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Safety first!

Remember that I’m-fed-up-with-the-Y hissy fit I had a few months ago?  Part of suspending my membership (‘suspended’ as opposed to ‘dropped’ in case I missed it desperately and wanted to re-join without fees) (and I have yet to miss it) (at all) included a resolve to become a night time runner during the dark dark days (and evenings) of winter.  I bought a set of Knuckle Lights.  (Love.)  Arm warmers.  (Love love.)  And?  A reflective vest.  (Kind of love to hate.)

But running any time after 4 p.m. in December pretty much mandates the safety gear.  Because, as we all know, if I die a tragic early death, my motherless daughter will be SCREWED.  No way am I going to let that happen because of a little vanity…and let’s face it, “she died pretty!” was never going to go on my tombstone anyway.  So every Tuesday night found me wrestling thin bits of velcro around my midsection and (half the time) discovering I had put the thing on backwards.  Then I would trot off down the street, knuckles lit and torso reflective, on my way to meet Amy on the corner.

And OH THE MOCKING.

Seriously, do you know how many crossing guard jokes that girl can fit in to a quarter mile stretch of pavement?

I tried shaming her in to wearing one, too.  I answered her jokes with my long-imagined worst-case-scenarios: embarrassing ambulance rides where my granny panties would be discovered by attractive paramedics (admittedly, death couldn’t be swift enough in this scenario), motherless children, a potentially long stay in the ICU with my mother whispering from the bedside ‘you should have been wearing a reflective vest!’

Good old Catholic shame didn’t work, so I moved to Plan B.  I sent a text to her husband Scott.  Told him I was planning to get Amy an armband for Christmas, but she also needed a reflective vest for our evening runs, she’d actually been begging for one!  (A small lie, justifiable in the name of Safety.)  And would he pick one up for her?

And let me tell you, people.  Scott did not disappoint.  You ask him to pick up a reflective vest for his woman and he’s going to pick the best damn reflective vest on the market.

I’ll bet you he had visions of motherless children and granny panties and ambulance rides dancing in his head, too, because what showed up at my door this evening wasn’t so much a VEST as it was a STATEMENT PIECE.  It didn’t merely reflect, oh no.  It shouted to all drivers near and far KILL ME AND YOU WILL PAY.

My favorite part?  It blinks.

Yes sir.  If you can get past the large swaths of plastic neon yellow that put my shabby velcro strips to shame, you will find blinking red Christmas lights embedded both chest and back.  And?  The battery pack tucks neatly in to its own little pocket buried within The Vest of Shame, so it doesn’t migrate during your run or cause chafing.  Because that’s just the kind of thoughtful guy Scott happens to be.

I don’t know if he planted the Christmas lights himself or if Amazon graced him with this gem when he typed ‘reflective vest’ in to its search engine, but…wow.  Just wow.

So, yeah.  Okay.  I laughed a little.  (A lot.)  Might have peed my pants.  (A little.)  I would post a photo of the two of us that my aunt so graciously offered to take before we left the house, but I’m pretty sure Amy would kill me.

We set off down the street like a freak show Christmas light display, only mobile and more like a wandering circus act.

But let me tell you the best part!  All the hazards of nighttime running fell away in a blaze of blinking glory!  SUVs gave us a wide berth.  (We could see drivers laughing.)  Cars that might have once pulled too far in to an intersection before noticing a pair of mother runners at their side couldn’t exactly use the ‘oops, sorry, didn’t see you there!’ excuse.  I, for one, felt incredibly safe while running this evening.

Pretty sure Amy felt ridiculous.  But I’ll be damned if we’re checking out of this world while wearing granny panties on a Tuesday night three miler.

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Race pace, tempo, interval. Three terms for ‘just run fast’.

Tuesday night workouts are fast becoming the sessions Amy and I love to hate.  Last night wasn’t much different.  We dragged our sad, tired selves to the park at 6:30 and, as usual, Dash was the only one of our trio who hopped happily from the car and spun himself in to circles of excitement at the prospect of running.  Amy and I should probably try peeing on multiple trees during our warm-up…maybe that’s the key to boosting running enthusiasm? 

(Side note:  Dash becomes borderline psychotic at home when he senses a run might be in his near future.  He whips himself in to such a frenzy, banging everything in his path with the Tail of Death, that Amy can’t even get dressed for a run until she’s literally ready to walk out the door.  Last night, I got a photo text as I was leaving, a blurry image of Dash with socks in his mouth, and the caption ‘here’s your sock!  Please can we go now!’  It’s seriously a level of excitement that shames the both of us.)

We set off for our one-mile-ish warm up, toward the high school track.  On tap for the evening:  after a warm up, run two laps around the track at race pace, followed by one lap of recovery jogging.  Repeat three times.  Cool down.

I’m noticing, three weeks in to this plan, that interval training can be disguised as tempo runs or the term ‘run at race pace’.  I’ve done plenty of reading and flipping through dog-eared pages of TLAM, only to reach the same conclusion each time…you need to run fast.  You need to run fast, and hard, until your chest burns and, until you think you can’t go any further, and then you need to keep going for another lap, or another 30 seconds, or until your knees buckle.  

“These runs teach you to run through fatigue.”

So very true.  Tuesday evenings are dreaded only in part because they challenge or push our physical fitness.  The bigger challenge is in our mental fitness.  Because let me tell you, after one lap of a two lap race pace/interval/tempo/sprint, it’s my mind that is telling me I need to slow down, not necessarily my legs or my lungs.  My brain is crying ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU CRAZY PERSON?  SLOW.  DOWN.’  But, when pushed, my body can almost always give a little bit more.  It’s tapping in to that mental reserve that is the greatest challenge. 

We finished our four speed-up-slow-down rotations although, as usual, I was ready to quit after the first one.  I gasped out as we ‘recovered’ at a very, VERY slow trot, “you mean…we have to do…THREE. MORE. OF. THOSE?!” Amy assured me we could.  And, as usual, we felt badass and accomplished when it was finally time to walk off the track.  Happily spent, we joked that, between the two of us, we are the perfect runner…I go out fast and pull ahead in the first lap, but lose steam quickly.  Amy builds up to her speed slower but can finish faster because she hasn’t used all the gas in her tank.  We used our cool down time to slowly walk back to our cars, chatting about the upcoming Rainier to Ruston relay, stopping to let Dash sniff and pee as he chose.  

And, while I always love to check another box off the training plan hanging on my fridge, I am particularly proud to check off the Tuesday boxes. 

Decode the following:

Tuesday’s workout:

1-2 mile WU; H: 8 x 1 min in Z4; 1-2 mile CD.

Yes, that’s right.  We’ve completed week #2 in our training plan, a slightly less exhausting 7 days than the previous week, emphasis on slightly.  Tuesday was our one challenging workout, partly because it required some studying of different sections in TLAM to figure out what, exactly, we were supposed to be doing.

Hill repeats.  That’s what it basically boiled down to.  We ran about a mile and a half to warm up, arriving at one of our ‘favorite’ hills so we could run up/walk down it 8 times.  This, to me, seemed only slightly more bearable than the sprinting workout from the week before, although Amy W strongly disagreed.  We ran full bore up that hill, in Zone 4, the first time.  (Zone 4, according to TLAM, should feel “slightly less uncomfortable than a root canal”).  We walked back down.  Again.  Maybe in Zone 3.75.  Walked back down.  Again.  By Repeat #6, we were struggling.  Repeat #8 was Zone get-this-the-f**k-over-with.  

Oh.  And then we got to run 1.5 miles back to our cars.  THAT wasn’t pretty.

Amy had to give me a serious pep talk as we hobbled back to the library, where we had parked.  My legs were aching and I was hot and sweaty and uncomfortable.  My mind seemed to be the only over-active organ in my body, and NOT in a positive way.  It’s a mile and half!  THIS should be easy!  You run this all the time, why are you dragging?!

Well.  

As Amy reminded me, I was dragging because our bodies weren’t used to this level of intensity in our workouts.  I was dragging because it was 85 degrees in May in Washington.  I was dragging because I had been on my feet all day and, instead of opting for an easy 4 or 5 miles like I usually do on a Tuesday evening, I had chosen to run up and down a stupid hill over and over and over again.  

Right.

Hill repeats left my body and mind feeling spent.  I fell in to bed that night and slept like a log. (So, you see, better than interval training.  I may not have felt that fabulous runner’s high, but I also didn’t lie in my bed for hours, trying to find a comfy spot for my achy knees and hips.  Not a bad trade-off.)

So, after feeling pretty awful following our Tuesday billy-goat work out, you can see why I wasn’t super excited to arrive at Amy’s house Wednesday morning after our kids went to school.  On tap for the day was a ‘fun workout’.  We translated this to ‘easy run’, and set out for one of the local neighborhoods with long stretches of flat sidewalk.

It was the polar opposite of Tuesday’s run.  First of all, we were starting out early in the day, with overcast skies and cool temperatures.  We climbed exactly zero hills.  We ran at our normal, easy pace, very conducive to gossip and chitchat.  My legs felt light and five miles passed by quickly.  We happily ended our run with a trip to Starbucks and a sense of relief because, finally, we had gone for a run and enjoyed ourselves.

 

Dear Zoey,

Ahhh, my six year old child.

How sweet and thoughtful you are at this age.  I’m sitting here at the Y, patiently waiting for the end of your beloved gymnastics class, and watching from the corner of my eye what appears to be a mother-grandmother duo engaged in battle with several unruly/hungry/tired children.  And I’m just thinking…wow.  How lucky I am.

(Not that you haven’t BEEN that unruly/hungry/tired child in the not-so-distant past, let me be clear.  It’s just that today you’re not and I’m feeling thankful.)

Kindergarten is wrapping up and I’m reflecting on all you’ve learned and become interested in this year.  I am only half joking when I tell my friends you are destined to be my sweet little nerd.  Two hours ago I had to guide you by the shoulder through a parking lot as I balanced your latest stack of library books in my arms, because your newest Judy Moody selection just couldn’t wait until you got to the car.  In the past month, you have passed through brief but intense fascinations with the following:  our solar system, collecting state quarters, and looking at life through the small lens of a magnifying glass Gigi bought you two weeks ago.  You have an irritating habit of demanding perfect phrasing from me at all times and are quick to correct what I consider to be my few grammatical errors.  You can not seem to get enough food, EVER, and I’m certain we could wallpaper a room in our house with all the reading awards you have collected this school year.

You ask great, funny, random questions, all the time.  Mommy, wouldn’t it be great if we could see Neptune, except we can’t because it’s the farthest from the sun?  Mommy, can we go to Maine one day?  How many plane rides will it take to get there?  Mommy, do you think Gigi will trade me three state quarters for my three regular quarters?  Mommy.  Are people supposed to have a boyfriend or girlfriend?  (Yes, sure, at least two, she’ll probably give them to you, and NO.)  My favorite part of having a six year old may be that you have no filters whatsoever.  Whatever you think comes straight out your mouth.

Your patience and bike riding skills and ability to fall asleep quickly in your own bed have all improved so dramatically over the past year, it’s hard to recognize who you were at age five compared to this new, mature, grown up six year old in front of me.  And yet you are still my Goldfish-cracker-loving, hopelessly-attached-to-your-mama, please-read-to-me little Zo Bug.

I just wanted to record this snapshot of your life right now, who you are, what you love, because I’m afraid that someday I will have forgotten how delightful you were at this age.  That you will ask me your new favorite question, “tell me a story from when I was two, or five, or six”, and I won’t be able to remember.  Also, I want something down in writing to look back on one day, the day that is coming when you don’t want to share your every waking moment and thought with your mom.

 

A mother version of Interval Training

Text from Amy on Saturday:  Let’s hit Orting trail tomorrow and take kids with bikes.  Will pick you and Zoey up at 10 a.m.  We can do 8 miles.

Going for a run with the kiddos and their bikes?  Score!  Last summer this would have been a disaster with Zoey (the incident at Bradley Lake, where she caused a two-bike pileup after panicking in the path of another rider, is still fresh in my mind).  This year it feels manageable AND enjoyable.  But…eight miles?  That sounded optimistic.  (Read: crazy.)

We were on our way to the trail by 10:15 this morning, loaded down with kids and bikes and helmets and water bottles.  Gray clouds overhead were threatening rain but holding out for the time being.  We expertly avoided Spring Fair traffic, scored a front row parking spot at the trail head, and were off like a herd of turtles in no time.

The turtle pace turned out to be a major downfall.  The kids were having a GREAT time. Logan, the oldest child and quite the responsible one, rode ahead and circled back to check on the girls periodically.  But Zoey and Allison, although they were laughing and swerving and trying to catch Logan, just kept STOPPING.  Zoey racked up the most false starts, so let’s all start praying that by the end of this summer she can hop on her bike and go regardless of the precise position of her foot pedals.  Amy and I would work up to a good pace and settle in just in time to stop and help someone avoid oncoming bike traffic or adjust foot pedals or retrieve a water bottle.  

We made it 2.25 miles down the trail before Zoey and Allison started fading.  And, as Amy pointed out, unless we wanted to carry bikes back, we’d better turn around when the girls started to poop out.  It had only taken about 20 minutes to realize that our dream of an eight mile run today just wasn’t going to happen.

So what’s a mother runner to do?

Intervals.  That’s what.  Neither Amy nor I are much for speed work, but I think we were both eager to break a big sweat this morning.  And the stop-go-stop-come-on-Zoey-let’s-go! rhythm so far just wasn’t cutting it.  Bring on the sprints.

We were hardly scientific about it, but it was just what we needed. I know my running bible, Train Like a Mother, lays out specific amounts of time to sprint and how fast you should feel like you’re going, but of course neither Amy nor I have ever studied those training plans in depth.  So our speed sessions were more like ‘okay, let’s start at that patch of dirt and sprint to where the girls are’.  And I’ll be damned if those girls didn’t move like wildfire on the 2.25 miles back to the car, giving us a forever-moving end point for our lung-burning, heart-bursting sprints.  

But wow.  Interval training definitely puts a jolt in to what would have been an otherwise lackluster low-mileage run.  Instead of arriving back at the car feeling disappointed in not getting the long run I craved, I felt like I had gotten more bang for my four-mile buck.  

Now I’m ready

Well, if I was waiting for motivation to jump start my spring time running, this week has really done it for me.  

That’s right.  A stubborn roll of belly pudge (my ‘winter chub’) didn’t motivate me.  Longer days and more sunlight didn’t do it, either.  An entire week to myself last week as Zoey spent Spring Break with my mom definitely helped…but the happenings in Boston this week have truly inspired me to tie on my running shoes, get outside, and RUN.  

We all wonder what could possibly cause someone to create such devastation and destruction at the site of America’s biggest, most prestigious race.  We are all feeling sad and bewildered.  But what I love about my running community is that we are also feeling PISSED.  We are not about to be undone by some whackadoo with a religious or political point to prove.  People train their entire careers to qualify and make it to Boston.  And we will be damned if someone is going to rain on our parade.  

So get out there, runners.  Dig out your short sleeved running shirts and your running skirts.  (Okay.  It may be a little early for the skirts…but definitely find your capris.)  Find your running buddy or plug in your iPod and go.  

It’s time to run!

My 2.5 mile escape

Thursday.  I should have been at work, but had called in sick to take care of my daughter, who was on day #2 of a fever, cough, and, as of 5 a.m. Thursday morning, vomiting.  Two days at home, and I was already feeling claustrophobic.  I spent several hours following the puke parade throughout the house, alternately rubbing a tiny back and bleaching the hell out of non-porous surfaces.  But the moment I was sure she could hold down a few bites of applesauce?  I called in my grandma.  I really did need to go to the store…7-Up and saltine crackers weren’t going to magically purchase themselves and appear on my door step.  But what I really needed was to MOVE.

I promised both my daughter and my grandma I would be back in one hour.  This gave me exactly 30 minutes on the trail near my house.  Not much for time, but beggars can’t be choosers.  And it turns out it didn’t even matter.  Some days, it doesn’t matter if I do two miles or ten, because it’s all about the mental release that comes from getting outside, plugging in to my newly formed playlist, and taking off.  Clearly, 2.5 miles in 30 minutes is not setting any breakneck speed records, but as I rounded the last loop in to the parking lot to finish up, I felt like I had just completed a long-prepared-for race.  I was ready now to head back to the puke parade.

My mellow feeling stayed with me as I pulled in to the Safeway parking lot.  Good thing, too, because as I got out of the car, I happened to glance down to see a misfired snot rocket now congealed on my pant leg.  As I hastily swiped at the spot with a tissue, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty.  My short hair, unshowered as of yet, rose up in a funnel, making me look like Arsenio Hall.  I was a hot mess.  And I was going out in public.  Oh well.

As I zipped up and down the aisles of the store, grabbing supplies for my sick kid (saltines) and myself (iced americano), I passed an older man who chuckled as I passed by.  I shrugged this off, I had seen myself in the mirror!  But as I nearly left the aisle, he called after me “I love your shirt!”.  I looked down.  My short sleeved gray running top proclaimed to the world that I am a Badass Mother Runner. 

Oh yes.  I felt badass alright.  Snot on my pants, no shower, running the aisles of Safeway faster than I had run the outside trail 15 minutes before…good thing those mellow feel-good endorphins were still pumping through my body.

Sayonara, Winter! (We won’t miss you.)

Very early this year, when I flipped through the 2013 calendar and discovered Easter slated for late March, my first thought was ‘Great, another rainy egg hunt’.  So imagine my surprise last weekend when gray, gloomy skies gave way to sunshine and…wait, what is that? heat?…late Friday afternoon, and didn’t disappear until, well, today.  Nearly a full week of unanticipated sunshine!  A spring teaser!

Saturday afternoon was my first outside run of the season.  Not technically, of course, because while my running habits have been a little lame as of late, I HAVE been outside.  It’s just that Saturday was the first run that FELT like spring.  Zoey and I moved to a new house a few weeks ago, right near a great playground and running trail.  I hit the trail late in the afternoon, while Zoey played nearby with her friend.  

The weather was perfect.  Warm, but not too warm.  The trail was alternately sunny and shady, but the smell is what really told me spring is on it’s way.  You know the smell, right?  It’s hard to describe but it’s something like freshly mown grass mixed with sunshine and pavement and blooming trees and…I don’t know.  It’s a smell that says adios, indoor track at the Y, outside running is back in business.

Kindergarten can really change your life

We have survived our first month of kindergarten.

I say ‘we’ because the collective exhaustion and nervous excitement in our house is as much mine as my daughter’s.  We have launched in to the start of elementary school, a private school with an excellent academic program (read: FULL DAY KINDERGARTEN) and what is turning out to be a rigorous amount of volunteer work to be done and service projects to consider, not to mention about 50 things that must be remembered each week, such as wear red on Thursday because we’re talking about the letter R this week! and library books are due Wednesday! and by the way, come up with a  community service project for your family that you can present in poster board fashion to the entire campus by the end of October!…it’s been a little draining.  Happy, and satisfying, even…but very, very draining.

As with any shift in the family routine, you learn things about yourself, and particularly about your child, that you might not have seen before.  For instance, my daughter, my beautiful, spunky, desperately-wants-to-do-everything-right-the-first-time child, who has never slept willingly in her long five year span on this earth, now collapses willingly in to bed each night between 7:00 and 7:30.  Gone are the days when bedtime routines took an hour of my evening and I spent the small chunk of time between her bedtime and mine returning her to bed and re-tucking her in.  I now have at least an hour to myself each evening.  It feels foreign.  I have used the time to start re-watching my favorite TV show of all time, the Gilmore Girls.  Don’t mock.  I’m halfway through season one and I have season two waiting patiently in my Netflix queue.  Lorelei Gilmore is sort of my single mom role model.  One child.  Prissy private school.  Lots of coffee.  A spunky attitude that I can hopefully hang on to until my child survives adolescence…I figure there are worse people I could be looking up to.

So there’s been this shift, and some learning curves.  Apparently my child CAN sleep and I actually DO enjoy watching TV.  And oh, the joy of being in kindergarten!  That part is wonderful and all-consuming and keeps me going on the days when I realize I’m only a month in to this process and I already don’t like packing lunches.  Did you know kindergartners at Zoey’s school get three recesses?  And that one of them, the one before lunch, is LONGER than any recess they ever got in Pre-K?  It’s a joy my child revels in each and every day.  The opportunity to spend long stretches of time on the impressive playground equipment at her school brings her nothing but happiness.  The after-school program that initially struck fear in Zoey’s heart has actually brought us full circle, which is to say that if I surprise her and pick her up early, before after-school care, there is foot-stomping and feeling mad and making Mom feel like a total loser.  I remember this from last year.  If I dared to pick her up early, before outside-time, there was hell to pay.  She’s happy in after-school care.  If I had her darling teacher, Miss Megan, to paint my face and create owls from card stock and bake scones with me, every day from 3:15-5:00,  I’d be pissed if someone picked me up early too.  I need to start remembering this.  Next time I get off work early, I’m creating my own grown-up version of after-school care, and I’m going to call it NAP TIME.

Because DAMN AM I TIRED.

Single parenting is no small task, people.  Well.  Single parenting THE RIGHT WAY is no easy task.  And I don’t mean to sound all perfectionist here, but we all acknowledge on some level that there is a basic right and wrong way to parent children in the year 2012.  Sitting on your couch all day and smoking cigarette while you watch horrible daytime programming, and forget to pick up your child from school?  Wrong.  Forgetting that Friday is school spirit day and you have to wear Cascade Christian something-or-other?  Also wrong.  It’s a large spectrum, I’ll give you that, but I don’t intend to fall anywhere on it.  I have always been this way and I probably won’t change.  (You can reference the above paragraph, in which I point out that Zoey is trying desperately hard to do everything right in kindergarten, to the point that she comes home exhausted every day, and go ahead and wonder where that comes from.)  The problem, when you’re a single parent and elementary school routines smack you in the face, is that you don’t really have another grown up in your house to rely on, to pick up the slack.  Not that Bryan would have been one to remember that the Phone-a-Thon is coming up and the school wants volunteers, or that childcare needs to be arranged for the days in November when Zoey doesn’t have school, or that our daughter takes show and tell to school every Monday and the stakes are higher now, you can’t just bring anything you want like those babies back in Pre-K, IT HAS TO START WITH THE LETTER OF THE WEEK, but he WAS, back in the days before he was a drug addict, one who could remember that Friday was trash day or that the cars needed oil changes or the damn cat puked on the bed again and everything needs to be thrown in the wash.  He used to be a guy who enjoyed starting dinner if he got home first.  He enjoyed the whole bath time routine that I, personally, can’t stand.  There is supposed to be someone else here, someone just as invested in this whole educating-a-child as I am.   When Zoey collapses in a puddle of emotional tears for the 17th night in a row, the signal that it must be 7 p.m., there is supposed to be someone here that I can occasionally wave at and smile as I yell ‘have fun with that, I’m going to Target’.

At this point, I can’t even get him to arrange weekend visitation by Wednesday.

Being divorced, and a single parent, just adds an extra layer of grief and stress to the normal shifting of life.  There are all the joys (playgrounds! solving the Mystery Animal clues every Thursday!) and the heartache (nobody wanted to play with me today because I’m too bossy! My name didn’t get called at Assembly and I really wanted to go up on stage because I won a 3-R award in my class!) and, of course, the Remembering 50 Things All At Once.  (Box Tops.  Box Tops, people…you know those little squares on certain food and paper items that you can cut out and send in to your school for money, the little squares that I’ve spent my entire adult life paying no mind to?  I just remembered I need you to start cutting those out and saving them for me.)  And along with all of these things, these very important and normal life-changing THINGS, the voice in the back of your single parent head, the voice who normally stays in her corner like she’s supposed to, rears her ugly head and reminds you ‘there is supposed to be somebody else here’.

I don’t know if the voice ever goes away.  Maybe she does, years and years down the road, when your child is grown and gone and you aren’t really faced any more with the day-to-day tasks that overwhelm you and leave you wishing for someone to back you up.  Maybe the voice sorts herself out when the days of wondering if he’ll even want to visit with his child this weekend are long gone.  I think she’ll find her place in my head eventually, and calm down already, maybe when Zoey is grown and doing well.  Maybe.  I hope.

And, until then, I have about 50 things on my weekend to-do list, starting with Kindergarten Homework, and a weekly newsletter I need to read so I can compose my list for the week of 50 Things to Remember.

The 13.1 that we totally rocked

You can go back and read my post from a couple weeks ago, the one in which I worry and fret that I won’t make it across the finish line in one piece at the You Go Girl! half marathon, and completely disregard it.

The three of us running buddies, in matching Badass Mother Runner shirts, totally blew this race out of the water.  It was awesome.

I think I was right (man, it feels good to say that!)–the combination of race-day adrenaline and a primarily downhill course helped Amy and I cross the finish line in 2 hours 12 minutes.  For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a full 13 minutes faster than we ran last year.  And Carrie?  Our resident firecracker, Ms. I Mean Business, So Get Out of My Way?  She crossed the finish line in 2 hours 2 minutes!

It was a beautiful day for a race: clear skies, cool temps when we crossed the start line at 8:45.  Having done the race before helped me mentally keep score of where we were at, and how far we had to go.  For instance, I used the first out-and-back as my warm up, telling myself I’d be set to go by the second leg of the race, as we wound our way up to Wright Park in Tacoma.  The third section of the race was the biggest mental challenge, although it was also the prettiest part of the course.  We had gorgeous views of the waterfront and the sun on our backs as we ran down Ruston Way, but at the turnaround point (mile 9.5), the sun was full in our (already warm) faces and we still had the biggest physical challenge left to tackle…the last three miles.

Amy and I, normally both chatty during training runs, were unusually quiet during most of the race.  The last section of the course, back on Ruston Way and up over a hill (such a little hill!) to round the final curve to the finish line, left us whispering to each other ‘just a little more’ and ‘we’re almost there’.  The best part of the run, by far, was the last half a mile, when we saw Amy’s family first, and then…just as I was about to come around that last turn to the finish, I could hear a familiar voice chanting ‘Go Mama!  Go Mama!  Go Mama!’  And then, there she was!  Right before the finish line, I saw Zoey with my aunt Cindy, grins on their faces, holding a great sign proclaiming GO MOMMY! with awesome illustrations of me running and Zoey cheering.

And then?  I looked up and saw our time.  I remember yelling ‘holy sh*t, Amy, look at our time!’ just as she was yelling at me ‘come on, strong finish!’  We sprinted across the finish line together and we felt great.  We found Carrie and posed for group photos.  We shared post-race water and snacks with our kids.  We stood around soaking up our Badass Mother Runner-ness for just a little bit.

So there you have it.  We met our goals.  We trained hard for this race and we felt great afterwards.  My daughter got to see me cross a finish line and I have to believe that somewhere in her young, developing brain, this is leaving a lasting impression on her.  I went home that day and, instead of wanting to collapse, I took Zoey to a play date at her friend’s house.  I swept my floors and finished laundry and shuttled Zoey off to bed at a reasonable hour.  (Full disclosure:  I did not cook dinner.  Cindy suggested we come to dinner at her house and I eagerly took her up on this before the offer was fully out of her mouth.)  This, the rest of my Sunday, in my mind, was the greatest victory.  I ran 13.1 miles like it was any other weekend run.

And now we set our sights on the next half, coming up the first weekend in October…