Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Best Friend's Wedding

Kara, my dearest friend, got married last Friday in South Carolina. The wedding, the setting, the people, the atmosphere--everyhing was perfect, and it was a perfect representation of Kara and Jimmy.
They went for the non-traditional approach. No bridal party, no long, drawn-out ceremony, no fancy reception with special tables reserved for the bridal party--just Kara, Jimmy, and their closest friends and family. We gathered to celebrate them.
I have never met a better-matched couple. I'm lucky to have them as friends.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Foot Surgery

I went in for foot surgery a week and a half ago. It sucked, to be blunt. I had it done Friday morning, and filled up my Saturday with plans, thinking that I would bounce right back and be feeling great (albeit on crutches). Wrong. I won’t go into too many details, but I’ll just say that the pain meds took a long time to kick in and when they did, they made me nauseated, so I spent the day quite ill and feeling awful. I didn’t get back on my feet, so to speak, until Tuesday, when I ventured out into the world and back to work. Trying to do anything on crutches is highly inconvenient, and I don’t recommend it.
Cullen, bless his heart, was amazing all weekend, and I don’t know what I would have done without him. He took Friday off work, stayed up two nights with me rubbing my head as I moaned and cried, slept on a small armchair next to me downstairs, and carried me to the bathroom when I had to throw up. Definitely not a romantic weekend for us, but love is the good and the bad, and he got me through the bad.
Each day gets better. I got rid of the crutches (not exactly doctor’s orders, but, you know…) and even though I’m limping terribly and wearing a walking cast, I’m being very productive at work and in my social life.
I ache for running. I miss the trails, I miss just being able to go anywhere swiftly and not think about walking in a manner that doesn’t bend my broken foot.
But all in all, I can’t complain. I’m still a very healthy girl, and in a few months this will all be a memory that I probably won’t visit very often.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Trail Marathon

I have to be honest: going into the my first marathon, which was this past Saturday, I was excited, for sure, but I wasn’t feeling super, well, intimidated. I was feeling downright confident, actually. I had trained well. I had put in two 20 milers on the course and one 22 miler, done a few prep races, lots of speedwork and hill work—all of the stuff you’re supposed to do to ensure a good marathon. Now I understand the whole “aura” and “pinnacle” thing about the marathon.

I have done a lot of endurance races. When I was racing my bike, I did countless centuries, and one 130-miler for training. I was tired, for sure, at the end, but I was okay. I was still intact. The marathon is a whole different beast. I have never felt so spent and completely stripped after a race or endurance event. By stripped, I mean emotionally, physically--just raw. I had no control over my breathing, my tears—it just all came out that last mile. I knew I was in trouble when I started hyperventilating with 3 miles to go. Hyperventilating at the end of a race isn’t something new for me—I’ve done it a few times at the end of races, but I usually gain control pretty quickly, and I’m smiley by the time I cross the finish line. Not on Saturday.

What set me off was my knee: somewhere, early on in the course, I tweaked it, and throughout the race, I started getting sharp pains, but I ignored it, figuring that a surgeon is breaking my foot in a week, so if I hurt my knee, at least I’ll have plenty of time to heal up. All was well until the last six miles, and then the pain became a little more than I could ignore. By the last few miles, I was running on pure stubbornness. When I saw Cullen, at about mile 25, I just lost it. He rode next to me on the bike, encouraging me and reminding me to breathe (I sounded like a colicking horse by that point), but there was something about seeing the finish line, being pissed about my knee, feeling physically depleted, and—knowing that I was so close to the finish—that just left me completely defenseless. In a strange way, it felt fantastic.

I finished okay. I missed my goal time by 4 minutes, but I did well in the overall standings, so I guess it’s all relative. I know, that if all is well physically, I will absolutely do the same marathon next year. It feels strangely wonderful to have been beat down by something, yet not defeated. I have a new respect for the distance.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Marathon prayer

Please, dear God, do not let me get sick, twist my ankle, have insomnia, or in any way, shape or form, not feel 100% until after this Saturday has passed. Why? Because I have been training for this marathon, dutifully, through the humid summer months, suffered dehydration on 20 mile runs (twice—you think I would have learned), and am putting off foot surgery so I can run it. It really wouldn’t be fair if I came down with an ailment right now. I haven’t been sick at all this past year, so for something to happen, before this 1 day—1 out of 365, would just seem unfair.
And if something happens, it’s not like I can just find another marathon in a few weeks when I feel better. Explanation:
A. Trail marathons are hard to find. Because of my foot that needs surgery, I can’t run on the road. Hence, it would suck for something to happen to me before this Saturday.
B. My foot surgery is the following week. I could re-schedule, I suppose, but refer to A.
I feel like I should quarantine myself right now. I’ve never been so paranoid about my health. Usually, my philosophy is the more germ exposure, the stronger my immune system gets. Not so right now. Bring on the waterless hand sanitizer.
I’m feeling slightly tired right now and that seriously concerns me. Am I getting sick? Do I feel any signs of a sore throat? I think I’m going to go straight to bed when I leave work today. Seriously. Maybe I should call in preventative-sick to work tomorrow so I can stay in bed all day. Just in case.
My paranoia is completely justified. Cullen, who also trained through the humidity and suffered dehydration (twice) is sick. He probably (definitely shouldn’t) run the marathon on Saturday. He says he might race the first half to pace me, drop out, grab his bike, and meet me at the aid stations. I feel horrible for him. How crushing, to put in all this work, and then get sick, right before the race. But, if he does miss it, at least he can find a road one to race.
This will be my first marathon. I think I could run the course trails blindfolded—the race is on the trail system that backs up to Cullen’s house, and I’ve been running those trails weekly for the past year. I love them. I want to crush them in this race. I’ve completely prepared, and I’ve never felt so excited about a race. Usually I rather dread races, but I think a marathon will suite my endurance-style better than the shorter races, so I’m feeling confident.
This race will be my last run (sob) for a long time. The surgery will put me out for, optimistically, three months. No running for three months. I may, optimistically, be able to bike after one month, but considering that Dr. Sawbones is breaking my foot bone, I’m thinking that even if I’ll be able to bike, it will probably be the stationary variety, and not the ripping through the trees on my new kick-ass mt. bike variety. I really don’t know what I’m going to do with my spare time. Or how I’ll relieve my stress, have deep thoughts as I wind through singletrack, or get very familiar with my iTunes playlist. Running, riding--being in the woods—feel as important to me as the act of sleeping. So I’m absolutely dreading the surgery, and really, really, really hoping that I’ll have a good marathon on Saturday.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Girly weekend

This past weekend I drove to Nashville for my dear friend Kara's bachelorette party. It wasn't the "typical" put-a-tiara-on-her-head-and-take-her-to-the-bars type of weekend. (Thank goodness.) Instead, 6 of us spent the weekend at her friend Ashley's house just being girls. Mojitos were involved. There was a lot of sex-talk and lingerie-giving. I haven't had an all-girls weekend in so long, and it was just fantastic. There's something irreplaceable about a bunch of girls spending that much time together that is just, well, irreplaceable.
Many of Kara's friends who were there she's known since elementary school. Their friendship runs deep. I was envious, slightly, because I realized that I don't have contact with girls I went through school with--mainly out of choice, but still, I don't have those unique friendships in my life. My best friend John and I still keep in contact with each other--we've known each other since third grade--but I didn't care to maintain friendships with many of the girls I grew up with. And now, living across the country, I'm struggling to maintain contact with my college friends, though I value their friendships very much.
Many of my closest friends through the years have been guys. In grad school, all of my friends were guys, and my memories of hanging out with them are fantastic. But guys aren't very good at keeping in touch. And you can't talk to guys the same as you can to girls. (Though I'm sure many of them would have loved to have overheard the sex talk.)
I've met some great girls since moving to NC, but I feel that I'm in this strange spot right now: I don't yet have substantial time with them, so I still feel a bit like a drifter, not really entrenched in any one place. It feels lonely at times. I know that if I stay here, for the long term, those friendships will deepen, but right now, I do miss the feeling of feeling rooted.