A Year of Reflections: Things I want you to Know about Me Now that I have Lost my Dad

I have put a lot of thought into this and the concept, although not new, could be helpful to others looking to verbalize their thoughts. I lost my dad almost a year ago, now. It was sudden and it sucked. This was very hard but it should not minimize anyone who lost their parents due to sickness — that is hard to watch as they slowly dwindle and the light you knew inside of them slowly goes out — my heart goes out to you. Seriously. Maybe we will be able to commiserate on some of the thoughts I am going to share…

Me, wearing my dad's hat, logging him off of his Mac for the final time #symbolic

Me, wearing my dad’s hat, logging him off of his Mac for the final time #symbolic

The pic above was taken July 4th, 2014, the day before my dad died. I was back at my parents’ condo/timeshare at the beach, packing up my mom and dad’s things, as my mom asked me to (she, Ben and my aunt were all still at the hospital — Jess, Jerid and I were packing things up) and I was in charge of electronics for the most part. So I started making sure we had everything and I went to my pop’s laptop, which he, ironically, never let me touch EVER and shut it down. The bottom line, “Log out Joel Goodman” seemed symbolic since at this point, pop’s heart was already failing him… needless to say, it was a rough weekend.

As this other post said: Do not try and understand. Unless you have lost a parent, you can’t (and no, a grandparent is NOT the same, unless that grandparent raised you like a parent would — believe me, I know. I lost all four of my grandparents by 2008 in addition to my father last year and several other very close people who are near and dear to my heart), and you don’t really want to, trust me on this. I do not wish this pain on anyone. 

Do not, and I mean do NOT, complain to me about your parents. It will not go over well. Your parents are a gift. They gave you life. They might suck from time to time or may have sucked the whole time you knew them, but if you can still pick up the phone and call them, then you should do it. What this means, let me break it down: there are some people I know who complain about having a weird relationship with their parents but dont want to make time to call, visit themor change it in anyway. There are some people who complain to me about having to spend time with their parents when they would rather be doing x y or z…. your parents love you, bottom line. They want the best for you and you complaining to me when you can still go see them, makes me cringe because I cannot go and see my dad anymore. I take the time to speak with my mom regularly, ok… daily… and it is worth it to me. 

My mom and me at the 2014 Jimmy Buffett concert

My mom and me at the 2014 Jimmy Buffett concert

Which brings me to my next point: tell your parents you love them as much as you can, because no matter how much you tell them, it will never be enough. Once they are gone, you will understand, even if you told them every day and held their hand as they left this world, it still feels like it is not enough. I know that no matter how many times I took an opportunity to tell my dad I loved him, it was never enough…. so I say it as often as I can to my mom and even to my brother… and if you know the interesting relationship Ben and I have, then you know this is a big development — we aren’t a touchy-feely family.

Father’s day sucks. Their birthday sucks (for me, february). Their death day sucks (July). Holidays suck. Hell, most days suck. Because I can’t randomly call my dad anymore. My mom has tried her best to fill the spot pop left and for the most part while she has done her best, no one can replace the hole he left. Don’t get me wrong, my mom is awesome! She has a place, a large place in my life. She is my mom, one and only, she just isn’t my dad. Which goes back to my earlier point and a point I made on facebook on father’s day. Your parents made you who you are, genetically, morally, and all other ways. They shaped and molded the base you that is in front of us today. They deserve more recognition than just one day a year or two (father’s/mother’s day and their birthday). They are epic human beings for putting up with your shit for the last several decades. Let’s be real. I was a douchebag in college and for a few years beyond. My parents still put up with me.  Just like your still put up with you.

And yknow what, sometimes I am angry. I am angry when people act like it is another day, when people act like it is all ok, and sometimes I am angry for no reason at all. Does the pain dull over time? Maybe but I am most definitely not there yet and it all comes in waves. I have mostly been able to move forward in life, in work, and in general, but there are days where it all really gets me. The morning of father’s day, after reading numerous “My father is the best, Happy Father’s Day” posts, I wrote this:

I read a lot about dads but often only on Father’s Day, which is somewhat unfortunate. Don’t get me wrong, dads and moms deserve to be recognized but as we age, we should take more than a day to thank them for all they have done for us.

I lost my dad and it blows.

So take some time to spend with your dad (and your mom) today and every day because (as morbid as it sounds) you may not have them around forever. But celebrate them while they are here and tell them how much youappreciate, love, care, and respect them for all they have done to make you the human you are today.

Happy Father’s Day, to every dad of all kinds.

However, the post was edited and reedited before being posted, because when I wrote it, I was angry. Angry that people who still have their dads don’t realize how lucky they are except a handful of days a year and the rest of the time, take their dads for granted. I was angry that my dad is gone. I was angry that it hurts to make a post about my dad now. I am just angry. I am working on it. I went through a lot of healing to get to where I am at now. Now, I keep the anger in…. it is no longer right at the surface and I am no longer ready to pounce for insensitivity. 

I will say that with the dulling of the anger, also came a dulling of the continuous hurt… now it just hurts in waves, when I see something that triggers a memory or something similar. For example, INKnBURN made a tuxedo shirt that my dad would have LOVED — I know he would have loved it. He had one that was not in tech tee form and we discussed burying him in it… seriously. We did. hehe 

Almost a year ago, we were canceling our annual fourth of July party and heading down to VA beach because my dad had had an accident. (and when I say annual, i mean EVERY year, giant blowout) We decided not to have the party this year. My husband’s and my heart just aren’t in it… it is hard to feel joy and happiness and excitement when so much pain occurred just a short time ago.

My dad will never get to see his grandchildren… of course we will tell them about him but he will never get to teach them the life long lessons that have stuck with me so thoroughly. Lessons about competition with other and yourself, ambition, intelligence, learning… the list goes on. The competition that was bred into my brother and i (we are 14 months apart… he is older) fed into the ambition and drive that I developed as an adult… could not have been a coincidence. heh. My mom and I actually sat and had a discussion about this the other day. 

But I digress….

My dad meant so much to so many people and now when I have memories come up, they are happy, albeit still tear-filled, they include laughter now as well instead of my excusing myself and going to a room alone and bawling. My husband has worked with me through a lot of this stuff. My dad’s death hit him hard as well. My dad really touched so many people. I remember on the fourth last year, my buddy Ivan called me to tell me that he was so upset because of the loss of my dad and he had just gotten engaged. I told him to stop because he was supposed to be happy right now and that the news of his engagement was the best news I had all weekend. Point being, in ultimate sadness, another reflection I have been able to look back on, is that my family and I are truly blessed. We have made some amazing friends (who are really more like family), who really came together to help us in this time of such terrible and epic loss. Even months after the fact, a lot of my friends are still willing to listen to me whine about the effects my father’s death has had on me. 

While I know I have not achieved all of the things that I think would really make him puff his chest out in pride, I know I have still done him proud. When I worked at NASA (and my brother did and does still work with NASA as a Science geek), he would walk around saying my kids work at NASA… WHAT? and when I was at the Smithsonian, he would come see me at work, but it was secretly to go to the butterfly garden. If he could see me now, as a software enginerd at Fish and Wildlife Refuges, he would use every excuse to go to all of the refuges :-) . He really cared about all people. He took my husband on photography trips with him and taught Jerid a lot about photography and many many other gadgets. He inspired and guided my friends on life decisions and was always willing to help where he could. <sigh> I may never actually live up to the high standards my pop set but I am certainly going to try my ass off to do so. And I just hope that Jerid and I can instill half of the lessons my dad (and mom) instilled in me and my brother as we were growing up. 

me and my pop watching the Argentina world cup game in June 2014

me and my pop watching the Argentina world cup game in June 2014

I will leave you all with this final thought: losing a parent is a terrible loss, but everything is a learning experience. If we are lucky, we have/had someone we could learn from throughout our lives; however, even those where there is no love lost, remember that in death, we can all learn something from those we have lost as well as the lives they lived. :-)

What a long strange trip it’s been…

This post may seem a little disjointed but my thoughts are a little scattered these days as a lot of things have happened recently that are a little overwhelming.

As you all may remember, in Feb of 2013, I opted to leave the NASA and move over to the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian and I have had some good times. We have known each other for a really long time. My mom and dad used to bring me to the Smithsonian when I was little (the museums were free and could keep kids like me and my brother entertained for hours)! Getting the opportunity to work in a childhood pasttime favorite of mine was a dream come true!

Henry

The main entrance at Natural History, from staff floor!

I was really lucky to grow up in the DC metro area as I got to experience all of the awesome things DC had to offer on a regular basis, the Smithsonian museums being just a few of those things. My parents, being the scientists and nerds that they are and were, enjoyed the outdoors. My pop would always want to go out to wildlife refuges and take pictures and this would be ok with my mom and brother because they both liked looking around by ponds and in dirt for random creatures. Me…. not so much (prolly had to do with my brother making me eat mud and sand pies).

So when we would go to the local area wildlife refuges or national parks (Mason Neck, Great Falls, etc), everyone would kind of disperse and do their own thing. My pop would set up in a chair with his camera equipment and wait for birds, my brother would wander off, sometimes with me sometimes not, to play near the water or look for salamanders and I would generally follow a hiking trail to one place or another, checking back in occasionally. My pop was always in the same spot. We generally wouldn’t leave for hours. So these trips composed large parts of my childhood, as well as adulthood — example being when my pop and I went down to Florida to see MAVEN launch in November of 2013… the Merritt Wildlife
Refuge is right outside of Kennedy Space Center (KSC)

KSC

and so of course we had to go there and walk around and check out all of the birds, gators, and other animals we could see. It was a ton of fun!

Pop at Merritt Wildlife Refuge

 

We wandered around for over three hours just looking at stuff and goofing off.

I don’t think my family has ever had a BAD time at a wildlife refuge.

    Birdimage

 

Anyway, I grew up learning stuff about space (so NASA was a great and amazing place to work), going to the Smithsonian (working here has been kick ass) and going to wildlife refuges… which brings me to my GIGANTIC AMAZING NEWS!!! 

I have gotten a new job and am transferring to Fish and Wildlife Service Refuges!!! I am REALLY excited! I type this on my last day here at Natural History, before anyone has gotten in to work, and before I have had coffee; but I really couldn’t be more thrilled.

desk friends

My desk friends are moving!!!! They are at home in a box, waiting for their new home!

Fish and Wildlife has their headquarters in VA, closer to my house, so the commute will be shorter (dunno if I can call it better) but I won’t be coming downtown every day anymore, so I will miss parts of the job here of course. The people are awesome and I got to do and participate in a lot of neat projects and events!

Reveal of the T-Rex skull

Reveal of the T-Rex skull

 

Carousel time -  free rides every week for staff!!!

Carousel time – free rides every week for staff!!!

This is only a handful of the stuff we got to do as Smithsonian  employees, not including folk life staff picnic every year, all of the exhibit previews, seeing bao bao debut and many others!

I have had a good run here at the Smithsonian and my husband and I couldn’t be more excited as we embark on this next part of our lives with my new job! He thinks he will get me to go camping more :-) — Dunno about this, but I love hiking and we do that regularly already, we just may start traveling further out for our hikes!

6:30am in the morning before I walked in, I took a final day selfie in the back parking lot!  

Last day smiles!

Last day, all smiles before we head into the building at 6:30am!

All I can say is “What a long strange trip it’s been…” and I am excited for my next one!

Sometimes, I hold my breath…

Sometimes, I hold my breath… I was originally going to start this post out with “Sometimes, I forget to breathe…” but that is completely inaccurate, I always remember but sometimes I choose to hold my breath. I haven’t quite figured out why for all of the times, but 7 times out of 10 it is because I want whatever is happening to stop or go away or rewind. Mind you, it never works, but for some reason I keep doing it. 

When I had knee surgery at the end of January, I held my breath until they were able to get my IV in; I held my breath as they took it out; I held my breath as I got up to take my first steps (post-surgery). And this is just ONE day! 

This morning, when I was driving to work, I saw a WAGS (Washington Area Girls Soccer) magnet and I thought back to all of the years I dedicated to soccer, how I played on and off during college and didn’t do stuff because of stupid people I chose to keep in my life and where those decisions got me (trust me, it was nowhere good) and I held my breath, hoping that I could change stuff… and then it kind of hit me. I do this regularly and yknow what, I have changed, dramatically since 2003. Things had to get a little worse before they could get a little better, and since I do nothing half-assed, they got a lot worse and then a lot better. :-)

Speaking of how I never do anything half-assed, when I decide to do something, I do it and I hit it hard. When I decided to start running, I signed up for a 5 mile race as my first race. Within my first 6 months of starting running, I had signed up for and completed a half marathon. Within the first 18 months I had completed my first full marathon.

So, when I had to stop running in November because of my knee, I decided I would delve into my feelings about my dad dying, in a variety of ways: doing all of the crappiest things I could do to myself and spending tons of money on useless crap (just another way to avoid dealing). As December rolled in, the holidays came and went and my unhealthy activities took a brief break while I did a program at my church, but I picked up where I left off in January when we moved into our new house. I continued with this unhealthy pattern until about two weeks post knee surgery, when I decided to STOP wallowing in self-pity and pain. It has taken me about one month to completely pull my head from my ass. It cost me some money, 30-35 pounds gained, and 3 months of my own time. (And just a disclaimer, this didn’t affect my work or anything like that, just ate like crap, spent a little too much, went out a little too much, and I was pretty much a sad sack for 3-4 months for sure)

The thing I am most upset isn’t about the money (we didnt go into debt or anything just didnt stick to the budget like I should have) or the weight gain (although it is uncomfortable and it is shitty, it can be lost… again), it is the loss of time. I essentially lost those 3 months. I hate losing time. Hate it. I went through a period of my life where I was just wasting time (years, actually) and it always pisses me off when I lose time…. prolly why I pack all of my days with tons of stuff and why when I was in grad school, I worked full time, had a second job AND was marathon training hehe. Now, in all fairness, it wasn’t a complete loss of time. This period of time actually enabled me to open up and discuss my feelings and how much the loss of my dad affected me. And I didn’t open up to everyone, just a handful of people, really. And some commiserated and some gave sympathy and some wept with me. 

Anyway, I made a decision to, yknow, pull my head from my ass. And it is kind of funny because, looking back and as I have been typing this, I realize that as much as I hated losing that time to just… do nothing… it really helped me open a dialog about how I was feeling that I wasn’t willing to do prior to November – so I suppose some good came out of the time warp :-)

Back to this morning, I found my self holding my breath on my drive in when I saw the WAGS magnet and thinking about my dad and my teammates and all of the years I spent playing D1 ball and eminem’s not afraid was playing. Idunno, it was pretty kickass. :-) 

Point being, sometimes bad things can actually be good, with the right perspective and outlook. 

Word Vomiting and Other Socially Awkward Things

I have this terrible tendency to word vomit all over people after days and weeks of silence. It isn’t pretty and it isn’t favored normally, but yknow, it is what it is. I did this to my friend, Rachel, about two months ago, via email, telling her that I have known her for over 15 years and we should be able to discuss more than just surface stuff with each other. We had several back and forth emails about how this was, in fact, the case and we should have a dedicated night to it and thus, “Whiskey night” was born. We sit. We imbibe the occasional glass of whiskey or other spirits and we chat about things that aren’t surface related: from complaining about life to in-depth feels that we struggle to discuss with anyone else. This often involves a lot of word vomiting :-)

Socially awkward, I am. Happens to the best of us.

And REAL TALK (skip next paragraph if you can’t handle real talk): I am sure that some of you have noticed… I haven’t exactly updated this thing lately. And, honestly, I am not sorry. I have been having a bit of a rough go of the whole life thing since all of my extracurricular activities have ended and my training was abruptly halted when I found out post marathon that I have a partial tear in my meniscus. I have pretty down in the dumps and feeling somewhat not all participatory in this thing called life. I spent a fair amount of time working through a lot of feels and emotions and been going through some motions and trying to regain that “life is so amazing” feeling! And I have been slowly doing that; I have been getting more and more active in a variety of activities! I have been working with Girl, Develop It! on some stuff as well as coming up with some long term side projects for wordpress theming and drupal theming. I am pretty jazzed about them. I am also in talks with some various friends about collaborative projects! Life is getting exciting again and I am getting busy (which is how I survive)!

I am having arthroscopic knee surgery to repair the partially torn meniscus next Thursday and I should be back up and on the road and trails again within a few weeks! Until then, I have started a kick ass swimming regiment to get some kind of base in and get back in some kind of shape (and hopefully lose some of the sad sack weight I have gained in the last two months of sad sack sitting). 

Here’s hoping 2015 won’t be completely terrible to me and my family! Husband and I moved into a new place and we are excited about the future prospects! Keep your eyes here and we will be back soon with more information and various other things :-)

The Thinks I Think, Edition 3

I have a lot of thoughts and most of them are completely unrelated, so bear with me.

Things I have learned in the last 6 months:

  1. Life is hard and even with the best and hardest of helmets, we always seem to feel the hardness of life. 
  2. If you’re a leader and nobody’s following you, you’re just a guy out for a walk. – John Bohener — Completely accurate statement. (I may not agree with him 92% of the time, but in this statement, removed from context, I agree. it is accurate)
  3. Death is never fun. Ever. It is hard and makes every day tasks seem much less relevant to the overall big picture, which can cause other damaging effects.
  4. Death can either devastate a family or bring them closer together. I would like to think that my father’s death brought all of us closer together as we nurse similar wounds that were painful for all of us. We haven’t recovered completely but are working together to support each other. 
  5. Blood really is thicker than water. And sometimes, so is friendship.
  6. My husband is amazing. He has completely stepped up to the nonexistent plate. (although in all fairness, he was stepping up before too)
  7. New normal SUCKS. Feelings of pain hit in large waves and at random intervals when we least expect it, but now they are morphing into pangs of happiness that has a lot of sadness around it because there won’t be times like that again
  8. When I take out all of my extra curricular activities (I suspended all website dev outside of work until the new year; I am no longer in grad school; I am not training for anything and am down for the count due to mysterious knee pain which I will talk more about later), I tend to sit and wallow and become someone going through motions as opposed to attacking life’s challenges with gusto. I am working to correct this, presently.
  9. I am starting to get back into music and making beats and this makes me happy
  10. We all need to watch less tv. It really does rot your brain and make you stupider. I should know, other than work, this is pretty much all I did for the last 5 weeks

Check back soon for more crazy thinks that I think and other updates. More to come in the near future!

 

The Thinks I Think, Thursday Edition 2

I have thinks. I think them. 

Thanksgiving is one week away. It is normally joyous occasion. Some people look forward to and live for Christmas… my family? We lived for Thanksgiving. My dad’s sister and her family (uncle and two cousins) come down.

Family is amazing, and I love my family :-)

My dad makes the pies and turnovers Wednesday night when family rolls in and Uncle Carl goes right for the turnover. Dad saves Ben a turnover and he and I split one. Then early Thursday morning, I go for a run, come back and start working on toasting and breaking up the bread for the stuffing as my dad buzzes around the kitchen prepping the turkey and the rest of the stuffing. 

My mom takes the dogs for a walk. My uncle reads the papers he brought with him from Philly (cause he is always behind). Jerid sleeps in. Ben heads over at some point during the day as do my cousins. My cousins, Jerid, mom and I get ready to go see a movie while the turkey is in the oven. My uncle settles in for football (and nap time). My brother will read or do work. My dad plays Go on the computer. When the movie is over and we all come back, we annoy each other until dinner is put on the table. 

After dinner and pie, the adults (my parents and my aunt and uncle) settle in for the super bowl of scrabble games. There is yelling and debating about using a timer for turns and all sorts of elbow throwing. And then we all relax for the night. 

Friday is the epic day of Black-ness with Black Friday shopping (yes. we ARE that crazy or were and would head to the mall on the most crowded day of the year).

Friday night was more scrabble or general hang out time and then Saturday was various. 

Sometimes the cousins and I would hit the bars, it really depended. 

This year… THIS YEAR…. is different. This year is the first year without my dad and while I love my family and they are still coming, this year will be harder and different. I dread this year’s holiday because Ben and I will be making the apple pies and the turkey and stuffing. Our family will be there and we will help each other through this whole holiday. It will be ok. I know it will be ok. This is the new normal, but dont they always say the first is the hardest?

Ben and I are making pies on Wednesday as family rolls in (although, I will make one at my mom’s house and my brother will make one at his house and bring it over… and YES I will make turnovers, cause that’s what you do); Thursday morning, I will get up, do my run (maybe I can talk Leah or Sheena into doing it with me) and then I will come home and start on the stuffing. Ben should be coming over at some point in the morning to start prepping the turkey with me; and then my buddy, Rachel is coming over with her baby (who is like… the cutest baby in the world) in the morning to distract people and things. We might see a movie or we might not. There may or may not be a super bowl scrabble game (only time will tell). 

Basically we have the first few parts planned and we will all prolly try and keep it as normal and as close to previous years as possible (although maybe minus friday shopping… hard to say). I will try not to be all depressing and sad like which is why I am writing this today — so I can get out all of the sad talk. 

I have NO words of wisdom about how to handle the first holiday without a loved one, all I have is thoughts and some fear and nervousness.

But I DO have words of wisdom for you on family. Your family (blood relatives and close friends alike) will save you if you ask them, they will help you if you lean on them. And they will love you if you let them :-) 

Good friends are hard to find. Keep them close and let them help you when you need it.

 

I am terrified about a holiday without my dad, but I am excited about a holiday with a bunch of people who get me and who get what I am going through, because they are all going through it too. And none of us have to be alone. 

 

Every Day is a Day in Paradise when you are Above Ground

I have had lots of thinks to think but also, my mind has been completely vacant — if you can have it both ways. I get up each morning, I put on clothes, I go to work, I come home, I sit on the couch and I do a whole lot of nothing. I have waves of intense thought about my dad. These thoughts can include everything from “he would have really liked that scene” to “this holiday season is going to suck (because he won’t be there)”. 

Life is hard. I feel pretty empty yet I absolutely don’t. I struggle to get excited over hugely large and exciting things because my new normal (the “normal” that is without my pop = new normal) is not my old normal and I no longer experience feelings quite like I did. (Once again, if that even makes sense)

I don’t get sad or excited like I used to… not really. Right now, it’s mostly just blah. I am not overly feeling about anything. It is weird. 

My dad used to combine two statements:

Every day is a day in paradise + every day is good when it’s above ground = every day is a day in paradise when you’re above ground.

So we live by this statement.

And those of us in the dead parents’ club… we get each other, we get the new normal that is post parent death.. and we try to comfort each other and be there for each other. Those that aren’t part of the dead parents’ club… shouldn’t join it if they can avoid it and I suppose we could call it the dead immediate family club because it blows no matter who dies… it blows more when it is your parent, sibling, spouse, etc. anyway… new normal. It’s where I live and while I experience happiness and joy and some anger… mostly I experience blah-ness and it’s ok. It just is the underlying feeling.

Retail therapy doesn’t help (believe me, I have tried).

Talking to friends doesn’t always help… some of them don’t get it… some of them brush it off like it aint no thing and some of em get it or try to understand and be supportive. Family has been incredible and the friends that have tried to understand and be supportive have been amazing. 

We are truly lucky to experience the amazing and loving people that are in our lives.

Well…. this post degenerated rapidly into something I wasn’t expecting. Point being, life is good. I am figuring out this new normal and struggling to put words to feelings. Every day is a step forward. :-)

How I Blew Up During MCM (or in other words, my MCM Recap)

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to run the Marine Corps Marathon. The People’s marathon. The marathon that runs through my city, that I have spectated and supported for years. During a marathon, you learn what you’re made of….

When I signed up to run the 39th MCM in Feburary with Washington Humane Society, I did so because of a discussion Kat, Linzie and I had while running the WDW 10k at Disney World in January of 2014. If it hadn’t been for this conversation, I might have waivered.

I was waivering up until July 2014. At the end of June, I was on target to finish my masters in August (and I did), and my husband and I were exploring possible futures. When my father died, everything got put on hold, so I could train and run Marine Corps, for pop who was planning to register as a photog on the course and take pictures and watch me run.

I trained all summer and as we went into September, I was feeling more ready than ever to take on this marathon. I had high hopes for a sub 5 hour marathon and a huge PR at the marathon distance. I was in close contact with my coach, following her instructions to a T. Then the Navy/Air-Force Half Marathon happened…

It was a great race and I did PR, but as with all PRs, they could have been bigger… better…. and I got injured. It was less than pleasant and I believe a large part was because I hadn’t been aligned by a chiropractor in over three years, so my back was WAY out of whack and was a large reason why there was extreme hip imbalances. I was diligent, however, and I listened to my coach, saw a PT and a chiropractor and worked hard to stay in marathon shape, spending hours in the pool and on the bike, continuing with an amended training schedule. Finally got in a solid 20 miler and was like, maybe I can still do this. 20 miles in 3 hours and 50 min. I can nail a sub 5.

So Thursday I went to the expo and picked up my bib and some swag for Linzie and I so we could ensure we got our sizes in the stuff we wanted. I also had the opportunity to meet Janice (another fellow INB ambassador).

Oorah!!!

On Friday, I hung around and teleworked until it was time to go pick Linzie up from the airport and then the REAL fun started! We met up with Emelia at the expo (we went so Linz could get his bib) and headed to dinner at Shop House and then over to Union Station for the Monuments by Moonlight Trolley tour with some other INB ambassadors! It was pretty awesome to experience the sights of DC with people who hadn’t seen them before! 

On Sunday, we run with the marines and experience dc as only runners will.

 

On Saturday morning, Linzie and I went to the bRUNch and had a phenomenal time! We did a quick 5k shakeout and ate some breakfast while chatting it up with Bart Yasso.

Eating all of the things after a 5k shakeout!

 

Linzie and I milled about DC with some of his friends who drove up from Richmond and then went back to my house to put our feet up and relax before the marathon 

linz-me

Me and Linzie, watching Pitch Perfect and hydrating! Photo courtesy of SharpEndurance

 

On Sunday morning, I woke up at 4:30 am to get ready to run Marine Corps Marathon. We were meeting my friend Leanne at the metro by my brother’s house to head to the start together. Leanne (for some ungodly reason) decided to run the marathon with me. Linz was going to try and PR so he went up to start with the 4:45 pace group. We were starting with the 5 hour pace group.

startline-mcm

Us at the start of MCM — Photo courtesy of Leanne

The howitzer cannon might have gone off promptly at 7:55, but we didn’t actually start moving forward and running until 8:15 or 8:20. We were off, and headed further into Arlington. I was told not to burn out on the first 3 miles because they were gradual uphill and to be aware of that. We took it easy during the first 10k as we went into Georgetown. We proceeded through Georgetown and into the rest of DC and down Rock Creek. I was fine until we got onto Haines Point and around mile 12, I saw the photogs taking pics up above us and it made me think of my dad and how he was supposed to be there. And I looked at Leanne and told her it was too early for this shit.

As we moved around Haines Point and around Independence Ave, I could feel pains creeping in on the inside of my lower left calf. At mile 16, I started getting concerned. Leanne told me I needed to let my shit go, have a cry and move the hell on cause we had a marathon to finish. I told her to go on without me. (she is really speedy) She said hell no. She was going to give me a piggy back across the finish line before she was going to leave me. At mile 18, I called my husband, who was at work and told him what was going on with me emotionally and mentally. He told me Leanne was right, I needed to cry it out but that he knew I could finish this marathon. As we ran down and past the capitol building, she asked me why I couldn’t just have it out. I looked at her and told her I couldn’t cry in front of such a badass because she was a bad ass; and she was like “what, you think I don’t cry?” Then we had real confessions and found Sheena just after mile 19, where she hopped in and ran with us. 

We beat the bridge with 45-50 minutes to spare, but the bridge was tough and I still hadn’t had the relief that crying would have given me. My wall lasted 8 hellish miles. Leanne pulled me along through to Crystal City where we saw my brother, future sister in law and buddies, Anh, Aaron and Will. They had made signs and Anh had brought me shot blocks (I forgot an extra pack). When I saw Ben, I almost started bawling and wanted to give him a giant hug… but I didn’t because, yknow, we aren’t huggers… and I was sweaty. My brother actually came out to support me! Anyway, we motored along through Crystal City and saw Gail and Tony around mile 23.

mcm-mile22

Sheena, in blue, Leanne in pink and me in the flag at mile 23

My demons wouldn’t leave me though. I was having a rough time and when we hit mile 24, Leanne looked at me and said Becca, it is 2 shitty little miles, come on. Let’s do this! My mouth said yes, my legs said ok, but my brain… my brain told me to f*ck myself because as far as it was concerned, we were walking, damnit. 

When we got to mile 25.5, Leah jumped out of nowhere and started running with us also! I had an entourage as we approached the finish where we saw my mom jumping up and down and cheering for me. Side note, she was so adorable cheering and our family friend, Barbara Lanzer was there too. 

me-finishhill

photo courtesy of Barbara

I kicked up the hill then tuckered out less than 100 yards before the finish, giving a half-hearted and defeated jog to the end.

I was definitely surprised that what ended up defeating me was my mental demons and not my injuries. 

Now for the fun section. 

Things I Have Learned and Could Have Done Better (or what I would change for next time)

  1. Calculated my nutrition correctly (which I didn’t. I only brought 2 of the 3 shot block packs I needed, and as Sheena can attest, when anything happens in the negative way, it mind f’s me… even when I had it covered and got extra shot blocks and everything, I just couldn’t let it ride)
  2. Not gotten so introverted and stuck in my head, which is WAY easier said than done. One thing goes wrong and I get mind f-ed or in this case, I realize that I miss my dad. The missing of him comes in waves and it can be completely untimely. Basically, I need to learn to shake it off.
  3. Listened to Leanne and sucked it up or let her carry me next time 😛
  4. During my training, I am going to do the 20 miler and a 22 miler (my schedule called for 20 miles and a 20 or 22 miler, I did the 20 miles instead of 22). While I followed my schedule, when given an option I did less rather than more, and mentally, I wasn’t as top notch as I could have been, so I will learn from this and make it work.
  5. Complain less. When I complain less, I do better and shake things off better. Period, end of story.

People I couldn’t have done this marathon training cycle without: 
My husband, first and foremost, and my mom. Both have been incredibly supportive of the early mornings, the injuries and the whining.

Sheena and Leanne for their constant support during training and during the race. OMG these two ladies have been so amazing. Sheena rode her bike during my long and really tough runs and Leanne, my god, this tiny lady kept threatening to piggy back my through the race if necessary. hehe 

Linzie and his words of encouragement! I cannot believe I got to share this amazing weekend with you! It was incredible to share this amazing weekend with you; I suspect there will be several more marathon weekends together! SO MUCH FUN! 

My other friends and family, virtual and otherwise: Leah who showed up out of nowhere to run with and support me! It was a boost! My cousins and extended family who were tracking me and following me and texting me as well as the rest of my running buddies and friends who were cheering me on via text and facebook! Everyone has been so amazing.

The crowd support during the race was off the hook. I definitely plan to run this marathon again. And to never run the Disney marathon again (Disney does not even hold a candle to MCM). 

At one point during the race, I asked Leanne why the hell people chose to run marathons? and she said because, it challenges you and shows you what you’re made of. This is so true. That is why I signed up…everytime, to see what I was made of and if I could do it. The marathon distance breaks you if you let it. But when it does, it is all a question of whether you can get back out there and make shit go right at some point. Sunday was a challenge and my mental demons definitely beat me, but I still finished and Leanne’s and my friendship is still intact despite my negative attitude during the second half of the marathon. 

and I after the marathon. Today was hard fought as my dad was going to be a photog and come out for support today. I hit a huge wall at mile 18 and struggled to get past it. Thanks for cheering me on, everybody! Today, I did this for my dad

Linzie and me, post-marathon

 

Have you run a marathon? Were you beaten down or did you overcome the mental blocks?

 

The Thinks I Think: Thursday, edition 1

Hey! Go out there and get the life you want; it's out there!

 

I posted this picture to Instagram this morning. I believe whole-heartedly in the message and everything about it, right down to the smiling open-mouthed goofy ass grin I have. I took some time away from my blog and from various social media platforms for a few reasons. 1) I needed a break. I was annoying myself with my inane droning on and on about things. 2) I thought I might have to pull out from MCM after the Navy/Air-Force Half, and I really wanted to focus on stuff, listen to my coach and not take in any unnecessary distractions from anything or anyone. 3) I was going through some things that I thought would be life-changing but ended up pulling the plug at the last minute because I was no longer comfortable with the situation (which I felt was going to be hostile) that was going to occur once I got to the other side. You pick your battles and after the shittastic year that I have had, I really decided I didn’t have it in me to pick up, do battle, and come out on the other side relatively unscathed. yknow, that listening to your gut thing. I did that for once and feel pretty good about it. 4) I applied to run Boston with Tedy’s team and I did not make the cut. And I wanted to rethink my race schedule and some of my running goals for 2015.

After this time off, this morning on my morning metro ride, I got to thinking about what I was doing when I took the time off to recharge my batteries, and the conclusion I came to was that “I am making moves to make my life MORE kick ass” BAM! 

I will run Marine Corps Marathon this weekend. It is going to be EPIC! My buddy, Linzie, over at SharpEndurance is coming to DC to run MCM and spend the weekend wandering around DC with me! 😀 I could not be more thrilled over here! He was someone I was fortunate enough to meet at a runDisney event and we have been in contact since then, numerous times so when the opportunity to spend some quality time with him came up this weekend, I jumped at the chance! I am going to the expo this afternoon and then picking Linzie up tomorrow. We have a semi-meetup happening with some other InkNBurn ambassadors that are coming in to run MCM at a trolley tour and will do the bRUNch on saturday and the race Sunday! My ragnar teammate (from both trails and road) will be cruising with me during the race also. I won’t be running as fast as I was training for because I have had to switch to intervals to be able to achieve the 26.2 mile distance this weekend. But it is going to be AMAZING!

With that being said. I have done a lot of thinking and not making tedy’s team for Boston was kind of a big blow at first. I wanted to do something as a tribute for my father, but yknow what, I really need a break from distances over 16 miles for right now and I need to reassess my strength and build some more of it. I will be running RnR DC in March and we are pulling together a Ragnar Trails WV team, but I think that is my list so far for Spring 2015. I am hoping to run Cherry Blossom ten miler again, but that all depends on if I get in the lottery or not :-).

Since completing my Masters degree in Software Engineering (yes, I am proud of that) in August (2 months ago), I have taken a step back from a lot of sidework and taken the extra time to learn to relax. Yes, I said LEARN to relax. I don’t remember how to do it, but I am slowly working on it and it is going well!

What are you up to this weekend? Are you going to come check out Marine Corps Marathon and cheer runners on? Are you running? Or, do you just get frustrated because a lot of the roads in dc shut down for this Sunday each year? Lemme know what you are thinking!

HAPPY MARINE CORPS MARATHON WEEKEND Y’ALL!!!!

Navy/Air Force Half Marathon

A few months ago, I decided to sign up for the Navy/Air Force Half. This was my first half marathon since the RnR DC half back in March. Since I am deep into marathon training, this was a good way to get in some miles and keep the motivation up! Plus it helped that I wore this shirt the night before:

When I feel sad, I stop and be awesome instead! My pop hooked me up w this shirt! Hopefully, while I'm out racing/running, it inspires you to be awesome!

It was a happy reminder of my dad and he used to tell me to do this regularly. 

Anyway, so I spoke with my coach a couple of weeks before and switched my long run to Sunday, having Saturday off, which was good because I got something resembling food poisoning or an intestinal like stomach bug on Thursday night – IT WAS TERRIBLE. I was up most of the night on Thursday, in the bathroom. Thank god I was scheduled to work from home on Friday! Anyway, so my weekend started out somewhat less than pleasantly. Fast forward through Friday to Saturday where I am mostly recovered, but my stomach still felt slightly off and I was working hard to catch up on sleep. My mom decided to come to the race expo with me, because she hadn’t been down to nats stadium and the waterfront in SE since they started building it all up! We had a fun little adventure; we drove down to where I work, and parked there and took the metro a few stops over to Navy yard-Stadium on the green line. When we got there people had already lined up and were waiting. Apparently, unlike many other larger races, the Navy/Air Force half doesn’t assign bib numbers beforehand, which can cause some confusion and slowing of packet pickup, but overall not as much of a cluster as it could have been. My mom and I each got on a packet line and raced to the front (she won). 

mommy

Candid shot of my mom, racing me in line :-)

Anyway, we blew through packet pick up and went back home to take the dogs to the vet and relax. I spent the day praying my stomach would right itself. We cleaned a lot too. My husband got his office set up, we moved a fold out couch into his office among other things. He spent most of the evening in his newly set up office and I spent it watching reruns on our couch in the other room. I had 16 miles to complete the following morning and initially was going to get up and run the 2.9 before the race, but decided against it. I went to bed early with my clothes laid out and an extra shirt packed for the extra miles I had planned on doing following the race. 

On Sunday morning, I woke up at 4:23am (don’t ask, for some reason I have an OCD thing about getting up at __:30 or __:00 or any number ending in 5). I snuggled with my pug for a bit and checked my phone, like all good computer geeks do and then proceeded to get up and get dressed. When I went to let the dogs out, I realized the dark portion of the morning was a little chillier than anticipated which would have made for excellent running weather but not so awesome for waiting around weather. So I grabbed a sweater and some arm sleeves for the start of the race. 

I drove downtown and parked at work. And hung out in my car for a few mins before headed to the start line. I got over to the start around 6:45 and realized I really needed to go to the bathroom. The line for the port-a-potties was pretty long and the race was starting at 7:10, although quite a few people thought it was starting at 7am. Anyway, I made it to the port-a-potty and back out to the start line. By the time we were starting, I had already stripped off the arm sleeves and tucked them into the back of my capris for the race.

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Me, at the start line.

The race started promptly at 7:10am and it took me a solid 2 mins to get to the start, because like at all other races, people think it is a good idea to walk across the start… Anyway, it was bunched up at the start like at all other races. So I tried to get out to the side and find my groove. I started out going like 9:38 and then slowed down to 9:58.

Miles 1-5, I started running and was going pretty strong and when I checked my watch at the first beep, I was like whoa! 9:58, sweet! but I don’t think I can hold this for 13 miles… can I? As I continued to motor along, I managed to hold the pace around 10mm, and was thinking I might PR, like MASSIVELY and then had the follow up thought of let’s not get ahead of ourselves… there is a lot of race left. 

Miles 6-7, I hung in there and held on to my 10 mm average. 

Miles 8-10, my mileage times started to creep up slowly but surely. First, 10:13, then 10:32, then 10:58.

Mile 11-12 were between 11:11 and 11:30. I had to stop and stretch my left calf which was getting tight. (my right one started getting tight on haines point during the Cherry Blossom ten miler).

Miles 13 and 0.1 (really 0.37), I sucked it up and found SOMEthing left to finish the race up. I ended up improving my old 1/2 marathon time by 8 minutes! My old PR, from RnR DC half was 2:27:xx and I finished the NAF Half on Sunday in 2:19:07!!! WOOOO!!!

medal

my Navy/Air Force Half medal

8 min PR  now to head home and do 2.9 more miles!   (was on target for 12 min pr but crapped out at mile 10)

Me after the race, with an 8 min PR!

I was beating myself up for a bit following the race because I was on target during the first 7 miles for a 12 min PR and I lost 4 minutes during miles 8-12 :-(  and I was mostly beating myself up because i KNOW I could have done better.

BUT you win some you lose some right?

Lessons learned: stop beating yourself up!

Did you race this past weekend? When was your last shiny new PR? How did it feel? Do you ever beat yourself up when you don’t live up to your own harsh standards?

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