In which I make peace with being crazy (aka: the race report)

Even though the last time I checked this was supposed to be a blog about the children, it seems I've allowed myself some editorial license and made it all about me, me, me and also me. A surefire way to discourage readership, no doubt. In the meantime, the kids have been saying and doing all sorts of cute and memorable things, but I'm going to save those stories for another time because I have some life-altering riveting , (what, not even mildly interesting?)  news to report.

I confessed last week to being a sand bagger, particularly when it comes to running. It goes something like this:
1) Set easy, achievable goals.
2) Achieve them, easily.
3) Feel proud of yourself for roughly 24 hours.
4) Celebrate that night with guacamole and margaritas.
5) Repeat cycle.

For some reason (cough--Salty--cough), I decided to break this perfectly enjoyable cycle and start a new one. It goes something like this.
1) Set difficult, seemingly impossible goals.
2) Work your tail off only to miss the goal by a small enough margin that you start to believe it IS achievable.
3) Feel permanently more proud of yourself for digging deep and failing than you ever have for sailing into easy success.
4) Immediately begin scheming about the next opportunity to meet aforementioned stretch goal.
5) Celebrate that night with guacamole and margaritas. (Because clearly, there are some parts of the cycle that don't need fixing.)

Coming off my spring half marathon, I decided my next goal was to shave two minutes from my time to come in around 1:45. My stretch goal was to run a pace under 8:00 minutes per mile (roughly 1:44:30).

But then I met Salty.
And we started running together.
And she started giving me advice.
And I started listening.
And it was all uphill from there, folks...

So when I toed the line in my fall half marathon yesterday, I was shooting for a sub-1:40 and a 7:38 pace. (What the whah? Four years ago I was patting myself on the back for finishing a 5k under a 10 minute mile pace. So yeah, the question who the freak do I think I am comes to mind.)

I'll cut to the chase (which I probably should've done five paragraphs ago). I gave it everything I had in the half marathon yesterday, and missed my stretch goal by 2 minutes. Official time was 1:42:02, a 7:48 minute mile pace. But with the race in its first year and a relatively small turnout, that time turned out to be enough to win my age group and place 6th for women overall. I'll take it!

Several times over the course of those 13.1 miles, I desperately wanted to back off the aggressive pace. The course had several hills--the sort of hills that when people ask "is this the hill you want to die on?", you pipe back a resounding "YES!".  There was also the matter of the wind, the kind of wind that makes Mary Poppins curse and severely complicates forward motion.

The last mile consisted of a long, low-grade incline against 20+ mph gusts. My shoes turned into bricks and I felt fairly certain that paying money to put myself through this torture was one of the most ridiculous and insane things I'd ever done.

But you know what else is insane? Running a half marathon at a faster pace than I could run just ONE mile at HALF my age. So yeah. I think I can make peace with being crazy.


In which I'm going for it

I'm going to race a half marathon in a little over a week. Not run it--race it. I've set an "A goal" that scares the shitake out of me, and while it's nowhere in the vicinity of a local elite time, it requires me to step up into "an elite version of myself" (as a fellow runner so eloquently put it).

I'm scared. Which is weird and makes me feel ridiculous. Because it's just a road race. Nothing's on the line. The outcome doesn't matter in any way, shape or form. I can't explain why I care as much as I do, why I'm holding this goal so tightly. The caring makes me feel foolish and vulnerable and like I should make a joke about how I run simply for the love of margaritas and cheese. But the truth is I (mostly) gave up alcohol and ice cream for the last two weeks in hopes that better nutrition would mean I could run faster. See what I mean? I simply can't explain why I care this much. (Giving up ice cream? How seriously messed up is that?)

I'm a lifelong sandbagger with a penchant for avoiding failure and life along with it. And this race, well, it's quite possibly the first time I've ever, of my own volition, stepped up to the start of anything knowing there is as much a chance of failure as success.

I feel like I'm flirting concurrently with disaster and breakthrough. I have only a vague idea of what my limits are, but know with certainty they'll be tested when I race next week. I know that if I do it right, it's going to hurt for the better part of 13.1 miles. I know that if I do it right, I'll be making the ugly face for so long that there's a high probability of it freezing that way. (Again, the sane 1% of my brain has to ask--why am I doing this!?)

I'm scared. About a race that has zero meaning in the overall scheme of things. And yes, it's weird and makes me feel ridiculous and melodramatic. But it also makes me feel alive and excited and maybe even slightly courageous.

So no more sandbagging. I'm saying it here so I don't wuss out. When the time comes to toe the line, I'm going all in.


Monkey {Just Write}

There's a reason we've called her "Monkey" since before she was born. She began by swinging from my ribs, and every day since, she's squirmed, flipped, wriggled, leaped, launched, twisted and cartwheeled from one hour to the next.

She swings by her knees when she wants to feel free, and climbs me like a tree when she wants to be held. 

When she was around three years old, she insisted she wasn't just Monkey anymore. She was Monkey Princess, and we were instructed to address her accordingly. She mimicked her brother's karate forms with a rendition of her own "Monkey Princess Form", in a tutu of course. I recall a good deal of kicking and arm flailing, with an occasional shout of "Mooonkeeeey Priiiinceeeessss!!!" and then a hurling of her tiara like a Chinese star halfway across the playroom. Being the wise parents we were, we took the tiara away until she was old enough to refrain from using it as a weapon.

At four, she gave us the okay to drop the princess label, so we're back to calling her plain old Monkey again.

I bemoan to my friends about her insistence on wearing a dress 360 days out of the year. I contrast my hatred of pink with her love of it, my tomboy leanings with her girly-girl obsessions.  I joke that I have to take her over to Auntie 'Chelle's to get her hair done or her nails painted, because lord knows her mother doesn't have a clue. I exchange mortified looks with her father when she says she'd rather  be a cheerleader than a soccer player.

Truth be told, she baffles, exasperates, and bewilders me.
Truth be told, she amazes me.

I love you, Monkey.

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