Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Better Half

Three years ago I’d never run anything longer than a 10k in my entire life. I wanted to knock out 1 marathon before 30 just to check it off. Along the way I did some races including two half marathons… and 3 years later I’m still at it. However, this year, I did something new and got into cycling to do a century for the Livestrong challenge, since if nothing else the last 2 years have taught me that new challenges come with some costs, physical, financial and emotional but hey…  Kiana loves butterflies and one of her books talks about how they have to be able to tear through some struggles to learn to fly. I don’t know that I’ll ever learn to fly but I am sure trying to not learn to quit.
I haven’t been allowed to drive for a month so cycling has become my car or walking has. It feels incredibly serendipitous that I learned from that training how to be a better biker, excuse me cyclist. My blog, picking up a hitchhiker, is named that because I’ve picked up every hitchhiker I’ve ever come across and I am not sure I actually believe in Karma but I’ve gotten rides or ridden to everywhere I need to go safely.

I wasn’t missing this half marathon no matter what because it was my mom’s first and there’s something about not missing firsts. It was a lot tougher than I realized it would be. I borrowed a stroller from the expensive Bob types and it makes a huge difference. I was running with Kiana so I couldn’t have earphones like I usually do for races so I had a little portable speaker system. And unlike typical… I didn’t want to be rude so I started further back to not be in people’s way with a stroller. The songs for this playlist were well thought out and they were incredibly about home…wayne watson’s the long way home, Celtic thunder’s I wanna go home, when you’re home from in the Heights, Maroon’s five when you’re home, and it ended with Bon Jovi’s who says you can’t go home. Some of those are about home in general and some are hopelessly romantic for the guy who seems so insistent on being single…  The last meal I had before going out there was at a Chinese place whose fortune cookie seems to want to argue with me like some friends and family do.

I wish I could tell you a lot about the race but the honest truth is that it was cold and windy and I was just trying to keep going.  I breathed harder than I have for any race other than track ones because I literally buckled down to hold the stroller steady for a good section of the race and my back hurts a lot 3 days later. Kiana slept for the first half hour and every so often after she woke up gave me the heckling faster, daddy after that she does every so often.  Plus I had this Mohawk that surely made me more aerodynamic.

A guy ran with me for about miles 5-10 and said to me there was no chance we could keep that pace. I stayed behind him since he was from there figuring that would keep my spatial orientation issues from letting me get lost. I thought he was right but it only turned out true for him. I had a heckler (Kiana) to keep me going moving from 5th to 4th at that point. I could see the leaders but they were “forever” up the road. I tried to gun it and would pass 2 of them literally in the last half mile but never could catch the first guy. I ended up 19 seconds behind him in gun time and 5 seconds in chip time.  But while winning would have made my day and anyone who reads this knows I’m competitive, I was there for something bigger. I tried to get Kiana to go back out but it had gotten colder so she stayed with grandpa waiting at Ratliff Stadium, home to Friday night lights. A policeman who controlled the final intersections (I was bundled up and wearing a hat by the time I passed him the second time) asked why I was going back and I told him to finish with my mom; I was stopping to make sure I was heading back the right way. He started to tell me about a crazy guy with a Mohawk who was running with a stroller; I took off my hat.  I jogged back out on the course and the volunteers at mile 11 said that there were no half marathoners left, that they had all gotten on the trail wagon. I was in shock and let’s be clear would have been thoroughly disappointed in my mother if that was true. It turned out she was just up the road and I would see her, jog out to her and we’d finish the last couple of miles together. Kiana would join us as we did the last quarter of a mile on the track and I got my mom to jog the last bit (or what she thought was jogging anyway).

The local paper ended up doing a story on my mom’s first half marathon (http://www.oaoa.com/sports/local/recreational/article_462d74e6-1038-11e2-9b83-001a4bcf6878.html). I’ve done a lot more and even with trophies have never made the paper… oh well. As we crossed the last policeman, he shouted at my mom, your son is my hero; the girls I finished between are mine and why I keep going. The newspaper was kind enough to send me the picture of us finishing together and you better believe that’s on this year’s holiday card. (email me your address if you want one).
I’ve ran other halfs, the next one is the one that I would do not too long after the biopsy with the coincidental bib of 911.… and now that it’s getting darker… I hope I can still figure out a way to get to the workouts. But I had bib #8 on this, appropriately enough, I’ve gotten it on the 3 most significant races, the Livestrong Marathon, the BrainPower 5k and the Crossroads Marathon. A lot of my life for the last two years have felt like some strange crossroads but while that was my second best time in the half marathon, it was my best half. I hope this half, my better half, my best half so far in my opinion even if it’s slower is symbolic of my life where my family is active participants not just spectators.  I am in the second half of that too and no matter what else I’ve gotten wrong, I’m getting better at those parts. 

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