Official results are in, and I lied about my 1/2 marathon time. It’s better than 2 hours, 13 minutes and 53 seconds. It’s 2 hours, 12 minutes and 33 seconds. I came in 34th out of 49 in my age group (35-39) and 185th out of all women overall — not sure how many there were total.
I’m not very good at math. In fact, my third-grader has pretty much out-paced me now that he’s mastering the metric system — yikes! But that doesn’t mean I don’t like numbers. I actually really like them when they have some significance in my life.
I like to say I’m 39 years old (age is kind of like a badge of honor after cancer), that I’ve been married for 14 years, that I have 2 boys (born weighing 10 pounds, 9 ounces and 10 pounds, 2 ounces), that I went to college for 6.5 years, that I’ve survived breast cancer for 5 years, and, now, today, I get to add some new numbers to my bag of tricks. Here goes:
Today, I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 13 minutes and 53 seconds, and it was 29 degrees when I started. I scored 1 pretty medal, 2 hand-made little-boy signs (“Mom, you are a star” on Joey’s sign and “You are good moon mom” on Danny’s sign) and 2 free bagels and some water after the race.
With my mom cooking 1 glorious pasta meal for dinner and John promising me 1 massage later for Valentine’s Day, I’m counting this as a pretty good numbers day — although tomorrow might be a good time to start counting carbs (bagels, pasta!).
The 1/2 marathon I’m going to run next Sunday is kind of like me making a statement. And what I’m saying is that I’m really not that wimpy, after all. Yea, I cried whined the other day when a basketball smacked me in the face during a family game of P-I-G, and I always wimper about doing oh, five regular push-ups, but when it comes to the big stuff (like birthing big babies, beating breast cancer and running long distances), I’m kind of tough.
I’m also saying that the body is a miraculous thing. It can get sick, withstand tortuous treatments and somehow rebound into a healthy, fighting machine. I’ll prove it by crossing the finish line after 13.1 miles with the same legs that five years ago were so weak they could barely support me.
These statements aren’t really visible to anyone else, though — just the stuff that motivates me personally.
I will be running with some tangible statements on race day, though, when I sport one blue ribbon, one orange ribbon and one pink ribbon. Here’s what they’ll say: My orange ribbon will say that I’ve donated blood, my blue ribbon will say that I’ve received blood and my pink ribbon, well, who doesn’t know what that says. Pink is not really part of the event, I’m just adding it, but blue and orange are, because the Five Points of Life race I’m doing raises awareness for the five ways to share life with others through the donation of blood, apheresis, marrow, cord blood, organ and tissue.
Just one week until I make all my 1/2 marathon statements. Then I’ll have to decide on something else to shoot for: an injury-free game of hoops, maybe, or a personal push-up challenge.
Push-ups make me crabby.
Breast cancer made me fat. Well, not fat like being pregnant made me fat (yikes!), but it definitely left me puffy, bloated, soft and about 10 pounds heavier than I like. It’s why I took full advantage of a trip to Canyon Ranch a few years ago — I soaked up a bunch of tips and tricks for eating clean and exercising enough, made lots of lifestyle changes when I got home, and by golly, it worked. I dropped 15 pounds and found a number on the scale that made me happy.
And now, in an ironic turn of events, the very fitness that I’ve worked so hard for is making me fat. Well, not fat, but this 1/2 marathon training is making me thicker, bulkier and about 4 or 5 pounds heavier than I like. I know, I know, it might be muscle, but still, I don’t like it. I mean, I’m burning something like a thousand calories on my long runs, and, well, isn’t that supposed to help me maintain my weight? I know, I know, it might be muscle.
I think the point here is that I’m never entirely content with my body. Why is that? Well, I know partly why — OMG, all those impossible-to-attain media images. All skinny models and actresses aside, though, I’ve got to start loving what I’ve got. Like Danny loves what he’s got.
Six-year-old Danny is a lollygagger. He takes his own sweet time to accomplish anything. It seems like a pretty nice existence (low stress!), but when matters are urgent, his approach is a problem. Take school mornings: rolling around on the floor before he gets dressed and savoring each bit of breakfast just doesn’t work when we’re racing against the clock to get out the door. And today, the guy was in no hurry to brush his teeth and hair. He just stood, staring in the bathroom mirror, completely still.
“Danny, come on!” I urged him. “We need to get in the car!” And then he shared what I’ve been thinking about all day:
“Mom, I’m just checking out my beauty.”
“You are a beauty,” I told Danny, and I let him admire his image for a minute longer (but just a minute, the clock was ticking).
Sometimes wisdom comes wrapped in first-grade packages. Danny looks in the mirror and sees nothing but beauty. He doesn’t see his big tooth growing in all crooked, his messy hair or his clothing that rarely matches. He just sees good. When I look in the mirror, I see gray hair, wrinkles starting to crawl across my face, and the dreaded thigh-ulite. When I really dig deep, I do love my body — gosh, it birthed two humongous babies and beat cancer — but I need to do better at appreciating the goodness on a daily basis. That’s why, starting today, I’m going to take a little more time to look for the beauty.
I think you should, too.
So, I’ve been training for a marathon (training: I love that word — sounds so athletic, which I am totally not), and it’s been going really well. Oh, except that I’m hungry all. the. time. which means I’m eating all. the. time. which means my number on the scale is not exactly what I want it to be. But hey, it’s temporary. Once I cross the finish line, I can back off on the hard-core stuff and get back to modest exercise and moderate eating.
Anyway, the actual running has been great, and I know I can conquer all 13.1 miles on February 14, because this past Sunday, I ran 12. And that leaves just 1.1 to accomplish, and I’m pretty sure I can drag my tired old body that distance to finish the race — well, barring any injuries, that is, which is why I’m writing this update.
Today, 4 miles was my goal. But not long after I started pounding the pavement, something like an ache or a pain twinged in my foot, and it wouldn’t go away. I mean, it did go away for a minute or two, but then it resurfaced, and there was just no way I could put running pressure on it. So I walked, and even that wasn’t pretty — it was all limpy and wimpy, and boy am I bummed. This is the first time I have not complied with the training schedule. Just a blip on the screen, I suppose, so I will take it easy today, and I’ll get back out there tomorrow, because I’ve got 5 miles of ground to cover, and I really, really want to run the whole distance.
I really, really want to stop inhaling food, too, so let’s just hope all my dreams come true, OK?
I promised updates when I announced I’d be running a 1/2 marathon in celebration of surviving breast cancer for five years. (Running 13.1 miles does qualify as a celebration, right? Or should I have gone for the shopping spree, pampered pedicure, yummy dinner at a fancy restaurant?)
Well, here’s update No. 1:
Training is going well, and up until last night when I hopped up quickly from my chair to answer the phone after an 8.5-mile run and realized that for a moment, I could see nothing but darkness and could not respond to the caller (I think that’s called nearly passing out), there really have been no problems — no soreness, tightness, issues with breathing, nothing. Well, my knee is kinda achy today, but I think that’s related to the whole nearly-passing-out thing — here’s the scoop on that:
My tri-athlete-inspired dad sent me some powder recently, and he urged me to mix it with water and drink it after my long runs — I can sip it throughout the run, too, but I must drink it afterward, he said. It’s intended to:
- Improve energy and endurance
- Prevent cramping and dehydration
- Restore electrolytes
- Improve glycogen resynthesis
And I have chugged back the drink on most of my long runs — but not yesterday. Not sure why, I just got caught up in a family game of Uno, I guess, and never did mix the thing up. I suppose that’s why I got all weak and wobbly when I raced for the phone, and why my knee feels funky today. OK, OK, lesson learned. I’m like that, you know. I do things my own way, thinking everything will be just fine, and then I realize that someone else might actually know more than I do. Like the clothing thing. My sister keeps telling me I need some marathon-appropriate gear so I can get all layered and then shed some skin as I warm up on my cool-weather jaunts — because those short shorts I wore in 40-degree temps yesterday just didn’t do my any favors, and it’s very likely that my 7:00 AM race on February 14 will be a bit chilly.
So, while it may seem like my training is not going as well as I report, it really is. I mean, I once was a 3-mile-only girl, and now I’ve conquered more than 8 miles at one time. That’s huge in my book. Plus, I’m feeling so strong on some runs, I just know I could keep going (but I don’t, except for that one time, because I want to stick to the schedule), and, well, I just feel really good about it all. I can truly visualize myself crossing the finish line, and most important in all of this is that I’m pushing my body to perform — the same old body that was knocked out by chemo and folded onto the living room floor with blood counts so low only a blood transfusion could help. Yep, that one. Amazing what the body can do — as long as the person attached to it follows the rules.
Next run: powder drink and some new functional fashion!
You might think I’d celebrate my 5-year cancerversary by going out to dinner. Nope. Buying myself something fun? No. Indulging in a massage or pedicure? Well, the pedicure I’ll probably do, because my sweet sister bought me a gift certificate for one, but mostly, I won’t be splurging on anything in the spirit of survival. Instead, I’m signing up for a 1/2 marathon. And I plan to run. the. whole. thing.
The final four on “The Biggest Loser” Tuesday night convinced me I could do it. They ran a full 26.2 miles, but I’m starting small. I really haven’t ever run more than five miles at one time, so I’m putting myself on a 10-week training schedule in order to work up to the feat. It all started today with a three-mile run. Saturday is four. There will be some rest drizzled in, some strength stuff, and then on Sunday, February 14, I’ll hopefully crank out 13.1 miles for Five Points of Life.
Here’s the scoop: Five Points of Life raises awareness for the five ways to share life with others through the donation of blood, apheresis, marrow, cord blood, organ and tissue. Then there’s the exercise component — setting a goal of running or walking a marathon is a great way to commit to a fitness plan that can make a permanent difference in someone’s health and life.
This is perfect for me, because (1) I am a recipient of blood donation — when chemo knocked me on my butt and landed me in the hospital, two units of someone’s blood perked me right up. (2) I’ve also donated. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it — I got all dizzy, had to be carted off on a red chair and was fed cookies and juice until I revived. But hey, someone got my blood, and maybe a life was saved. (3) I’m all about being fit, since I’m pretty sure it might be my key to living a long life, and I figure this training thing will keep me motivated to stay in shape.
OK, so this personal challenge might not be all roses and sunshine. Thirteen miles is, yes, a lot of miles. Training could take a lot of time (which I happen to have, thanks to my no-job scenario), it could be really tiring, I’m going to have to tweak my diet so I’m getting the proper fuel, and I’m not really looking forward to the strength training thing — I just don’t love it. Still, I’m inspired.
So, I’m signing up.
Before I chicken out.
I’ll be right back.
Done. I’m registered. I admit: It was hard to push that submit button (especially after realizing that it will likely take me hours to run this event), but it’s a done deal now.
I’m off and running.
Updates to follow.