Monday, December 17, 2012

Anniversary and reflection

One year ago today, my oldest brother passed away.

I started this blog days ago. I have written and deleted several paragraphs, and mentally composed and rejected countless more. Even though they were heartfelt thoughts, they seemed trite--the kinds of things that everyone says at times like these. Not that they aren't good, but I'm sure someone has said it better than I could have.

So rather than writing a put-together article with a common theme and logical flow that nicely ties the end in with the beginning (as I often like to do), I'm just going to share a mish-mash of thoughts.

A year ago I re-learned that I throw myself into activity when I'm upset. Other ladies eat chocolate; I clean. Some people rant; I go for a run. But I found out that grief still manages to sneak around the most manic-activity self-control. I held it together for three weeks, until the slideshow before the funeral started. Then I cried. And we're not talking delicate sniffling. We're talking full-on, give-me-that-whole-box-of-Kleenex, so-much-for-eye-makeup bawling. And it was good for me. Sometimes you just need to commandeer a box of Kleenex and let it out. Sadness is part of the human experience as much as happiness, and if you try to avoid all pain or sorrow, then I don't think you can truly have happiness and joy.

I know people are often plagued with "what ifs" or the "if onlys." It's okay to think about those--in moderation. It's the "if onlys" that help you do better next time, and the "what ifs" can motivate you to go beyond your comfort zone. Where it is not good is when you wallow in it like a pig in the mud.

Show those you love that you care--often. I usually show I care by doing things for people or letting them know that I'm thinking of them rather than saying, "I love you." But not everyone speaks my love language, so I'm trying to expand my affection "vocabulary." If people know that you care, then you will have comfort rather than regret if something does happen. But don't get obsessive about it, either.

Above all, let's be a little more kind to each other. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Let someone go ahead of you in line, or refrain from calling someone an unkind name. Think for a second before you tweet, facebook, or email when you're grumpy. A little more love, charity, and decency will go a long way.

I am thankful for the gift of life that I enjoy, and for a spiritual anchor, which I think the world needs more than ever. I am grateful for the wonderful people in my life, and if I hold open a door or help carry in your groceries or ask about your family or send you an email/message/text, then know that it translates as "I care about you."

And for my brother, Chris (far right), I look forward to seeing you again one day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Boston Marathon Report

So, a week ago I ran in this little race called the Boston Marathon. I promised details, so here you go.

Before I really start, let me clarify that the Boston Marathon isn't just a race, it is a 26.2-mile-long party--and I'm not kidding. I felt like I was running along a parade route. Spectators lined both sides from start to finish, and there was music blasting, live bands, a couple of drum lines, dozens of neighborhood parties, signs, bounce houses, horns, megaphones, whistles, balloons, cheering, clapping, people spraying the runners with garden hoses and handing out oranges, water, popsicles, ice, etc. I had my iPod, but half the time I couldn't even hear my music over the cheering crowd; hundreds of thousands of people watched the race. It was unreal.

The checklist:
Awesome vacation with the family in NYC and then Boston, where we used almost every transportation method available (plane, taxi, foot, subway, bus, shuttle, train, amphibious vehicle). Check.

Increasingly nervous checking of the Boston weather forecast as every day the predicted temperature got higher. Check.

Email from Boston Athletic Association informing participants that the heat would be in the red zone, and they strongly encouraged participants not to run if we: undertrained, were only used to cool weather, had several underlying conditions, were not extremely fit, were sick in any way, etc. Check.

Second email from Boston Athletic Association reiterating that it’s going to be incredibly hot (mid to upper 80s) and if you can say yes to any of the listed situations, you should not run. And they really mean it. Check.

Third email from Boston Athletic Association telling us again (in case we missed the first two emails) that it’s going to be very hot, and if we do decide to run to understand that this race is not one for personal records and that it will be imperative to adjust accordingly, i.e. hydrate well and slow down. To quote the email: “Speed kills.” Check.

Call out to friends online for good vibes because at this point I’m getting nervous. Check.

Overwhelming encouragement and support from the best friends in the world. (Thank You!!) Check.

Carb loading because I dragged my family out for the race, and I’m completing it, Dangit, even if I have to walk the thing. Check.

Revise race goal to finishing in under four hours and not needing medical attention. Check.

Getting up at 4:45 a.m. on race day, and tiptoeing around hotel room to get ready. Check.

Catch a ride at 5:30 a.m. to the subway station with fellow runner and his wife (thanks nice couple from upstate New York whose names I can’t remember) so I don’t have to pay for a taxi. Check.

Ride the subway downtown and read newspaper left on the seat with a front page picture of 2nd place woman’s overall winner last year collapsed across the finish line and in need of medical help. The article speculated about the medical attention that will be needed for this year’s race. Check.

New onslaught of nerves. Thanks a lot, newspaper. Check.

Follow the crowd out of the subway and see the line of school buses stretching as far as I can see to shuttle runners to the start line. Check.

Getting on the bus and sharing a seat with a really nice woman named Janet, who shared the elevator-pitch story of her life (born and raised in Alaska, moved to Boston, then to upstate New York, has two kids, this is 2nd Boston), Boston Marathon tips, and her SPF 50 sunscreen. Check.

And it was on the bus to the start when I realized that I was going to experience something a little different. You see, we had a police escort. The police shut down the freeway to allow us to get to the start, and then opened it back up again after the buses passed through. That was a first.

We unloaded at the Athlete's Village in Hopkinton, which is the whole campus of the town's junior high and high school, with an unreal number of port-o-johns (isn't that so East coast?) lining the perimeter, some really large tents, and an announcer playing music, telling jokes, and directing race traffic next to the jumbo screen.


The people kept coming, along with some costumes (dear person wearing the large Elmo head, I hope you didn't end up in the hospital), the large banners, and the lines to the port-o-johns. It's a good thing the waiting area is so nice, because you're there for a long time. Eventually, like cattle being herded into a chute, 20,000 of us dropped our stuff off in the buses that would be waiting at the finish line and filed into the road lined by metal barricades. That's where I saw my first spectators.

We kept shuffling toward the start line, and eventually got there. This is what it looked like almost 2/10 of a mile from the start.

And at this point I could hear music and a commentator. Spectators lined both sides of the street, cheering and whistling and blowing horns and clapping and making noise. It was a great send off. And the cheering and spectators lasted the entire race. 

The first two miles were hot hot. As in, "Oh my gosh, are you serious?" hot. After that, I think I got used to the heat--or at least my body realized that we were seriously going to run 26 miles in it (the highest recorded temperature along the course was 89 degrees). I drank water and Gatorade at every water station, and settled in to enjoy the experience.

I have to give a big shout out to the 10-year-old girls in Newton who were the first to give me ice and to the Buddha guy who was handing out orange slices. A big thank you to the firefighters who opened a fire hydrant, and to all the spectators who sprayed us with water.

I missed the hubby's text saying where to look for him, the kids, and our friends from New York who drove over for the race, so we missed each other at mile 6. They did, however, get to see the Elite Men group run by.

They waited at mile 17, anxiously looking for me...

And here I come (completely oblivious).

Here's my hubby, running out in the throng to get my attention.
And jogging backward to take a picture.
"Oh, Hi! I know you."
And pausing for a pic with my favorite cheerleaders.

Then they loaded up on a free BBQ, and collected free pom poms, clappers, cowbells, and a jump rope. (Remember at the beginning when I said it was a party?)

Meanwhile, I continued on my way to Heartbreak Hill and beyond. Heartbreak Hill isn't that bad, not when you run the hills around my house. But it comes at mile 20, so you're pretty tired by that point. I think I passed more people on that hill than the rest of the course. The spectators just got thicker as we got closer to the Finish line, and at the end you round a corner and go down a block past a massive church like this one.

Wait. It might even be this one. I can't really remember, because after 20+ miles, your brain doesn't work that well, honestly. I couldn't even do more than the most basic math at that point. Example of typical thought process: Let's see, I'm at 24.5 miles so that means I have... um... Two miles. Wait, less than two miles. Oh look, she has a pink tutu on. That's gotta itch. Anyway, one mile and... *looking at Garmin* Crap, now it's 24.7 miles. So that means one mile and... something to go. I can do that.

Then you turn another corner and all of a sudden you are hit with this wall of sound and people lined up on either side in every available space and in front of you is the giant blue and yellow arch that declares FINISH. Just a side note, to get in the bleachers at the finish you have to have a ticket, and to get within a few blocks of it, people camp out overnight. I'm serious.) So I start to sprint (I can't believe I could sprint still) and make it across the finish line. A line of orange-jacket-clad volunteers cheer me on, and I step aside to pull my phone out of my fuel belt with fumbling fingers (because your fine motor coordination is only working marginally better than your math skills) and turn to take a pic. A nice volunteer asks if I'd like him to take one of me and I probably alarmed him with my effusive thanks.

I am so happy! I did it!
3 hrs. 54 min. 13 sec.
And no medical attention required!

 (Unlike the dozens of people getting wheeled away on wheelchairs and puking lemon-lime Gatorade on the curb. It will be a really long time before I can drink that flavor again.)

Fifteen or twenty minutes later, my husband calls and they finally made it to the finish by subway. I literally outran them. We meet up and I get a "good job" hug.

You see the look on my face in the next pic? You can tell I was still suffering Marathon Brain.

And here we are sharing stories with the runner on the ground--who couldn't exactly get up. (Marathon tip: don't get on the ground right after the race, unless you plan on staying there for a while. Getting up is a challenge.)

For those who like statistics, I finished 7329 overall out of 21554, 1882 out of 8966 women, and 1364 out of 4580 in my division. That's not too shabby. :) The volunteers were great, the crowd was ah-maz-ing, and it was a total blast! I would definitely do it again. I have to thank all the friends and neighbors who talked me into running the race. I thought of you all during that 26 miles of heat, and the encouragement from everyone helped keep me going.

And here's the fancy finisher medal, which is hanging in a prominent place in my room. I earned that puppy. I might just give it a name and sleep with it under my pillow.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How the summer started

It's been an interesting summer, that's for sure.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hysterical Baby Laughing

It's been a sobering day, with all the news coming out of Japan. I don't know about you, but I welcomed a bit of laughter. I dare you not to laugh, too.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to get back on the family blog train. This post will get me started. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New York trip, Part 2

(alternate title) The State of New York Needs to Get a Clue on Street Signs

After starting off in Woodstock it was time for us to follow the race directions through the backwoods of upstate New York to where we would exchange with the first van and start our runs. We had an iPhone with GPS, we had our course directions, so we were good to go. Or so we thought.

The first turn out of Woodstock is when we realized that New York needed some help with their street signs. The directions read like this:

Depart exchange going south on CR-27A/CR-33. Ummm, how exactly is one street two separate County Roads?

Or maybe Turn right onto SR 212/Tinker Street. State road number and street name. Got it. Except the street sign to this particular road didn't read EITHER SR 212 or Tinker Street.

Then there was our favorite like Turn left onto CR-40/SR-28/Wittenburg Road. Yep, you've got it: 3 different street names for the same street. Aaaand usually none of them were on an actual sign that might just help 6 people from across the country navigate their way.

By the time we reached the first major exchange, we were all quite put out at New York streets. I guess they just gave up after labeling streets in New York City and decided to let the rest of the state fend for itself. But we made it, eventually, to the Mountain Valley Resort. And we know it was a resort because the sign said so.

(These photos have not been doctored in any way. I swear.)

Here's the obligatory "Awww, aren't we cute standing together in the New York Catskills?" picture.

Jason was first up in our van, and he was raring to go. (As you can see.)

As were these guys.

This girl (nicknamed Rainbow Brite) became the nemesis of one of our team members. At times it was his vow to never get passed by Rainbow Brite that kept him going.

Jason had a beautiful run, and he started off strong...

Then progressed to "Holy Crap it's freaking hot out here and the humidity is killer!"

Don't worry, dear teammate, we shall cheer you on from our air conditioned Secret Service Suburban.
We shall cheer you constantly, we shall remain vigilant and offer you plenty of fluids, we shall not rest-- Oh, look! The most picturesque cemetery we've ever seen! We must run across the meadow and take pictures.

Oops, there goes Jason while we gawked. Back to the car!

Jason made it, declared that it had been no fun, and then showed off his new blisters. (Don't worry, we will have pictures in a later post.) He took advantage of a nearby stream to cool off his newly-blistered feet.

The others all ran their first legs (we'll skim past them, because it's not their blogs) until it was my turn and due to construction and a detour, we almost didn't make it in time. But I threw on my stuff and was outta there.

I wish I could claim sleep deprivation at this point, but I have to be honest; it was plain silliness.

And apparently it was catching.

Whew! 1/3 of the way done.

Now to find some food in the town of New Palz, where several restaurants informed us they were out of food (Yikes!) and I felt left out because I didn't have dreadlocks. (Yes, there were that many people with dreadlocks.)

Well, that's enough for this post. Soon I'll put up Part 3 of our NY trip. (Isn't it just like sitting through your neighbor's vacation slides? No, you can't leave yet. *locking and barring the door*)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New York trip, Part 1 (3 months later)

I'm a little late (ok, 3 months late) in sharing about the little jaunt the hubby and I took to New York. Things are calm for the moment in the Theler House of Chaos, so I thought I'd try and get caught up. (Oh, the pressure! I must be witty to make up for my many months of neglect. *stress*)

Drum Roll...

Our Trip to New York

The main excuse reason we planned the trip was to run in the New York Ragnar relay race. We even talked four other friends into going with us. The race began at Woodstock and ended some 180+ miles in Yonkers. As a bonus, the race was close to where Jason spent his high school years, and so he wanted to visit the area and people. So here's the photo montage of Jason reminiscing about where he grew up.

*sigh* The bridges...

*sigh* The house where he used to live, complete with the basketball hoop of many fond memories. The house was actually up for sale.
Sorry, sweetie. Don't even think it.

*sigh* The endless photos of the woods.

Explanation: I needed pictures to help me out with the setting of my Enchanted Forest. Forgive me if we have, ahem, almost as many photos of the forest as of the race. Tell me you don't feel "Enchanted Forest" immediately from these pictures. Okay, I plead temporary insanity from so much green vegetation. We don't have a lot of that where I live.

We enjoyed our visit with the wonderful Morgan family who let us invade their home and take over their van for a day as we drove all over creation. This is also when we fell in love with GPS, or else we might still be lost.

Next was the race. We made it to Woodstock, with its small town feel and plethora of little tie dye shops. At the starting line we met the other half of our team, a bunch of really neat people who hailed from all over: New Jersey, England, Texas, and Los Angeles.

Here's the required team pic.

Trust me when I say both halves of the team were relieved that the other half was normal. Because there were several other teams there that were a whole lot more...colorful.

You can see our intrepid team captain in the center, with the number 4. You may also notice some of the more colorful runners, like 136 on the left sporting a fedex box on his head, or 167 on the right with yellow tights and a mask, or the guy in the grass skirt next to him.

This is just a random photo that serves as a great case for not taking pictures inside a neon orange tent.

This is also a great place to end this post so it doesn't get too long.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the 3 part series of "Our New York Trip." Next will be Part 2, or "The State of New York Really Needs to Get a Clue on Street Signs."