guess the latter. Either way, the end result was the pain had lessened to the point that I thought I might actually be able to last another 8.2 miles.
Around mile 20 I saw my parents. I so needed that, I needed to know they were there to cheer me on. My mom had a sign that said, “That tutu makes your butt look great!” Oh, did I not mention I ran the whole way in a purple tutu? Well, I am a cheerleader...
Perhaps my favorite sign though was the one that said, “Run fast! Dad just farted!” I think I am going to have that one framed.
There were a lot of doubts on that course. I honest to Zeus never thought I was going to make it, but like I told my Dad when he asked what was going to keep me going, “My stubbornness. I have quite a bit of it.”
“You are just like your mother,” he told me after I finished. “When you decide you are going to do something, you find a way.”
I knew this tutu looked great!
The truth is, none of this would have been possible without Angie. I never would have signed up. I probably would never have made it to the half without her. I definitely would have dropped out around mile 15, when the pain was at its peak and every step was agony. She is the one who kept me going. The truth is, this story, this journey has been about her from the very beginning. She may not have known it, but I think she pushed me just as much, if not more, than I pushed her.

There was one time I got in front of her, miles 23.5 to mile 25. The pain was starting to come back. I literally had to keep jogging. I wanted to walk, but jogging hurt the least. I felt terrible pulling in front of her, but I also knew she had friends in Kat Pass and Janae Vogel who were with her. Oh Janae, what spirit! She cheered for us from the sidelines and then ran with us from the 20 mile mark to the end.
I felt bad about leaving Angie behind, but she told me at the end that seeing me going actually did push her.
“You were going just like we were at the start,” she said. Janae and Kat urged her to keep going, to catch up to me. I remember looking back one time and I did not see Angie. Maybe a half mile later I looked back again and there they were.
At the 25 mile mark I dropped back to wait. We started this journey together and gosh darn it, we were going to finish together.
Angie and I finish the Mankato Marathon together!
I will admit, I got very happy and energized in that last 1.2 miles. We were there, we were done, we had come 25 miles and the end was in sight!
The most beautiful vision I ever saw was when we turned that last corner and the black and white checkered FINISH line loomed in front of us. Four blocks, three, two, one...I grabbed Angie’s hand and we crossed together.
This journey, this vision, this goal had finally come to an end.

Bold and beautiful!
But it is not the end.
Angie and I plan to return next year, with some actual training under our belt, and kill our time. It took us 6 hours, 27 minutes to finish. Next year we want to hit 5 hours, 30 minutes.
I have an even bigger goal, one that is probably two years away. With a realistic goal of 2017, I want to share My Bold Story about bullying. I would love to turn the marathon into a fundraiser for bullying awareness. During the next two years I am planning to purchase a weighted vest. I want to train and do runs, first 5Ks and 10Ks, then a half-marathon, while wearing a weighted vest with 20 pounds.
My ultimate goal is to run the Mankato Marathon. The first half of the race I intend to run in normal running clothes. When I cross the 13.1 mile mark, I would like to put on the weighted vest.
That is how bullying works. When it first starts you are strong, you can keep your head high. But as it goes on and continues, it begins to weigh on you, and the pressure pushes down on you. It is hard to relieve that weight. I hope that in two years time I can be a voice for those living in silence and fear.
United we stand, untied we fall...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

My birthday wish: A year of service

Happy 29th birthday to me! I don’t think I really minded leaving my teens behind. If I can be honest, there are some good memories, but also a lot of really painful ones, which many of you now know about.

My 20s, on the other hand, have been pretty amazing. It is hard to believe they are almost at an end. It feels like just yesterday I was graduating college and preparing to start working for the Sun Prairie Star. And yet, more than 5 years have flashed. I am no longer a bright-eyed 23 year old, but a somewhat mature, if goofy 29-year-old.

I was 20 the first time I traveled overseas. What an amazing and educational trip to Greece and Istanbul! In the past nine years I have made it to Greece, Istanbul and Tanzania. Only four more continents to go! I have rappelled down a 13-story building, competed in my first Tough Mudder, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, assisted with disaster relief after Hurricane Sandy, was able to spend a week at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Leonard Wood with our men and women in uniform, discovered the wonders of running road races and obstacle course races in tutus (as well as the inherent danger of snagging it on barbed wire), adopted two wonderful, furry friends, and even did 3/4 of a mile of burpees. It has been a whirlwind adventure, and I look forward to many more!

Praying over the meals...
As some of you know, I recently left the wonderful state of Wisconsin to take a job as the editor of the Jordan Independent. Another huge blessing! I had to leave family and friends behind, but one of the hardest things has been leaving my martial arts family behind. It gets a little lonely, but I am foraging on and making new friends.

I do find myself becoming more and more pessimistic and cynical, and I think a large part is being away from loved ones and away from the service work I was involved with in Wisconsin.

So, it is time to find new work! Which gets me to the point of this post, just 360 words in. I am going to celebrate my 29th year by doing at least 29 good deeds a month. It might be a kind word, compassionate hug, doing a race for my I Run 4 Michael buddy, Nicholas, donating to a charity, volunteering with a charity, or something I have not thought of. But that is my goal. aAnd my goal is already off to a good start. Today I decided to return to Feed My Starving Children in Chanhassen. After a brief introduction, it was off to pack food for children in Haiti.

During my shift, we packed 90 boxes. Each box contains 36 bags of food, and each bag has enough or 6 meals. So for those of you doing the math, that is 19,440 meals, enough to feed 53 CHILDREN FOR A YEAR.

In addition to helping package meals for children in need, I also decided to purchase a box of food. One box, 216 meals, for $50. The saying is true, when you help others, you help yourself. I am planning to make volunteering at Feed My Starving Children a monthly event, perhaps more. It is a great cause and you really can make a huge impact in just a couple of hours.

Until next time...

Food for 180 meals