I have decided this week that running timed races is good for my fitness motivation, but bad for me mentally. (So, of course, I have already identified half marathon #3.)
It has been one week since my friend Jessica and I finished the LA Marathon at a very competent pace given five porta-potty breaks between us, sub-optimal training conditions for me and the fact that neither of us is what you would traditionally call “athletic.” Despite unplanned-for hills and temperatures that topped out at 87 degrees, we did it! I am so stinking proud of us for committing and following through, and together we raised almost $2000 for Angel City Pit Bulls in the process. Go us!
Each time someone asks me how the race went, I am more and more bummed about my own performance. (Jessica remains a total superstar in all tellings, as she should.) I bemoan the fact that I wanted to shave time off my last half marathon, but couldn’t thanks to the Polar Vortex. I bitch about the blisters I was plagued with throughout training, and which reappeared around mile six. I talk about the toenail I was convinced would fall off – it’s looking much better now – and mention that the temperature at 6AM on race day was 60 degrees hotter than my last outside training run.
All these things are true, but they shouldn’t make me dismiss the fact that I ran all those miles. Or that it’s my second finished half marathon. Or that I will live to run again and again and again if I so choose.
The problem is that I am an overachiever and I am incredibly hard on myself. To wit: what kind of person would think it was smart to sign up for this race in the first place, given the million other things I had to do at the end of last year? What kind of person would think it would be easy to train for a race whilst heading into a place known for terribly cold winters, when said person had spent 12 years in the warm(ish) cocoon of Northern California? This girl! That’s who. The same girl who’ll beat herself up for not doing as well as she had hoped, even though 60 days of her 12 weeks of training were below zero and her dog was having a meltdown and she was learning to be a stepmom and starting a new job and making a new life with a new man in a new house in a new state.
Geez. That girl needs to give herself a freaking break already. And I totally will! Just as soon as I shave half an hour off my next half marathon in August.
Kidding! (Not really.)
I posted a picture similar to this one on Instagram the day it was taken and confused a lot of people At the race expo, there was this giant wall with all the runners’ names printed on it. Since my last name starts with a “zw” I was third from last all the way at the end and down at the bottom – people on Instagram thought I finished the race third from last, and left encouraging comments. The bottoms of the letters are even cut off! That part is kind of a bummer, but it was a thrill to see our names on the wall.
No race is complete without a pre-race selfie. Not too shabby for waking up at 4:45AM! I’m wearing a bit ‘o swag purchased at the race expo the day before. First, a glittery headband from bicbands. I gave this company a shoutout on Twitter, but I’ll do it here too because it’s so worth it. This headband stayed on my head from just before this picture was taken until I took a shower at about 1PM. The last headband I bought popped off my head five minutes after I put it in place, as has every other headband I have ever bought. Bicbands was my race-day hero, and I will never run without one again. Second piece of swag: shoe charms from Beecause. One is a pink heart with a “J” for Joel, and the other is a heart with a paw print for the pit bulls. Shoe charms are totally cheesy, but made Jessica and I both super happy.
I debated about posting this picture, because it is so super unflattering, but you know what? Running 13 miles isn’t pretty. Joel met me just after mile 9, when I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to go any farther due to the blisters on my left foot. I had just pulled out my phone to text him my location when I saw him up ahead and trotted over for a hug. I ended up stopping a mile later for my last porta-potty break, chugged two cups of water, accepted three twizzlers from a stranger, and had enough energy to finish.
I’m pretty sure this photo was taken by my friend Shana’s step-dad Steve. As I pulled away from the main race course and began running down the relay exchange chute, Jessica popped out of nowhere and grabbed my hand. I was so happy to see her! We’ll call this the passing of the proverbial baton.
Joel took this shot, and even though it’s similar to the one above, I’m including it because Jessica was giving me a pep talk. “I know it hurts, but you’re amazing and you’re almost finished and there’s a medical tent up ahead. You will get your medal, and then you can go straight to the medical tent.” Clearly, Joel had told them about my crippling Blisters of Doom. I did not go to the medical tent – I had plenty of blister-fighting things back at the hotel – but I will always be grateful to Jessica for holding my hand those last few feet.
The medal for the LA Marathon charity relay was different than the one the regular marathoners got, but Jessica and I both liked the old-school bronze stylings of ours. It has another fun feature, which we’ll get to in a minute.
Joel took this pic and the one that follows on the balcony of our room at The Standard on Sunset in Hollywood, which overlooked the pool and all sorts of douchey shenanigans during the two days we were there. Oh, the scene! So not MY scene, if you know what I’m saying. But look at this sweet sign! Jessica’s wife and my darling friend Shana made it, and her parents Leslie and Steve and our old friend Jamie (AKA Team Ponies) were all at the finish line waiting with congratulations and hugs. A girl should only be so lucky to have a cheerleading team like this one.
Double-sided sign! As I write this, Cooper is snoring at the foot of my bed. Without Coop and Huck, I never would have taken up running in earnest and would probably spend my days locked in my room reading books just like I did when I was an asthmatic kid/teen/20-something. Without Cooper (and Jessica), I never would have signed up for the LA Marathon to run on behalf of Angel City Pit Bulls. Pets change lives, people. For real.
Look at our fun medals! The LA Marathon charity relay medals lock together to form a pair of shoes. So adorable. Also adorable: the sparkly tiaras and beads and scarves bestowed on us by Team Ponies. (Note that I am wearing – and sweating profusely in – a 1960s Lilli Diamond halter dress. I clearly did an awesome job of packing. Goes great with my FitBit, yeah?)
One more pic of us being pretty, pretty marathon princesses. Apparently, this unikitty sign was so popular that runners were peeling off the course to have their photo taken with it. I should also point out that this is my real smile, seldom seen because I have always worried about having big teeth. Lately, I’ve been trying to say to hell with all that, and not worry about looking perfectly pulled together in photos. Normally, I have a very composed smirk. Even my driver’s license!
As of now, I’m planning to run another half marathon in August, one that almost literally goes through my backyard. I think I’ve convinced Joel to run the same race, though he’s a total speed demon so we won’t be able to run it together. I’m mulling over joining a running club, too, to help with training. Not a crazy hardcore group, mind you, but a group with a running coach who can perhaps help me a bit with speed. If I could just run a two-hour half, I think I could die happy.
I might just die trying!