Tag Archives: running

Have a baby. You deserve it.

On the fence about procreating? Here are 10 completely selfish reasons to get busy gettin’ busy.

1. You know that moment in Target or the grocery store when you realize you’ve been talking out loud to yourself, either reciting your list, the other errands you have to do or that Ke$ha song you heard right before coming in? When you’re accompanied by a baby you can easily recover with a quick, animated “What do you think about that, peanut?” directed towards the shopping cart. That’s right – you were talking to the baby the whole time.

2. It’s totally forgivable to forego showering, using makeup and general hygiene as long as your kid has on a coordinating, adorable outfit. Preferably with an ironic slogan on it, like “I was partying all night in my crib” or “Spit Up Distance Champion” or whatever.

3. Boobs.

4. Really don’t feel like driving four hours to that creeper cousin’s wedding even though you RSVP’d months ago? Babies can EASILY develop a cough the night before dreaded events.

5. I have been late to everything since I started driving. As of July 15, 2012, it is no longer my fault that I show up 15 minutes tardy for every party.

6. Naps are more acceptable for mothers. Oftentimes encouraged.

7. I spent about half as much money on groceries for the first six months of Addison’s life because her gargantuan carrier took up the entire shopping cart, only leaving room for the bare essentials to be carefully packed in around her. Coffee. Creamer. Something chocolate. And done.

8. My running pace has increased thanks to the 40 pounds of resistance provided by the jogging stroller. I have also abandoned my iPod in favor of being serenaded by baby babbling.

9. “Honey, I really need a night out with the girls. You know…all that taking care of the baby and everything.”

10. Boobs.

Am I missing anything?

A face

A face2

A blueberry face

A List Full of Happy

Here are a few things helping me smile this week.

1. I beat my brother at Words with Friends. Sure, it was the one time in about 39 attempts, but I needed that victory. All that slaughtering was really starting to make me question my career path.

2. Girls Night was last Saturday night. Hey-o! As if that wasn’t enough, I assembled (didn’t even have to bake) and brought this saucy little minx:

ice cream cake (Source)

We chatted, kept our wine goblets full and took a stab at at-home nail shellacking. My effort was more like a massacre, but at least I gave being girly a go. Less than a week later, well, the results speak for themselves. I assure you these results have nothing to do with the product and everything to do with my general deficiencies in the feminine arts.

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3. Catching Addison waking up from a nap as she bobbles around trying to blink her baby-sleepy eyes into recognition.

4. Our hot tub is up and running. We’ve lounged in it a few times after putting Addison to bed, and it is rather glorious. We can open the curtains and still check in on the Rays score. Really feels like the Noa’s are winning at life a little bit every time we’re soakin’.

5. Date night tomorrow night. Live music under the stars sounds like perfection. Except that it’s been 86 degrees. Gearing up for some sweet, sweaty PDA.

6. We went on a family run last night. Clayton hates running and only succumbs to my requests if tears get involved. Last night’s easy acceptance of my invitation was pleasantly unexpected. I love running with Clayton (except for when I hate running with Clayton) because I always go faster. Way faster. Our final quarter mile was under 9:00 min/mile. That’s downright insanity for me. It may have been even faster had Clayton not completely tripped over Maya, who got spooked by a mailbox. And that’s the story of the last time Maya will ever get taken on a run.

To the runners

I first started running consistently in 2011. I’d completed a handful of 5k’s in college, but once we moved to Virginia I had a lot of time on my hands while Clayton worked 490 hours a week. I had the distant goal of running a half marathon, provided I could actually wheeze through the three miles on my initial training schedule.

Distance running is not always fun. It’s physically demanding, yes, but more than anything it’s a mental battle within yourself to simply keep moving. On every long run, whether 5 minutes or 45 minutes in, I’d face that voice that tried to justify stopping. Quitting. Giving in and going home.

Becoming a runner, to me, was the development of a basic but profound ability to shut that voice up and run anyway. 

With a lot of sports under my belt, I can say that runners channel a competitive drive in the healthiest way I’ve seen in athletics: to push yourself to do more than you thought possible. “Beating” someone is not the endgame; doing your best is the ultimate goal. Running longer than you thought you could, running farther than you thought you could, running at all when you didn’t think you could. Your opponents are your last run, the clock and your head.

During the six months I spent going from 3 mile runs to 10 mile mornings, I incorporated several races into my training, culminating with the lone half marathon I completed in September 2011. 

What did I learn? Runners run because they love it. They want everyone else to love it, too. They are warm, welcoming and supportive to anyone who shows up with a pair of Nike tempo shorts. They are not exclusive or judgmental if you are newer or slower, stick thin or pleasantly round, wearing the latest Brooks or the Reeboks you use for gardening. They give you a ride to the start line when you are walking from a mile away. They get giddy upon learning it’s your first half. That same person, who you just met, waves and encourages you when you pass along the course. And then that person, who you’ve known for mere minutes, is waiting to cheer you on at the finish line.

My stint into running is still new, anything but elite, and far from marathon-capable. But I’ve spent enough time around runners to know that they are a community of decent, dedicated individuals.

Runners just want to run. And they are immediately inspiring to those who show interest in their passion. 

When I saw what took place on Monday in Boston, during one the most iconic races that celebrates runners on an international stage, I was heartsick. For the lives lost, for the people injured, for the city. But mostly for runners. There and everywhere. In a group that’s run together for a decade or strangers waiting for the starting gun next to each other, it is a true community. People who are unthinkably tough inside and out, who also use their coveted breaths to motivate someone who has stopped to walk in the middle of a race.

This ugly, darkened shadow has been cast over one of the most wholesome groups of people. Runners who have been working tirelessly to push past the point where their mind said they must stop, for the first time or for the 40th time. Families and friends lit up with pride, the people who facilitated this momentous accomplishment by babysitting, succumbing to pasta four nights a week and hiding water bottles along an 18-mile training route. A city opening its arms and streets and cheers to thousands of strangers.

These are the faces that form my sadness. This was the celebration meant to be incinerated.

Of course—unquestionably–if you have met a runner you know that quote floating around couldn’t be more accurate:

“If you’re trying to defeat the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong group to target.”

Runners are solid and strong. Marathoners most of all. They ran 26.2 miles (still inconceivable to me) and kept running to help.

Those are runners. Those are the people who will prove there are 27,000 more reasons to hope and rejoice in the good of others instead of the one reason that leads us to doubt it. Though for a moment, one act grew louder and threw the dust of evil on this one day, in the seconds, the days and the weeks following I have no doubt the steady rhythm of feet on pavement will deafen the roar of terror. The melodic miles underfoot on roads in Boston, pastures in England, sandy streets in Africa and the sidewalk in my own neighborhood will drown the blasts of hate.

We’ll run. Even when it’s hard. That’s what runners do.

run for boston

Easter

I’m not even pretending like this post has any other purpose than to upload pictures of my kid on Easter. You’ve been warned.

In a way, Easter started out Saturday night when I leaned over to Clayton sweetly and said, “I need to tell you something, and you can’t laugh at me.”

Pause for my sincerity.

“I want to run tomorrow before church.”

Pause for Clayton’s echoing laughter.

So, obviously, I woke up Sunday morning at 6 a.m. and had to run. There was no other choice.

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The reality of that ever happening again is Leann Rimes slim, so I tried to soak in the silence and focus on the magnitude of the holiday. It’s a pretty big deal.

After a few dirty looks from Clayton when I returned home 15 minutes later than I meant to, our day was officially a go. He left early for band rehearsal and I had the task of prettying up a post-run me and a squirmy Addison. My 9 a.m. arrival time at church turned into 9:30 without blinking an eye. We may have had a few distractions.

basketsYes, my husband got Cinnamon Toast Crunch for Easter. Don’t be too jealous.

A egg

After trudging through a forest of egg dishes and baked goods (praise God for little old ladies who love to cook), our service kicked off with some rocking music from a studly worship leader. Addison could barely contain her Latin hips and forceful clapping. (Do you think we’re just a little enamored with our gal?)

NBC family

We spent the afternoon at my grandmother’s house eating a gluttonous spread of ham, vegetables defiled by mayonnaise and sugar, and dessert. So American. So unashamed of our casseroles. It was the usual mix of booming voices and side corner sarcasm from the cousins’ circle. Except this Easter I got to roll around on the floor with a crawling infant and fail horribly at snapping a useable photo of her in a stain-free dress. I did manage to get about 38 shots of her blurry booty scooting away from me. Way to go, Mom.

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Then she found her shoe. Which made it the best Easter EVER.

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Also new this year was the glorious 30 minutes Clayton and I spent napping on the couch in total confidence that out of 12 obsessive family members, someone was most likely watching our baby. New tradition? I think so.

Once we came home, Addison got to dive into her Easter basket. Quite literally. She loved the eggs, and I was extremely grateful I hadn’t wasted any money or effort on filling them. We sat outside for awhile without shoes and looked like those neighbors. We’re already on the HOA’s list, so whatevs. Just add it to next month’s snarky letter.

A in basket

A outside top

 A outside egg instagram

  Happy Easter from the Noa’s!

nbc noas

Without Caution

When I was in college, a group from the restaurant where I worked decided to go skydiving. There was a sign-up sheet posted for several weeks, and without even thinking, I was one of the first people to scribble my name down. And Clayton’s.

The day that we trekked out to Quincy, it was a typical overcast, gray Florida afternoon and storms were threatening. We had to wait a couple of hours while they finished up a skydiving exhibition. While waiting, the ever-level headed Clayton asked an instructor about back-up parachutes. "You hardly ever need to use them,” the instructor assured him. “I’ve never seen someone have to use their back-up ‘chute.”

About eight seconds later, one of the stunt skydivers caught everyone’s attention as he zipped through the sky. The pro’s could tell something was amiss, and someone casually noted, “He had to pull his emergency ‘chute!”

Fantastic.

Despite my parents’ reservations (we waited until the moment before boarding the plane to tell them), despite Clayton’s terrified gaze as he mouthed I love you from inside the miniature plane, despite watching a professional employ his emergency parachute, despite the near zero visibility, I was completely exhilarated. I don’t even remember being nervous. Just utterly excited to hurl myself out of an airplane 15,000 feet above the earth.

Since that day, due to age or being jaded or simply becoming more aware of the state of this insane, indiscriminate world, all sorts of irrational fears have seeped into my conscious. The most ridiculous of them all—when compared to my whereabouts around 2:30pm that day in Quincy—is flying.

This year I’ve decided to join the one word trend. Now, I’m not making an appointment to get my word tattooed across my forehead in Sanskrit or carving a Pinterest sculpture out of recycled soap or anything. But just a few weeks in, knowing this word is hanging right there in the front of my mind has pushed me a teeny bit out of my comfort zone.

So, after all this babbling build-up, my word is reckless.

I know that word can take on all a whole ugly mess of negative connotations. And for some people, they should probably perform a very unsafe, illegal u-turn away from anything that resembles recklessness. But at this point in my life, teetering on the edge of my twenties, navigating my way through new motherhood, justifying too much worry as responsibility,

I’m ready for a little reckless.

I’m ready to release my death grip on being/thinking I am in control of every twist and turn. I’m not in control, can never really be. The pursuit of that illusion wreaks destruction.

Instead, I want to become a reckless
Jesus follower, who loves those who are offended by that but doesn’t care if people are offended by that.

Mom, who rolls around in the dirt without a thought about the future load of grass-stained laundry and sings along with the Children’s Pandora station no matter who might be watching in the next car.

Wife, who greets my husband every day like he has been gone for weeks and kisses without explanation.

Friend, who gives generously and listens genuinely when it is least convenient for me and most convenient for others.

Citizen, who looks for opportunities to help strangers with a hand, an ear or a few dollars.

Runner, who forgets about the pace or distance that’s comfortable and chases those that are unreasonable but entirely possible.

So. Let’s get a little out of control, shall we?

Therapy

Sometimes, having a new baby can get a little…tense. And you know who gets to bear the brunt of displaced emotions that you won’t direct towards that little peanut? The guy who is responsible for getting you into this mess. And once in awhile the dog who has absolutely no idea what “responsible behavior” means even though you are shouting it at her repeatedly.

In an effort to not exert physical violence on loved ones, I escape. This week, I found time for my favorite drugs.

A good write. Tucked away in a shady parking spot, windows down to let the delicious day float in, while the coffee bean napped in her car seat. For NINETY MINUTES. Followed by a walk through the breeze. Hello, bliss.

maybookA hatAnd a good run. On a crisp, not-cold-once-you-get going, dusk covered night. Hello, clarity.

A joovy

And once those two things are accomplished, I become a likeable person again, one capable of rational conversation and problem-solving as opposed to plate breaking and shin kicking.

Okay fine. These helped, too.

MMs

Normally, I don’t wear pink.

But life is full of exceptions, now isn’t it? Sure wouldn’t be the first time I pretentiously turned my nose up at something only to find myself eventually embracing it.

Facebook. Emoticons. Drinking on the weekdays. All kinds of stuff, really.

Friday

Maybe it was knowing that Saturday morning I would be donning the brightest, most glaring shade of hot pink that kept me in an undeterred good mood Friday. Whatever it was, mama had a really, really great day.

It started with interviewing the world’s sweetest couple for an ad campaign I’m working on. Their spirits filled the room with joy, and when they told me they had just celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary, well, then I had to fight to keep myself together and not get all high-pitched-squeaky-baby-voice all up on them. I almost affectionately touched the woman’s cheek. Thank God I reeled that in. Also, they have a dog named Salsa. So yeah, I’m not exaggerating their awesomeness.

After filling out the necessary paperwork to officially adopt them as grandparents, I had another stop to make.

PA132308Got some sweet swag and my lucky bib number. Just kidding, 282’s not really my favorite number. It’s 337.

bib

I swear there’s an excellent explanation for that photo filminess. I’ll get to that in a minute. I fall in love with Williamsburg every time I head up there, and since I had to pick up my packet in the ‘Burg, I stayed there and worked for a few hours. Coffee and free wi-fi would make my day under normal circumstances, but where I headed next was anything but normal. 

Braving the expected crowds and snobby salespeople, I took myself to Verizon with my two-year old Droid. And then I took myself home with an iPhone 4s and made technological love to Siri. This is what happens when my husband leaves me alone to handle my phone upgrade. It’s his own fault. So that bib photo? The protective film is definitely still on the camera lens. I am so not ready to own an iPhone.

And maybe you have a lot of self-facing camera lens photos comin’ your way in the next few weeks. I just can’t stop.

Case in point:

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When I was in Williamsburg, I found an article I wrote in a local magazine! Of course the byline will tell you otherwise because copywriting is sneaky like that. I was pretty jazzed since it was so unexpected; I turn those suckers in and the powers-that-be make the publishing decisions.

So me, my article and my iPhone (probably going to stop capitalizing that “P” from here on out, fyi) hunkered down for a night of pre-race fueling with pizza and beer and Dateline. Love me some weekend Dateline mysteries.

It might help you to know that Clayton is on call this weekend, explaining his conspicuous absence from most of my life for about 72 hours. He had a brief spell free from the on-call chaos Friday night, so we slipped out and found a case for my precious Siri. I’d already dropped her twice. When we came back home, we made the regrettable decision to not park 2.5 miles away from our apartment on a public street and parked next to a curb in our complex. Not blocking anyone, just minding our own illegally parked business. That would be the beginning of the end of my good mood.

Saturday

Clayton’s phone rings at 1 a.m. We are all really happy about it; it’s so annoying how people’s life-threatening traumatic injuries are, like, so inconvenient for me. He needed to go to the hospital for a surgery. About two minutes after I hear the door shut, it opens again.

Clayton: Nat, did you move the car?

Me: What? Why would I do that? No.

Clayton: Crap. Then it got towed.

And that’s when I committed to never, ever, ever living in an apartment or townhouse complex again. Ever.

He didn’t have a choice to handle that little snafu at the moment, and I certainly wasn’t going to be bothered with the whereabouts of our leased motor vehicle during my beauty rest. But at 5:30 a.m. we had to deal with the situation because we needed two cars this morning. I sort of half dressed for the race, half didn’t brush my teeth, and we headed to the Land Where Reasonable Regulations Go to Die, aka the towing company storage yard. We made a pit stop at the ATM, of course, because tow companies only accept cash and profanity as forms of payment. After Clayton selected, “Other Amount” and typed “Firstborn Child,” we had enough to cover the fees for the four hours our car was professionally stored.

You’d think that I would harbor less resentment after having my car towed at FSU on the first day of every single semester for five years.

I had to get my sleepy tail home to finish prepping for the race (okay, to take more self portraits that I’ve since decided aren’t exactly high quality content). With the towing hold-up and my getting lost—don’t blame her, I didn’t ask Siri for help—I arrived at the race 15 minutes before the start.

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The run itself was gorgeous and brutal; nearly 4 miles of the 6.2 were on hilly trails. Williamsburg is pretty, but she sure is a beyotch to run with. Luckily, and without the intention of “training” for this race, I’d done a few trail runs since the half marathon, which I think made a huge difference. All time goals were kicked out the window along the first uphill stint on gravel, but at least I didn’t want to keel over at the end. Plus, there were walkers aplenty, so I finally wasn’t bringing up the rear of a road race.

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Since it was a 45-minute trek back home, I rehydrated while still in Williamsburg. Official race day tradition? Most definitely.

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Snippets

I have no long narratives to share with you at the moment, so all you get to munch on are snippets. Unless you’d like me to recount in expletive-laden detail about the debacle that was Florida State vs. Wake Forest. I didn’t think so.

I was escorted out of Ross by the security guard for having a smoothie. Apparently they now have a ban on food and drink? Maybe it’s only for drinks that are pretending to be food…? I know, I’m kind of a badass. And Ross really is the epitome of unforgiving high standards.

Why do all athletic shoe designers swear that chicks want pink, purple or pink and purple shoes? We’re not all six years old. I rebelled and shopped in the men’s section. Again, me = badass.

PA042273During the half marathon, I had to fight my shorts from riding up for the last four miles. They were quite stubborn about the whole thing. So I bought my first pair of running tights. That’s alotta spandex on alotta thigh. If you happen to see me plugging along out there, avert your eyes and we’ll both pretend nothing ever happened.

This sort of thing occurs on a daily basis. Please note Bryson’s stray left foot. He is so excited when Clayton gets home that he pretty much tolerates anything. The men in my life are weird. 

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And then last week I got a nice dose of Reality Check with a side of Humiliation. One of the reviewers of a brochure draft I wrote left this comment: “This is so wrong I don’t even know where to start.” Well done, me.

“The Meatloaf!”

About 10 days ago, after staring blankly into our bare freezer until I felt a hint of frostbite, I finally grabbed a pound of ground beef to thaw. I never have any idea what I’m going to do with raw meat once it’s thawed, I just feel like taking meat out of the freezer and putting it on the counter gets me some sort of Wife Points. Once it was mostly thawed, it went back in the refrigerator. Again, this shows at least a shred of preparation and forethought. Even if my entire preparation plan consists of “Thaw meat.”

Clayton came home a little early, then proceeded to fall asleep on the couch. Don’t worry, I’m not about to nitpick about naps. This pot’s just a little too black for all that kettle name-calling. But I did sneak out to go to the gym while he was snoozing. At the gym, I remembered we only ever make two meals involving a pound of ground beef, and we had none of the ingredients for tacos. Meatloaf it was.

To my surprise, or because I had already affixed a “Cook Me!” post-it note to the ground beef—I can’t really remember the details from that long ago—my husband was already working away at that meatloaf when I got home. This allows me the opportunity to still earn a few WP’s without actually cooking by saying, “Hey, I was going to do that!” And then quickly getting out of earshot in case the husband wants to let me follow through on that.

I showered and fixed us two massive salads. The meatloaf was already cooked when we sat down to eat our salads but, seriously, they were like entrée-sized portions, so Clayton put it back in the oven so it wouldn’t get cold. And then the enchanting world of fall television premiers locked us in. Clayton scoffs at oven timers, trusting his laser sharp memory and keen relationship with red meat to sense when food is ready.

So this happened.

meatloaf2

Let’s rewind back to the previous night. The husband wanted to run, and I suggested he try a long run because, now that I can say it, he had decided to run the half marathon. By “long,” I meant 6-8 miles. He doesn’t really ever run unless I con him into it, and then he tops out at about three miles. A bit of the ADD in him. He wanders back in, about a half hour after I’d expected him, and starts to stretch.

“So, how did it go?” I ask, curious as to why he’s not really talking about his big deal run.

“It went good.” Conspicuous pause. “I did 10 miles.”

Of course he did. Of course he runs a handful of times in the past two weeks, heads out one random Tuesday evening and busts out 10 miles. Congratu-freaking-lations. It’s not like other people around here have to train for five months to do something like that. Totally rad for you, dude. Totally. F’ing. Rad.

After this little incident, I’m not going to say I gloated over the meatloaf charring. But I’m not going to say I didn’t gloat, either.

A girl needs to have the upper hand once in awhile. And sweet and sour chicken made for an absolutely delicious upper hand.

chinese food

Recap

Okay fine. I’ll write more about running.

Clayton never intended to run the half marathon with me. But after I decided not to run in my first choice of race–the Virginia Beach Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon–because I didn’t feel ready and my husband witnessed a full on breakdown after a long run gone wrong a few weeks ago, he stepped in to rescue my sanity. And I’m so glad he did…even if I trained for almost six months and he trained with five runs. We won’t get into that right now.

With our fall schedule filling up at lightning speed, this half marathon was virtually my only option once I dipped out of the RnR. Had I been forced to continue training for another month or two before actually racing, I don’t know if I could have done it. I am very close to my limit of running out of training necessity as opposed to running for “pleasure.” I will not miss those weekend long runs and ensuing nausea. Not even a little.

The eve of the race left me really excited. I didn’t have any nerves or jitters; they wouldn’t have fit in my body along with the Olive Garden soup, breadsticks and linguine anyway. Carbo loading. Look it up.

On race day, I woke up at 5 a.m. so I’d have plenty of time for the important things. Like drinking coffee. And taking self portraits.

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My “Did I really agree to this?” husband got his wake-up-ear-nibble around 5:45. We left the apartment around 6:15 and headed to Fort Eustis, the military base hosting the race. To enter the base, there’s obviously security and strict regulations. The security officers were actually making everyone get out of their car and searching all vehicles, which created a little backup when we arrived. Luckily, they opened an extra lane and we were able to sneak on over.

When the search-and-report cop approached, he asked for Clayton’s driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. When we handed it to him, things got interesting.

“This expired in July,” the officer said.

As soon as I heard the word “expired,” I knew he was talking about the insurance card, and I could have sketched an entire picture of our kitchen, including the exact spot on the kitchen table where my new insurance card has been sitting for three weeks.

“Nat, this is expired. Do you know where your new card is?”

“Yes…it’s on the table. At home.”

And that’s when the officer sweetly piped in with, “Well then you’re going to have to go get it from the table.” He kindly gave us directions out of the base, and that was that.

Insert very quick freak out here.

We went to the exit, knowing full well there was no way we had time to go back to our apartment and return in time for the race. Then, rising out of the pavement, in almost palatial, life-saving stature, was a Holiday Inn Express. We pulled in, parked and got our warm-up walk on.

We passed a duo of port-a-potties and, as time ticked away and the entrance gate seemed impossibly far away, we took advantage. If you feel like your dignity would benefit from being taken down a peg, sign up for a road race. That’s all I have to say about that.

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We made it to the entrance and zipped right in front of the huge line of cars to get top-secret pedestrian clearance with only our ID’s and ankle socks. When the security guard informed us that the starting line was a mile and a half away, it was clear life was going to get real awkward real fast. We’d have to hitch a ride with a fellow runner and/or military serviceman to avoid that exhausting walk.

And then we learned just how awesome our legs would look if we lived in New York City because of how awful we are at hailing passing cars. Clayton’s attempts only resulted in drivers waving at him, possibly wishing him luck in case he actually did make it to the race before Sunday. I didn’t even rack up any attempts; I stayed on the sidewalk to strategize and shout out Clayton’s next play.

“Red Tahoe. Wait. Wait. Now! Go! Red, red, red! DANG IT! Hold on, okay, white Tundra coming up. Tundra, do it! Now! TUNDRA!”

Inconceivably, this plan bombed. We gave up, hung our heads and started truckin’ it. Then a darling couple with an adorable dog pulled over and asked us if we needed a ride. We thanked them continuously for the entire ride and told them it was our first half marathon. The guy was also running, and every time we passed each other during the race (meaning when he would already have hit the turn-around and we were still a good ways away from it), he’d cheer us on. And he was there as we approached the finish line offering creative suggestions: ‘”Race each other to the finish line!” Or, how about our marriage survives this assault and my husband lets me finish first. Yeah, I like that idea better. But he did incite us to sprint to the finish, which is always way cooler.

The race itself turned out much closer to a best case scenario than any of the nightmares I had beforehand. The first four miles went by quickly. Miles six through eight were tough and dragged on and on until the end of time. One of my earphones shorted out at mile eight, leaving me with only the instrumental and background portions of my playlist for the rest of the run. If I had the extra energy, I would have filled in those missing lyrics for the enjoyment of all my fellow runners. 

I tried to think of the race as three smaller runs: five miles, four miles and four (plus 0.1) miles, so mile nine was a mental milestone. An unexpected burst of motivation and momentum bombarded me at mile 10.5, and we picked up the pace. Until that motivation turned the corner and started running uphill. Then she went bye-bye. Miles 11 to 13 were, by far, the hardest. Our (My) pace slowed dramatically, and even though I knew I was going to make it to the end, I thought it might take me another hour to get through those last two miles. The Garmin was not moving and I thought I might be on a treadmill. Clayton was a hero during those two miles and would not under any circumstances have let me quit. Luckily, I was still strong enough mentally to do the same for myself. Plus, my husband pointed to a walker and said, possibly too loudly, “Don’t quit like that guy.”   

When we rounded the final corner and faced the straight away, the small crowd combined with our chauffeur-stranger-friend yelling at us to race gave us a last push to “sprint.” And 13.13 miles were in the books.

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After we walked off the rush of lactic acid and urge to collapse in tears, we waited around to snack on oranges and Gatorade, hoping maybe this race would hand out age group awards based on heart and spunk, rather than finishing time. No such luck. And then we remembered we had to walk around the world to get back to our car. It was slow going, and I had certainly lost the embarrassment of stopping for breaks by this point. No good Samaritans stopped this time, and we were so gross, we wouldn’t have actually accepted any offers. Well, Clayton wouldn’t have. I would have agreed to strip down naked if they wanted me to. That walk sucked. 

Our drive home was a thrilling mix of jubilation, Gilmore Girls-style fast talking, nausea, chocolate milk, Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee, calf stretching and more jubilation.

The rest of the day was spent dual-massaging each other’s feet and calves, napping and watching Florida State lose in typical fashion. But I gotta be honest—I’m going to be in a thoroughly undeterred good mood this weekend no matter what any football scoreboard says.