Sunday, November 28

Did It!

Saturday, November 27


  • Words I never thought I'd hear Adam utter: "I don't like the Wiggles. Well, at least, some of them."
  • After reading how toxic raw turkey is, on Wednesday night after brining the turkey, I bleached everything. I used bleach on the sink, the floor, the back wall, the counter, the side of the fridge, the front of the dishwasher. In the process, I also bleached the shirt I was wearing. Simply didn't think about it and got giant pale blotches across the front of my shirt. Which wouldn't be so bad... if I didn't do the exact same thing the next afternoon. Well, not exactly the same. The second time around I also bleached my pants.
  • My holiday shopping is absolutely complete and except for two items that have yet to arrive, everything is wrapped. The holiday cards have been made (every year I make my own and every year I think, "Why the hell am I doing this?") but not yet written and mailed--although they will be soon!
  • There was a specific toy I wanted for Doodles (and I'm not saying what it is because I'm also getting one for another friend's son; I don't think that friend reads my blog, but just in case...). I really wanted it for him even though he won't know or care one iota if he doesn't get it. The whole thing was really irrational. I ordered it from Amazon, but they went out of stock on it (not that I got an e-mail about it or anything--it may not be available till February and it took me wondering where it was to investigate my account. I'm still an Amazon fan--they brainwashed it into us--but come on, guys!). So I searched ebay. But it was a fortune on ebay and I just couldn't justify it. So I called the manufacturer and ordered it from them. Once done, I was quite pleased with myself. Until I realized, I'm that mother. I'm the mother who is beating up other mothers to get to that last Cabbage Patch doll on the shelf. Not pretty.
  • I've been pimping out my son. Now that he can kiss properly--puckering up and everything--we go out and I offer up his kisses to everyone. "Doodles, why don't you give G. a kiss? Oh, Doodles, why don't you give J. a kiss, too?" I just can't help it. It's so darn cute!

Wednesday, November 24

Turkey Talk

I'm not going to write much because really there's no one reading this. When it goes live, everyone will be with family or preparing their Thanksgiving meals (as the Tweedle Twirp is doing right now, putting together an apple pie for tomorrow, or as Doodles would say, ahhhh-ple! He doesn't know how to say pie) or out seeing old friends (I heard on the radio that tonight is actually the biggest bar night of the year as people go home and go out with friends and family, which I guess makes sense). So I'll just give you a few little tidbits from our Thanksgiving-to-be:

  • We're brining our turkey for the first time ever, just as the federal government's new guidelines say not to wash turkeys.
  • The cranberry sauce, squash, pumpkin cake, and spiced nuts (for the salad) are all already made.
  • Our father is missing the annual pilgrimage to Wilson Farms on Thanksgiving Day morning to pick up the three things we forgot (and somehow it's always three things that are forgotten).
  • Every year around noon someone says, "Hey, what about lunch?" And there we all are, starving, with the oven full and the stove burners full, not that anyone feels like cooking anything else. Solved that problem this year. Making chili tonight in the slow cooker so no one passes out midday from starvation. The pre-dinner noshing will be chili, pumpkin bread, and mulled hot cider while we watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade and then football. Although my mother said the weather might be bad enough tomorrow that they wouldn't have the balloons in the parade, however, my mother has been wrong--oh, let's just say--once or twice before.
  • Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Has been for years. Yeah, Thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Girly Boys

So, I guess I'm really not liberated at all. Stick an apron on me, knock me up, take away my shoes, and we're done. Because this is a real live actual conversation I had with my husband. No, I'm not proud of it.

Scene: Adam has just returned from the grocery store where he purchased a new straw sippy cup to replace the one we left at the Deluxe Diner.
Adam: Here's the cup.
Me: Oh, thanks. [pause] It's pink.
Adam: Yeah.
Me: Didn't they have any of the green ones left?
Adam: For the record, no. But I thought you didn't care about color. You know, gender stereotypes, blah blah blah.
Me: Yeah, no, of course I don't care. Pink is fine. [pause] So they really didn't have any boy colors left?

I hope I'm still allowed to keep my copy of Free To Be ... You And Me.

Wednesday, November 17

Short Takes

This month's postings will be light, as I'm saving my words for Nanowrimo. Here's what's on my mind, though:
--Words I never thought I'd say: Doodles, how many times do I have to tell you, you're only allowed to flush the toilet once a day!
--There really aren't enough opportunities in life to wear one's medals. There should be more medal-wearing occasions.
--In case anyone was wondering, Doodles is not yet ready for finger painting. Let's just say it wasn't a pretty site and if you're wondering why Doodles's a*ss (I mean tushie) is multi-hued, well, you can fill in the blanks.
--In reading an article in the New York Times Style Section, I learned that bars in Minneapolis are now legally allowed to stay open until 2 a.m., although most still close at 1 a.m. My first thought was, "Now why would anyone need to be drinking at 2 a.m.?" when it suddenly occured to me that I spent eight years living in Seattle bitching and moaning that bars closed at the freakin' early hour of 2 a.m. It is absolutely inconceivable to me that at some point in my life, I thought 2 a.m. was an acceptable hour to be out and about and drinking.
--First trip to the E.R. for Doodles and we all survived. Wooden slide at the toddler gym, an overexcited boy lunging for the slide, and three stitches after a two-hour wait in the E.R. It's official: we're in toddlerdom.
--We've got words! Okay, just two of them, but Doodles now says "apple" and "baby." Of course since he won't eat apples and we really don't know many babies younger than him, these aren't the most helpful words. I'm been working on more useful words, but so far, no success. But I keep trying! Before you know it, Doodles will be saying words like "Veggie Booty" and "Mommy needs a martini."
--We're also getting a lot of "yeahs." Hence yesterday's conversation: "Are you going to go into the car seat nicely?" "Yeah." "Really? Do you have any idea what I just asked?" "Yeah." "Are you going to fly to the moon so you can have green cheese for dinner?" "Yeah."
--The only thing better than the "yeah"s are the "uh oh"s. These are usually following something he intentionally did like when his sippy cup is being lobbed across the room. "Uh oh." Charming. Utterly charming.

You'll Eat Those Words

Is there anything more annoying than having an arrogant [fill in expletive of your choice] for a husband--a husband who despises running and who exercises approximately once every other month--who says things like, "I could do a 4:40 marathon! I'll do it next year. You'll see." I didn't think there was.

Wednesday, November 10

Run Like the Wind... Or at Least a Gentle Breeze

Grab a cup of coffee or tea, because this is the longest post I've ever written!

the marathonThe big weekend has come and gone. I, along with 36,512 others, finished the ING New York City Marathon. As they say in their promo material: 100 countries, 50 states, 5 boroughs, 1 finish line. And I'm relieved to say, I crossed it. While I never doubted I'd make it, the trip there wasn't always pretty. In fact, I seriously underestimated how broken I'd be after the race, and I am able to blog this now thanks only to the illness of a child: one of the girls in Doodles's day care room was sick, so he was able to pick up an extra day. I was panicked at the idea that I'd be hobbling after him, unable to reach him before he reached 1) an electrical outlet, 2) the top of the stairs, 3) sharp objects he happened to find on the street, or 4) anything at all once he realized that I didn't have the capability to chase after him and physically restrain him.

We left Boston for New York on Thursday night, trying to time it with Doodles's bedtime. We got him bathed, bottled, and into his pajamas and then put him in the car. The night was nasty--lots of rain--so the going was unpleasant. We arrived at our Howard Johnsons Express (on Houston between Forsythe and Elridge) at 11:30 p.m. I ran out to check us in and poor Doodles woke up in terror. Who could blame him? The noises, the lights, the strange men loitering outside the car. When I took him out to bring him up to the room, he was a mess, overtired and thoroughly confused. After about an hour, he settled back down and went to sleep in the hotel-provided crib. I picked the HoJos because it's so close to my sister's apartment. And, of course, it's a cheap place to stay. But let me tell you, $135 in Manhattan really doesn't get you much; it certainly doesn't get you a closet!

The next day, after breakfast with friends, Jason (a friend from Seattle who was also running), Adam, Doodles, and I headed up to the Jacob Javits Center for the race expo. The marathon site urged people to go on Wednesday or Thursday because of the crowds, but obviously that was impossible for us. We got there at 10:12 a.m., just after they opened, and already the entry line snaked around the lobby. We got into line, but only had to wait a moment because one of the officials pulled us out. He took us straight to the desk and said, "I'll be pulling out people with strollers to bring them to you." The woman gave us a little grief for both Jason and I going in ("Only one of you needs to bring the stroller") but we made it in. Future marathoners, tip #1: Bring a baby to the expo!

For about 45 minutes we wandered the expo, picking up our race number, chip, t-shirt, and tons and tons of schwag. Tip #2: The ING booth gives out pace bands--paper bracelets that give you your needed splits to reach a particular race time--but the pace bracelets at the Nike booth are superior: first of all they're in plastic and second of all they break down the miles taking into account the elevation gains. So, for instance, I was hoping to hit a five-hour marathon, so my first mile split should have been 12:35 (for the massive uphill of the Verazano Bridge) and my second 10:45 (because of the decline). Really helpful. Anyway, the expo was a tad overwhelming and in retrospect, I should have taken a heck of a lot more of the free Tylenol 8-hour samples. But what did I know? (Okay, tip #3: Take as many pain-reliever samples as are offered!)

I didn't want to spend too much time on my feet and we all had people to see, so we left around 11ish. By the time we got outside, the line that had filled the lobby now snaked outside the building, down for at least a block along the street.

Saturday was just a blur to me as Adam and I tried to keep Doodles entertained in a way that didn't require me to do too much walking. Happily, Doodles has found a new love: chasing pigeons. And as anyone who's ever been to a New York park knows, there is never a pigeon shortage. So I sat on park benches while Adam chased Doodles who chased pigeons. A New York experience for all.

I carbo-loaded both Friday and Saturday nights (as well as every other night that week). On Friday night, I went with my parents, Adam, and Doodles to Cucina de Pesche in the East Village. Unfortunately, only my parents and I got to finish our dinner. It was six o'clock (Doodles goes to bed at seven) and the lights in the restaurant were low--very low. Sleep-inducing low. So off Adam went with Doodles at 6:15 to put him to bed. My meal was fabulous. Adam said that even cold (I got his to-go), his was quite good. On Saturday night the Tweedle Twirp agreed to stay with Doodles (she doesn't normally eat that early anyway) so my parents, Adam, the Claire Bear, Hannah, and I went for another East Village pasta meal at Bona Fides. Ate my fill and roly-pollied myself to bed for a night of non-sleep. I tossed and turned all night, so anxious about the race, excited that I was going to check something else off my "life goals list," and nervous about oversleeping. I shouldn't have worried about the latter: I was awake a full hour before the alarms--I set three of them--went off.

Race morning
At 5:15 I rolled out of bed, dressed as quietly as I could, grabbed my bag, and headed out. New York may be the city that never sleeps, but just try finding a salt bagel with cheese in the pre-dawn hours of a Sunday in the East Village. Eventually, I got a plain bagel with cheese and I simply poured salt on it. I grabbed some extra salt packs to use in the latter part of the race.

The subway at this hour isn't packed. I hadn't accounted for the fact that trains run quite infrequently on Sunday mornings and I was a little nervous that I'd be late. A guy also waiting struck up a conversation with me. There's no doubt that in that context--alone in the subway where the only other folks out were either going to jobs or making the walk of shame while I stood there in sweats and a shirt with not only my race number pinned to it, but my name written on duct tape across my chest--I was looking pretty darn dorky. But the guy was impressed with my endeavor and he chatted with me about running until the subway came. Getting on the subway, I looked around for other runners and felt discouraged when I saw none. But at each stop, one by one, they trickled on, obvious by either their displayed numbers or by their UPS bags (before the race, you check a clear plastic bag with the belongings you'll want after the race). I felt such a camaraderie and we'd nod to each other if they were far away or make small talk if they were close by.

Eugene and I on the bus to the startI met up with Jason and Eugene at the corner of 42nd and 5th, and we made our way through yet another long line, this time for the buses. What a surreal feeling! The sun was just starting to peek through the buildings and Manhattan simmered with the energy of the runners. Masses and masses of buses--as far as I could see--lined up and took off, carrying runners to Staten Island. We loaded up for the hour-long ride to the starting line. I was so glad to be able to ride out with my friends because it cut the tension a lot to be able to relax and joke around (and I notice in Eugene's post about the marathon he doesn't mention his bright idea to cut the lining out of his running shorts; happily for him, Jason talked him out of doing it). I took tons of pictures on my phone and sent them to my family. Unlike half the other runners, I checked my phone in my bag because I didn't want to carry it. How weird it was to be running and have the person next to you stop to answer a phone!

Starting Line
the marathonThe sun was shining strong--too strong, for my tastes--when we got to Staten Island. Unfortunately, I had to split up with Jason and Eugene, because they were in the blue start and I was the orange (because there are so many runners, people are divided into three different starts based on their predicted finish time; orange takes a slightly different route from blue/green because some of the Brooklyn streets are so narrow, and they all merge together at the eight mile point). My first quest was coffee--didn't want to risk a caffeine headache--although I did take a quick peek into the Minyan (Jewish worship services) being held out of curiosity. The line for coffee was the only line longer than the one for the Portapotties. In line I befriended Lauren, a South African runner who's spending a year in New York. As another first-timer, we stuck together through the coffee and into the Portapotty lines. One trip to the Portapotty, however, is not enough, and at about 9:50, we were both anxious for another trip, yet with a 10:10 start, there was nowhere near enough time to make it. We ended up squatting behind some UPS trucks, however, with my shy bladder, this did not do the trick for me, and now I was not only stressing the race, but I was stressing the bathroom situation. Tip #4 (which I didn't understand until way too late): Wait until the starting cannon goes off. Then--before you cross the start line--dip into the Portapotties on the side. They will be free. This way your official time (the time from the starting cannon to when you cross the finish line) will rack up but your chip time (from when you cross the starting line to when you cross the finish line) will be good.

And They're Off
At 10:10 the cannon went off. And we cheered. And we stood. And stood. And stood a little longer. Finally, the crowd started moving. But then we stopped. And stood. And then we surged forward a bit more until we were comfortably walking. Twenty-four--yes, 24--minutes later, I reached the starting line and the Verazano Bridge stretched before me. This is actually one of the biggest inclines, but you don't even notice it because of the energy and because you're simply not moving that fast.

So, here's where I made a couple of critical mistakes:
1) During training I always wore my Garmin Forerunner 201 GPS. It tracks distance, pace, calories, etc. This, hands down, was the best training tool I used. When I wear it in races, though, I become compulsive. I look at it constantly. "What's my pace? How long till the next water stop?" So I decided not to wear it during the marathon. After all, I knew there would be clocks every mile. Yet, it turns out I don't have a real sense of pacing, especially when the crowd is surging like that. So I was unable to maintain a consistent pace.
2) I let the crowds get to me. I hate being closed in by other runners, but in this race, particularly at this point, you have to let that go. You have to let yourself go a tad slower around the other runners. Instead, wanting a clear field in front of me, I'd speed up a little to pass folks forcing myself slightly ahead of my pace (I was hoping for a five-hour marathon, which is about an 11:45 pace). By the time I saw the first split clock, I was way ahead of my pace, running almost a 10:00 pace (subtracting, of course, the 24 minutes it took me to get to the start--nothing like seeing 34:05 at your first mile clock!!).

Unfortunately, the song "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" was in my head for a lot longer than the short sprint through Staten Island (which was especially frustrating because I only know two lines of the song). Cresting the bridge, the cheers of the crowd could be heard from below. Wow. What exhilaration. Another reason to wear the Garmin: the crowds just push you along with their enthusiasm. On one hand, I feel like I saw nothing because I was in such a daze; the event still didn't feel like it was happening. All this time, all this training built up to this exact moment I was experiencing and nothing about it felt real. Yet on the other hand, I felt myself pushing a little stronger every time someone shouted out "Go Jenny B.!" which was pretty often.

In the back of my mind and in the front of my bladder, though, was this pressing need to pee. No way was I going to make it to the end. And the more I stressed it, the more I had to go. Finally I decided I was better off just doing it quickly and getting it over with. Just after mile 3 were Portapotties. I eyed the lines and picked the one with the men in it because they are always faster than women. Had I been thinking clearly, I would have considered, "Hmmm, why aren't those men just peeing on the side of the road? Why would they bother to wait in the Portapotty lines?" But I wasn't thinking clearly and I waited in that line for a full agonizing ten-minutes. The longest ten minutes of my life. But it was ultimately worth it as I felt 100 times lighter when I got back on the road. However, once again I psyched myself out and I ran slightly faster than I should have to "make up" time.

I knew I was in trouble when I saw the pace clock for the four mile mark: I was exactly on pace for the five-hour mile. However, I had been out of the race for ten minutes. Which means I was running way faster than I should have. I tried to pull back, but by then, I think it was too late.

the cheering sectionThe New York marathon has this excellent feature called Athlete Alerts. I was able to sign up e-mail addresses to be notified of my splits. So I sent the alerts to Adam's phone and he knew right when I crossed the 10k mark. Just after that point, he, Doodles, my parents, and Hannah were waiting for me with "Run Jenny Run" and "Go Mommy" signs. At this point, I still felt good and I began waving frantically the minute I spotted them. They passed in mere seconds but the psychological boost lasted a few miles.

still got some energyBrooklyn is a looooong stretch of the race. You're in Brooklyn till the half-marathon point. Brooklyn, though, has spirit. The bands alongside of the road, the people cheering, the folks banging on garbage can lids to help us keep the pace, apartment dwellers blasting music out for us, the little kids on the side who wanted their hands slapped--just helped me float through. Just after mile 8 had to be my favorite part of the race. So much energy contained in that one little mile. Mile 8 is what kept me going throughout the rest of the race.

One of the best things about the marathon is simply seeing all the different neighborhoods and all the different runners. Not to get sentimental, but I truly felt inspired by the Achilles Team, which is the runners with disabilities and their guides. I passed a blind woman run/walking, a man in a wheelchair, and a man with one leg on crutches. Watching them made me feel so petty when I started to hurt. Now that I've done this, I would love to do it again as an Achilles' Guide.

I lived in Manhattan for seven years, and being the city snob I was at the time, I never saw much of Brooklyn. Well I've seen it now! Bedford-Stuyvesant (where Do The Right Thing was filmed) is gorgeous with all those brownstones. Terrific crowds here, too. Williamsburg was a mix--first lots of funky stores and a multi-ethnic crowd that slowly turned into predominantly Hasidic. Some of the young Hasidic kids stood on the side with their hands out to be slapped. There wasn't much cheering going on here, but many gave out hard candies and lollipops. Others looked at us as if we were crazy--which granted we pretty much were.

Amazing to me how many people didn't familiarize themselves with the route. "Oh we hit the halfway point!" someone said. I felt bad correcting them, but not too bad if they hadn't realized we hadn't hit the 13 mile marker, never mind the 13.1 mile marker/chip mat crossing. "Actually the halfway point is just on the other side of the bridge." They didn't believe me. Another person said, "When we cross this bridge, we're in Manhattan!" Well, sure if by Manhattan you mean Queens.

The Pulaski bridge obviously had an incline to it, but at this point, I was still doing okay. When I was training, people gave me all sorts of suggestions for making it to the end. Some suggesting dedicating each mile to a different person and thinking about them for that mile. I tried that, but after three seconds I forgot what I was supposed to be focusing on and was watching the crowd again. Others said to try and sing songs in your mind. "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" was on a short loop but that was it. Eventually what worked for me was not thinking about the length. Early on, I simply told myself I had to get to the next mile marker. Since I walk through water stations, basically I could have a break at each one. So on the Pulaski bridge, my only thought was getting to mile 14. And that worked. That and I promised myself I could take my next Gu at 13 miles, which was another goal to work towards (I brought three Orange Burst Gu to take at Miles 3, 8, and 13, with the knowledge that PowerGel would be available at Mile 18 and I could grab a couple there). I also popped two more Motrin.

Heading towards the Queensboro Bridge, I was slightly focused on just how we'd get up there! That's an incline! Nike had a series of building-sized banners up that actually were quite helpful. The one on the bridge said, "Run like all of Queens is behind you... and Manhattan wants to hug you." I focused on that as I ran up the bridge. Surprisingly, I was one of very, very few people actually running (okay, jogging). I had a tough time dashing around those who were walking, but I was thrilled all my hill work paid off.

Our first foray into Manhattan was a loud one. The crowds up 1st Avenue were strong. Now, I had a few goals in mind. We passed the 16-mile mark on the bridge, so I knew I just had to get to mile 17. Plus at mile 18 was the PowerGel and the real motivator was I knew at mile 19 was the Tweedle Twirp and her boyfriend (the Tweedle Twins) and at mile 22 the Claire Bear. Despite the ever cheering crowds (and thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who cheered us on by name. What a difference it still made when people yelled, "Looking good, Jenny B.!" "You can do this, Jenny B.!"), 1st Avenue was a little rough psychologically. On all the other stretches, I really didn't have a strong feeling for when the next mile marker was going to hit, so I was able to just go with the flow. However, I know that 20 city blocks equals one mile so I was extremely conscious of how far I was going and how much farther I had to go to my "just one more mile" mark. There are many slight inclines along 1st Avenue, so I just kept repeating my mantra to myself, "Chew 'em up and spit 'em out!"

At mile 17 I had another psychological blow: I went to grab the salt packet I had saved out of my shorts pocket... and it wasn't there. I had crammed two Gus, a Motrin pack, and the salt in there and when I pulled out the Gu or Motrin, it must have fallen out. I'm sure the salt didn't make much of a difference, but I had been counting on it.

Grabbing my Green Apple PowerGels at Mile 18 may have also been a mistake. I've only used Gu, and I hadn't realized the PowerGels were caffeinated. But I needed the push so I downed one. At Mile 18 my time was still decent. I was starting to feel some pain in my legs and I was definitely bushed. However someone once told me that the way you feel at Mile 18 is the way you'll feel at the finish and I took heart in the fact that I felt okay. Not great, but okay. Definitely doable. Unfortunately who ever told me that lied.

Between Mile 19 and 20 we hit Harlem, and my own cheering section. The Tweedle Twins jumped up and down when they saw me, screaming and holding a "Run Jenny Run" sign. I squeaked out to them, "I hurt!" but I kept going, feeling bolstered by their enthusiasm.

The Bronx is when things started to go both wrong and right. On the Willis Bridge into the Bronx at Mile 20, the pain in my legs was pounding. The cramping was tremendous. People were walking across the bridge, and I finally conceded and took short walking breaks. I was feeling a little discouraged and 6.2 miles seemed like an awfully long way to go. For whatever reason, though, I glanced up at the empty bridge and noticed a guy looking down (tying his shoe I think?). Without even being conscious of it, I yelled, "Scott!" before I think it fully clicked in my mind that this was indeed my friend Scott. He looked up and I yelled, "Jump in!" and, bless him, he did. "I'm hurting Scott. Help me out here!"

For the rest of the Bronx Scott took my mind off the pain with chit chat. He boosted me along and kept telling me what a fabulous job I was doing. I still had to stop and walk occasionally when the pain in my thighs became overwhelming but I'd get back to it again. I took a deep breath at Mile 21, read the next Nike banner ("Run the next 5.2 miles like the wall is just another street... and bring this baby home"), and pushed. My thighs were throbbing. I could swear I could see them visibly bulging in and out. The bottoms of my feet ached from slamming against the pavement. My energy levels, despite all the Gu and PowerGel and Gatorade, were running pretty low. I could hear people shouting my name, but it was as if they were yelling through water. My surroundings were pretty much a haze. But finally, I reached the bridge that carried me into...

Manhattan (for the final time)
With Scott by my side, I trudged along. My walking periods were shorter and shorter. I can't say I felt better, but there was no doubt in my mind that I could finish. "Just one foot in front of the other," I kept telling myself. At mile 21 1/2, I saw my cousin Daniella and her new husband John. They cheered mightily for me and it gave me an extra boost. About three-quarters of a mile after that, I spotted the Claire Bear and Dave Rainey on the sidelines. Moments later, the Claire Bear jumped in, and I continued sailing down 5th Avenue flanked by her and Scott. "Just get to mile 23," I kept muttering. The crowds here were awesome but I barely registered them. Then, around mile 23, we entered the park. Homestretch. Somewhere in the back of my head, I heard Claire and Scott exclaiming how beautiful the park was, but I noticed nothing except the road ahead of me and the glare of the sun in my eyes. "One foot in front of the other. Chew 'em up, spit 'em out." Over and over and over. The hills were plentiful--tiny inclines that had my thighs screaming. Mile 24. Walked through the water stop as usual. The Metropolitan Museum was on my left, which bummed me out because I remember that being fairly high up. But I kept going. I did manage to hear one person yell, "Go Jenny B.!" and then say to her friends, "Can you believe she's smiling?" I felt like I was in a bubble, only that's not really not accurate because bubbles are light and I was traveling with lead on my feet, but you know what I mean. At Mile 25, I considered just plowing through, but I knew I couldn't make that last mile without some energy, so I slowed to grab my final Gatorade. Just one more mile. Just one more million-mile long one mile. We exited the park and hit 59th Street. Claire and Scott peeled off and were swallowed whole by the crowds on either side. A woman on the side held up a board that said, "You are so close!" "How close?" I hollered. Enthusiastically she shouted, "You turn just up ahead! The finish line is just about 3/10s of a mile after the turn. You can do it! You're almost there!" I could hear my name being shouted from the sidelines, but I didn't look at anyone. I just focused on the pavement. A huge screen on the sidelines at the turn showed people running by, but I didn't even have enough energy to look up to watch myself go. Finally, the Mile 26 banner appeared. As well as an incline. self-portrait with medalJust 1/5 of a mile and a tiny hill. That 1/5 of a mile was probably the longest run I've ever had. I tried to sprint, but I have no idea if I actually was able to move any faster. As miserable and pained as I felt, I still had that stupid grin plastered to my face, and there it was: the finish line. I waved my hands in the air and sailed over the chip mats, into the waiting congratulations of the volunteers handing out medals. I had done it. I had completed the marathon.

the marathonWalking through, clutching my medal to my chest, I picked up my space-age silver heat blanket. Retrieved my bag. Got my food goodie bag and devoured the banana. The one benefit to being in the last start is I had the first baggage area and family reunion area, so while others had to walk a good mile, I was right there. As I made my way down the corridor to get to Central Park West, where the family reunion area was, I passed the not-so-happy finishers. Men and women were lying on the ground. Some were throwing up. Many were being attended to by others. "Do you know where you are?" I heard. At last I made my way out and was delighted to find Hannah, Adam, and Doodles waiting for me. We pushed through the throngs and made our way to an extremely overcrowded subway, which is where I began to not feel so good. Woozy and dizzy and a little afraid I might throw up or pass out. I was still wearing my silver blanket cape and my medal, and not caring at all what I looked like, I just held onto the subway pole and dropped my head down. It did the trick.

After a quick shower, I dressed and put my medal back on and we headed over to the Tweedle Twin's place, where I met my loyal crowd of supporters. Pizza and beer went down well and I was back at the hotel and asleep by 9. Of course, I was up again in a few hours in agonizing pain (with all the liquid I consumed, I truly needed the bathroom; my legs, however, had no intention of letting me climb out of bed, never mind walk to the bathroom or sit down).

What a blast the race was. I never understood why people would do a marathon more than once, but after that, I can see the addictive qualities. I see where I made my mistakes and I'm eager to try it again to see if I could do better. My official time--from when the starting cannon went off to when I crossed the finish line--was 5:42:42 (which was just barely below the cut-off that got my name into the New York Times marathon section). My chip or net time--from when I crossed the starting line to when I crossed the finish line--was 5:19:11, which is a 12:10 pace. Not too bad, especially if you figure in that ten of those minutes was in the bathroom line.

Marathon buzz has died down by now, but not for me. My head is still in the clouds over what I achieved. I'm choosing my outfits based on what will look good with my medal (I wore my medal this morning while cleaning the kitchen. Made the work seem much more athletic).

I've also been experiencing a bit of the blues, as all that training, all that preparation, everything building up to that one event is now done. Some who trained kept it to themselves. Not me. I told the entire world. "Oh, your child just spilled some milk? Did I mention that I'll be running my first marathon?" Now I've got nothing to say (okay, I always have something to say; but I won't have anything to say about this). I won't say that my life is without purpose--because of course it still has lots of purpose, between Adam and Doodles and my writing and my friends...--but I will say that it has lost some structure.

Was running a marathon an absolute insane thing to do? Oh yeah. Will I do it again? You betcha. Care to join me?

Wednesday, November 3

One Foot in Front of the Other

Sunday's the big day! If you're in the neighborhood, come cheer me on! If you're by your computer, you can track my splits online. My race number is 47474. Just 26.2 miles. Easy, right?

Election Wrap-Up

I don't like to discuss politics here. Politics, to me, is personal and not something that I care to share. But let me just say, I'm stunned. That's the only word for it. Stunned.

Girl Toys

A while ago, Robin asked "Do your children play with gender-specific toys?" I wrote a really long comment, which I'll repeat here. I really didn't give a lot of thought to gender specific toys, as baby toys aren't specific. True, I won't dress Doodles in pink, but other than that I don't give much thought about boy/girl in terms of activities, toys, playmates. But lately it seems that other people are making me think about it.

I'm a big into dumpster diving when it comes to toys. So many of the toys are big and plastic and will be around for Doodles great-grandkids. I see no reason for them to end up in landfill. Two of our neighbors on two separate occasions were throwing out perfectly good, perfectly wonderful toys. One was a Little Tikes truck, which I knew Doodles would love, as he absconded with a friend's when he had the opportunity. Then, just a couple of weeks later, a neighbor left a Little Tikes cube slide in the trash. I was out for my morning run, but stopped immediately when I saw it. I do feel a little self-conscious grabbing things out of the trash, so I peeked to see if my neighbor was up. I didn't see anyone, so I grabbed the climber and dragged it to our yard. As I continued the run, I saw someone coming out for the paper, so I ran back to tell them I had taken it. "Oh, there's more! Please take it." One of the toys was a plastic tricycle that Doodles is still way too young for. It's pink and purple and was definitely designed with a girl in mind. However, I keep it in the backyard and Doodles loves climbing on it and having me push him. Not my favorite game, but hey, it keeps him happy.

Then, about a month ago, someone put on an e-mail list that I'm on, an offer of a kitchen set. Whenever we went to the library, Doodles would monopolize the kitchen set there. Granted, his favorite thing to do is open and close the doors, but he is a happy camper (cooker?) at his kitchen. So I grabbed the free one for him. Oh, what a happy Doodles! Then I thought, "Perhaps Doodles would like some food and cookware for his kitchen." So I went onto ebay to look for some for him. First of all, what a rip-off. With shipping and handling, it was way too expensive. But what really irked me is that almost every single auction said something along the lines of "your little girl will love this!" or "perfect for your daughter!" Um, hello! William has a doll and Doodles likes to cook. Get over it.

here comes doodles cottontailAnd then, in my cheapness, I decided to borrow a Halloween costume for Doodles. Spending $30 for something he'd wear just once is ludicrous. So I asked around and someone offered me a bunny outfit. It was adorable. But of course, when I sent the picture to my father, his first comment was, "Doodles looks like a girl!"

So now I tell the story I told in Robin's blog:
When I was four, I was pretty much the only girl in my age group in the neighborhood. I hung with a group of boys who were slightly older than myself. There was one boy, Patrick, my age, and when we played cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians (I know, not P.C., but this was the early '70s), we had to always be the robbers or the Indians. They said it was because we didn't have guns. In retrospect, I understand it was because we were the littlest, but all I knew then was if I had a gun, I could be a cowboy. I really wanted to be a cowboy.

So I started to bug my mom. "I want a gun! I want a gun!" And my mom, being the good '60s pacifist she was, said no. Over and over she said no. I couldn't have a gun. I was so miserable. I was aching for a gun.

One day (or so I'm told; I don't remember this), I went to my mother and said, "I know why I can't have a gun!" My mother, feeling proud that I was about to deliver a speech on the danger of guns, said, "Why?" I replied, "It's because I'm a girl!"

Do I even need to tell the rest? My favorite picture of me is that Hanukkah. I'm wearing pigtails with blue ribbons. I have on a blue party dress and my Mary Janes. And I'm holding in my hands a plastic machine gun that was almost twice the size of me. Oh, it was a beautiful gun. It shot sparks and made a lovely loud noise. I guess the lesson to be learned here is feminism trumps pacificism.

And Doodles? Doodles can be a bunny, ride a pink tricycle, play in his kitchen, and whatever else he darn pleases. And if you don't like it, well, go vote for Bush. Oh, wait. I guess you already did. Um, I was just kidding. Can you take it back?