I ran Falmouth again this year. This is the second time I’ve run this one. I don’t run it for the medal because they don’t give medals usually as I learned the hard way last year. Come to find out they give medals at this race every 5 years. This year was the 45th running of this bucket list race so guess what I got! Yep a medal! It’s beautiful and so worth the 7 mile struggle over hills in the heat.
@FalmouthRR is something you do for the experience not the race itself. You know, I stood in a sea of people that you just don’t understand until you do it. 12,800 runners is almost indescribable. and not one incident of violence… Imagine that! Not one fight or argument. Another several thousands of people that lined the ENTIRE 7 mile route. So many people and we all had nothing but love and respect for each other. We smiled, picked each other up, congratulated one another. We were courteous and friendly. We came from all parts of the country: Nigeria, USA, Kenya, Canada and many other places. No one had any racist or supremacist attitudes. No one marched with signs or jeered or drove cars into the crowd. We all just had love and happiness in our hearts. When you see someone get emotional because another runner went down, that’s love for your fellow humans! That is how it should be.
ANYWAY… Today was many things. It was definitely all about the bling and the experience. As those of you who know me well understand, I love me a good medal! The race itself is always a hot one which makes it harder than other races. IT took us 25 or so minutes to actually walk from where we hit the main drag TO the starting line because in this race they do a pulse start which just means we set of in groups of like 50 at a time then they wait a minute and send the next group. It spaces us out and helps keep things moving. Even this small detail is just one of the many things that make this my all time favorite race ever! I wasn’t sure my race would be a good one because of the time of month it was. I’m always slow just before the blessed event so I was expecting it to be hard, but went into it just wanting to have fun at the very least. That I did achieve with no problem whatsoever. I wanted to beat my 1:18:15 time from last year and amazingly I did!!! I finished unofficially at 1:15:51! I believe 100% that that accomplishment is directly attributed to all the core workouts I have been doing. It definitely paid off because the hills were a bitch, especially the one at the very end that made 7.1 miles feel like 13.1. Over the 7 .1 miles I was perpetually stuck in a large group of runners the entire way so it was nearly impossible to run swiftly when you’re crowded in. I was grateful that that I couldn’t “take off” because it forced me to run a better more controlled race. Probably why I finished two minutes faster than last year. The feeling of struggling for 7 hilly hot miles seems to fade away as you give that last and final ounce of energy to push up that last horrible hill. When you crest it you can see the gigantic American flag that is hoisted above the finish line by a crane just a hundred yards below. You somehow find strength as people are cheering and shouting and you see the Jumbotron with the life finish line stream for those waiting for their loved ones to cross. The air is electric with excitement and you run to that beautiful painted word on the street “FINISH” that sits under the banner just above that signals the end of your 7 mile journey marked by a stomp on the timing mat to seal your race time. You can’t explain how it feels, you have to experience it yourself.
The Falmouth Road Race organizers, volunteers & medics are outstanding! They should get their own medal for the perfected work of making this race such a smooth well oiled event! I’m not kidding you, it is so well organized, you don’t have to search for porto o potties because there are literally about a hundred in the waiting area. Medics were visible with clearly marked signs at several points along the way ready to help those who needed it,. The police rode bikes along the route to ensure things moved along nicely. The people of Falmouth and friends / family of runners literally just line the streets cheering for you, soaking you with their hoses, giving you oranges and ice and 5 bands set up along the route and played music for us as we passed. There weren’t just a few… there were people that in some places were several rows deep just watching us come through. Some gave high fives (the little kids are my favorites to high five. They are wonderful cheerers!) Many blasted the radio, some had cow bells and others had horns. There were so many this year, more than last I thought. Any time I thought I might do some walking beyond just stopping for water I just couldn’t do it because the excitement of being there was compelling. I just cannot say enough good things about this wonderful race.
When you use the word Chaos mostly you think of confusion and craziness that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The gathering spot after the race can only be described as chaos. I’ve never seen or experienced organized chaos until I ran Falmouth. So many people all in the same spot but it’s oddly and strangely organized. From the pick up letters at the back of the field where families go to meet runners to the guys handing out the Yasso bars @eatyasso by the way, is by far the best at the end of a hard race! The band and the tent volunteers handing out post race goodies somehow swiftly corral all those people through with no waiting line. The whole race was start to finish amazing and something that you should do if you want to see how a good race is run. I can’t wait for next year!!
One of my favorite parts of my experience lies outside the race itself. I run this race with my friend Barbara and we stay with our friends Gary and Gail who live in Falmouth. Staying with friends who give you a ride to the busses and fight the crowd to pick you up from the finish line, who feed you and give you a place to lay your head for free absolutely makes the experience just that much better. Running this race with my friend, even though we don’t run together, is the BEST! knowing that I’m sharing something amazing with her is special. Taking selfies and pictures throughout our days there are memories that I cherish. Having someone to share what will become a tall tale that I tell my grandchildren later in life is one of those things that money can’t buy! I really love my running friend(s). This part of the experience and not having to worry about crowded restaurants, overbooked hotels, driving to the start or finding parking or worrying about my belongings while I’m racing turns what could be a crazy stressful weekend into a wonderful weekend of memories instead!
There’s just something peaceful about morning running. Maybe it’s the quiet of the day or the darkness that hasn’t quite conceded to the bright glow of the majestic day ahead. There are not many cars around nor other runners where I am or even people walking dogs. It’s just quiet almost to the point that I can hear my thoughts out loud. I love that first breath in of fresh crisp air that purges my lungs of night air and fills my soul with brightness. It calls me to it, envelops me and makes me its own for 30 minutes of bliss. I can see the glow of a dawning day in the windows of my neighbors and see those who have started their day. I can smell those ambitious enough to cook something that appeals to my palette as I run on an empty stomach thinking about the pancakes and eggs I’ll make when I return. As dawn lights my way, revealing my form I realize this is the best run that I’ve had in many days. I enjoyed it a lot and am happy I didn’t wait until tonight to go. When I run in the morning I have no worries, no problems, no distractions. My phone isn’t ringing, I’m not tied to the internet and I’m not trying to organize anything. It’s just me, in the dark blending in with what remains of the night. Free as a bird and not weighted down by life at this very moment.
Today as I make my way through my neighborhood wondering who knows I’m passing by, my mind is on my race on Sunday. I’m running The Falmouth Road Race and thinking about how the race will go and whether it will be my race. It may not be. Because of the time of the month it may have to just be fun. I’m not expecting it to be a stellar race because I just don’t do well a few days before I get my period. 2-4 days prior, my legs are heavy, it’s hard for me to breathe and it’s just a struggle. Even if it’s a struggle, I’d like to beat last years 1:18. I’m much stronger this year in my core than last year which will be helpful. Nonetheless, if I go into it not expecting too much and not trying to be faster than last year I think it will be fine. Slow it down and I’ll have more fun. My friend who runs this race with me might like company for the entire 7 miles rather than being dumped at the starting line like I usually do. I well know how not fun running alone is so that might be the way to go I think. It’s all about the fun and the experience.
So there are things along this journey to being fitter that are kind of like milestones for me. One is pulling on clothes that I like in a size that makes me smile. Another is when your friends or co-workers tell you that you look good which is always nice. One of my favorite all time motivational smile-infusing happiness-creating things that have happened to me is when my kids tell me nice things without trying to make me feel good. Let me explain what I mean by that.
I know that I look good. Good compared to my old self and the healthiest that I’ve ever been. Good is relative I realize because I understand that I am not shaped like Barbie or the tall and skinnies of the world and that is just fine with me. I am happy with the 161 average weight that I seem to hover over these days because I’m muscular and in fact also shorter at 5′ 4″ tall. This means that I tend to grow out instead of up or evenly distributing my ever fluctuating weight because that’s the law of physics. I will never be Jessica Rabbit or have Heidi Klum’s legs sadly. I’m me and I know my boundaries and I’m fine with them. My job is managing all of that within the confines of the fitness routine I put in and keeping it all in check to stay between 150-165 roughly. I am always striving to get to the bottom of that range but truthfully I don’t care if I never see the big one-five-oh again. I work out and I work out pretty regularly, by choice and sometimes twice a day. It’s a little bit of an addiction and definitely a habit for sure. Something I’m just always working on like Mr. Holland’s Opus, just not ever done. I want to live to the crazy age of 96 so this is a good path to help me get there.
Now nothing and I mean nothing means more to me in this world than my kids. It is super important that they are proud of me and want to be with me and talk to me and hug me and hopefully always like my kisses! I hope they always tell me about their days be it good or crappy. I would die if I couldn’t be with and around them. They are just awesome! So, in the flow of two conversations recently, one with each son (19 and 17 respectively), we were discussing super skinny something or other and I said to one son that if whatever the statement were, was true I’d be super skinny. His answer melted me to pause my thought and compose my fast melting self. He said “You are super skinny Mom.” and he kept moving on with his thoughts about whatever it was that we were talking about. He wasn’t looking for accolades or a hug or even a response. It was his honest opinion. PAUSE: my son thinks I’m super skinny! woo hoo! On another day not long thereafter I was talking to the other son about something weight related (not necessarily mine) and whatever I said it prompted him to say “well it’s harder to get any smaller than you Mom, you work out all the time.” and he too proceeded to add to the conversation as if he had just said “the sky is blue”.
There it was again from a different source. From the one who wouldn’t sugar coat something to make you feel good (that’s his father in him). They both simply had said what they believed to be true which was like getting the best race bling ever! For those of you who do not know I am a medal whore. I Race for the prize because why should I not be rewarded for running for 2+ hours right? As I reflected on these thoughts that my sons had about me, it occurred to me that I have reached a personal milestone in my healthy lifestyle endeavor in this life. I have achieved the admiration of my kids who are proud of me for all this crazy hard work that I do. It’s become so much a part of who I now am that they don’t question it as being Mom’s new workout habit but more like part of what their Mom does. Some mom’s garden (I do that too) and some Moms do crafts and some Moms drive trucks. My kid’s Mom cooks great meals, sings new words to old songs, runs in the rain, would do anything for her kids to be happy and she also does fitness and that’s cool to them. I couldn’t have gotten two better compliments in the world than those two matter of fact statements made in passing by my sons.
Well, that was longer than expected but sometimes they are. Remember that there are those moments that tell you that you’ve arrived that you have to cherish and lock away for the days where you feel like you aren’t doing anything right. They are the moments that motivate us and push us to strive for more every day.
So my friends and I finished the “Run The Year” challenge yesterday. We did all the miles on our own mostly although cumulatively we did some together in race miles and some fun miles too. The last 12 miles we did as a group and it was just great! It was 3 easy miles at breathing pace so we could talk and laugh and just make the most of something fun that we did together. When we finished we took a picture with our medals and felt accomplished and good about ourselves as individuals and as a new group of friends who most definitely will do other things together. We went to dinner, laughed and shared stories and future goals and had ourselves a little celebration of ourselves.
I really like running with friends and feel like I could do so much more with them than I could alone. One of us is a super athlete having run marathons, triathlons, iron man races, brave unique races and just some crazy things. She makes me feel bold and is the reason I consider running something further than a half marathon. Another of us used to smoke like a chimney and has come back from ill health to someone who reminds me that I can achieve anything I set my mind to do. The last of our quartet is someone who makes reminds me that no one can take my cookies away from me and that I deserve to do anything I want to do because this is my life. You see my friends, although they may not know it, are the glue and strength in my everyday life. Each day I know them I realize how fun life can be and how much I have needed friends. These ladies are my special friends and my crazy friends and my supportive friends. They make me strong, make me laugh, keep me realistic but brave and are the piece to my puzzle that has been missing. I love my girls because I am a better person because I know them.
Today I was slow. I ran a 12:11 first mile and slow similar miles for 2 & 3. I wasn’t out of breath but I talked and talked and talked. I spent 36 minutes running and could have run another 3 but I stopped. Today was not about me or training or about my race. It wasn’t about time or fitness or bragging rights. Today I ran with my daughter who is at one of the lowest points in her life struggling with weight. I have been there and I know that struggle. I know the demons that close in at night when there is nothing to do but wait it out until daylight when your responsibilities keep your mind busy until you do it all over again. She asked me to help her and how does one say no to someone reaching out for help? I wish someone had been there to help me instead of me clawing my way out all alone. So I put a plan together for her and I got up at 4:45 and we got out the door just after 5am. Together we started and I did most of the talking which consisted mainly of running basics and only concentrating on one step at a time and finishing because today that’s all that mattered. I talked about things to keep in mind about good form and safe running and running for self satisfaction. I think I threw up every running thing I’ve learned as we ran. I just kept talking so she could mainly stay quiet and concentrate on not puking LOL. We stopped and sipped Powerade every mile so she could take a breather and much to her surprise she made it all 3 miles! You see when you’re alone and struggling the desire to stop outweighs the desire to power through it especially when you’re fighting extra weight and a bulging disc in your back all you want is a reason or an excuse to stop so there is no guilt. It’s really hard. Period.
So today was all about a memory for me. It was about being there when someone needed help to encourage them and show them the way. It was like reaching out my hand to help Fat Brenna and tell her that everything will be ok. It felt wonderful to be there for a first all while hoping it wasn’t the last. It made me feel good and made all the normal thoughts about pace and time and form and things that needed me to do them back at home go away leaving only a sole purpose and that was to be inspiring to someone. It filled me with sunshine on a dreary cloudy day and that is something that you can’t buy. May you have days where it’s all about you because you need those days but may you also have days where it’s all about someone else because that is like community service for your soul.
So just a short post script to my insert saga, the inserts are out! I gave them to my son to try out which probably won’t work because he wears a sixze 13 shoe and well, I don’t. So if anything they’ll bother the bottoms of his toes and he’ll take them out too. I on the other hand refused to do an 11 mile training run ‘adjusting’ to my inserts so I ripped them out and put in an old pair that I tucked away. So much better not having to grimace with each step and focusing on other aspects of a long run than the pain in my feet. So if you are struggling with something like this and trying to suck it up, don’t! Some things are just not worth suffering over so why do it? I’d rather run happy because that’s what running is for me even on the bad days and I’d rather keep it that way.
Today I had Jury Duty and after they let us go I picked up my son and we headed out to do something besides sit inside the house for the rest of the day. Since they don’t provide snacks at Jury Duty and the break was 40 minutes after I got there I didn’t think to bring a snack so I was starving when we were released. John and I decided to eat at Red Robim (yummmmm) sorry couldn’t resist! I had every intention of being good and eating salad, which I love but the more I stared at the burgers which are a collossal no-no in my book, the more I wanted one. I tried staring at the fish and chips plate and said that was what I was ordering but then I began eating our appetizer which by my choice was the NachO.M.G.™ Fun and flavor, layer by layer Tortilla chips loaded with Red’s Chili Chili™, two cheeses, guac, house-pickled jalapeños, tomatoes, diced onion, salsa and sour cream.HolyGod in heaven they were amazing but probably moreso because I was so famished. I ate them and thought that this was the beginning of a Foodgasm. As I ate I got some of the chili and immediately…I mean IMMEDIATELY, my body screamed for more red meat! Definitely Foodgasm without a doubt! There will be no damn discipline at this meal my friends!! LOL it was as clear as day what I had to do. Now I usually have to work a little harder to read signs that my body is giving me like dry elbows or a headache usually mean I need more water, eye twitches mean I’m tired, the backs of my legs pounding after a run usually means that I need new running shoes. Today there wasn’t that much science involved. It was very apparent what I needed and after I surpressed the Id – Ego fight that started tableside arguing that burgers were bad / you need a burger, I politely told our waitress to order me THIS Royal Red Robin beauty right there:
Yes it’s true, I ate this work of art partly because I needed the iron I’m guessing but partly because I knew I could. Not COULD like I had that ability to eat it, more like “I run so go ahead and order it you big whining baby! Live a little you won’t die if you eat a burger one time!” kind of COULD.
Let me just say that this concoction with the egg on top was so amazing that I actually think I literally horked it down! I feel like it was SO good and I enjoyed it SO VERY MUCH that perhaps I might have looked a little like the “When Harry Met Sally” scene in the diner where she fakes an orgasm (turn speakers down or off if you don’t want your co-workers wondering what you’re doing over there in your cubicle all alone!) For those of you who may not seen it, here it is, yes this was how I felt in that Red Robin booth eating this burger….OH GOD it was good!
I’m assuming that if I even looked remotely like an embarrassment my Son either would have told me to knock it off or got up and left me in the booth. Seeing that he didn’t tells me it was just exciting in my head and who cares anyway because it was fulfilling to eat something so wonderful without worrying that I won’t work it off with a second round of exercise on the bike later which will be totally worth it and thank God for that fact because it was just THAT GOOD!