Happy Thanksgiving!

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Nope, the incredible outburst of toys does not indicate an early Christmas. We just. don’t. care.

I’m working on the painting project from hell and really can’t be bothered with directing toy cleanup as well. Ever since the marathon in mid-November, I’ve been trying to get ready for Thanksgiving break,  five and a half days of uninterrupted painting our bookshelf and entryway that have been waiting to see some action since late July.

As Daniel hung my curtain rods last weekend before the paint-a-thon was about to commence, I had a revelation.

“The yellow’s got to go,” I told Daniel with color-authority in my voice. “I just don’t like it.”

Surprisingly, he didn’t object… too much. “Are you sure you want to repaint the walls?” he asked me.

“No, I don’t want to, but I just don’t like it.” (The paint chip had looked like more of a neutral color than a bright yellow. Others agreed with me.) He didn’t respond for a moment, and then suggested we go brown this time around.

“Ok,” I thought, “I can work with that.”

Wednesday morning we rushed through Alice’s school work and  ran to Lowes for some more supplies, including brown paint chips, but it was mid-afternoon until I had the space cleared and was ready to go, only to discover I had about a cup of primer in the can.

pre painting

I thought I was going back to Lowes until Daniel convinced me to use some primer in a five gallon bucket his father had given us. I had tried to use it on the walls earlier, but hated it. It was full of bits of dirt/dried paint, plus not handy to use because of the five gallon bucket aspect (i.e. I can’t get the lid off without help).

But to make Daniel happy, I got the junk strained out of a gallon of “his” primer and was finally! painting away at 4pm when the phone rings; it’s Daniel’s dad.

“Uh… ok, I’ll tell her,” I heard Daniel say. After some more conversation, Daniel walks into the living room and tells me that “his” primer isn’t going to work after all; it’s not an adhesive primer.

At this point, my man felt badly that he led me astray and decided to make it up to me. First he drove me during Thanksgiving-Eve-rush-hour to a shop that sells Benjamin Moore paint Ok, his dad recommended a certain Benjamin Moore paint for the finish on the bookcase, but Daniel told me to get all my paint there, including the gallon for the walls and the primer.

I’ve spent years! wondering if better paint really is everything people say it is (specifically one coat coverage which will be really! nice for re-doing my living room walls), so now I’m excited to find out. But it got better because my man also took the family out to eat since we didn’t go last Sunday when we were planning to due to Alice’s cold. (Daniel, you’re forgiven!)

Finally painting again by 7:30pm and spent the rest of the evening there.

Thursday morning I’m pumped to break out the green primer (not the actual finish color, again a recommendation by Daniel’s dad), and this is what it looked like at lunchtime.

Thanksgiving after lunch

Things are going along very nicely until I decide to take a trip… off the ladder. I managed not to dump the tray of paint I was moving, but I did sacrifice my thigh. Oh my, it hurt. I didn’t look at it right away and forgot about it until the next morning when I bumped it (ouch!).

bruise

As I’m cleaning up Thursday afternoon, getting ready to go to my brother’s for Thanksgiving dinner, I feel a tickle in my throat. “Must be from all the paint fumes,” I decide and continue on my way. By the end of the evening, it’s official… I’m not feeling well, and neither is Daniel.

Today we look mostly like this:

Friday's outlook

 

nat sleeping

 

Ian and Natalie

 

My post-Thanksgiving thoughts include trying to be thankful I have a daughter who can share her cold with me, and also fantasies about a man or woman wielding a paintbrush and expending a lot more energy than I have. I did manage a few hours of painting this morning, but have now resorted to the couch… and waiting a few more days to find out if expensive paint is actually worth what we spent on it.

Hope your Thanksgiving was great, and you can rest, relax, and enjoy the weekend.

The Big Surprise!

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“So… how did it go?” is the question I’m being asked a lot this past week. I’m writing this post not to boast about completing a marathon, but so that I can remember how it actually was (not the glorified account that my brain will sanitize over time to make me believe it was all peaches and cream) and also to remember the biggest surprise the day brought.

To be honest, I didn’t allow myself to think about the actual race much before Sunday. I did a lot of packing… a pre-race bag, a during-the-race bag for Daniel to carry, and an aftermath-bag. But I knew if I thought about the actual running of 26.2 miles, I’d be at high risk of needing some serious anti-anxiety meds.

So Sunday morning, as I was finishing up a very important task in the porta potty about 50 feet from the starting line while the first lines of the Star-Spangled Banner filled the air, I wasn’t particularly nervous. I didn’t know how many runners would be participating in the Harrisburg Marathon. The two half marathons I ran boasted over 5,000 runners, a literal mass of humanity at the starting line. As I hurriedly exited the porta potty and made my way to the back of the crowd of runners where I knew I’d spend the rest of the day, I was surprised to see an “old” friend (I’m talking babies-in-the-church-nursery together), and it took a moment for it to register who was waving to me. I had known my friend would be in the field of runners that morning, but I didn’t expect to see him. The other two races I have run contained a number of people I knew but never actually saw during the race.

We talked for a minute and pretty soon we were moving hesitantly toward the starting line… and then, we were crossing the line… no turning back.

As we ran the first half mile together, we realized our paces were compatible and we had the same goal (to cross the finish line), so we stuck together, two rookies running into the unknown. I felt like I was dreaming; the big day was here. Eighteen weeks of training and I was running those first steps; the reality of 26.2 miles was the furthest thing from my mind.

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Beautiful trail beside the Susquehanna River – mile 5ish

But I’ve left out a very important part of the morning; my support wagon, photographer and main cheerleader, aka Daniel, was also by my side on his bike that very cold morning (33 degrees). His plan was to meet me at four different spots along the race route; however we quickly realized he could ride alongside me without being a nuisance to the other runners. In fact, several runners said they enjoyed Daniel’s company.

My friend and I talked intermittently, and the first 11 miles passed without any significant happenings except the for the beautiful views of the glass-like surface of the Susquehanna River and the fall leaves displaying their final glory of the season.

river

About halfway into mile 12, Daniel had ridden ahead to meet another friend who came to cheer for me, and it began to dawn on me—I was almost to the halfway point of a very long race… ONLY! half. way. and I was not feeling good. In fact, I was experiencing tunnel vision, which is what happens before I pass out. Thankfully, instead of freaking out since I’d never experienced this during a run, I grabbed my Gatorade bottle and chugged it. I got my head back in the game and ran to the halfway point where I told my friend to keep going, that I needed to walk.

And walk I did… and drank and drank and ate. I also gave my fuel belt to Daniel who had joined me and immediately began to feel a little better with the pressure taken off my stomach. Daniel reassured me that whenever he’s on a long bike ride, there’s always a time he feels horrible too, but it passes and he feels better.

He was right. As I walked/ran through mile 14, I began to feel better and realized the cold temperature duped me into thinking I didn’t need to drink as much as I normally do… rookie mistake.

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Mile 15 -Starting to feel better. I’ll blame the slight dehydration for not thinking about the fact that I’m signing mile “51”…. oops!
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Definitely feeling better!

Then it got colder and windier, so cold that the camera stopped working. But my trusty sidekick, Bicycle-Man, stuck with me even though he was quite chilly.

For miles 18-20, we ventured into the hilliest section of the course, a paved path through a wooded area, and it was breath-taking… or maybe I was just working hard. During these miles I met the spectator who brought the biggest smile to my face during the day as she stood at the top of a particularly steep hill and yelled, “This hill sucks, but you don’t.” It’s amazing what a little cheering from complete strangers can do for your spirits.

As I, literally, came out of the woods and headed back toward the river, I was feeling good. I was feeling alive. Daniel helped me count down each mile and to concentrate on catching people in front of me. An added bonus, our camera decided to work again.

However, during mile 22 I somehow got confused and thought I was heading into mile 24. Oh the sheer agony when I passed mile marker 23 thinking it should be saying “24.” I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach as I realized I had three more miles to go, not two. I soon saw the bridge spanning the river in the distance and knew that the finish line was across the river… So. Far. Away.

This was the only time during the day that I wanted to quit. I wanted to sit on one of the many inviting benches I was passing, stare out at the river, and completely ignore the runners no more than ten feet from my back. But I didn’t; if for no other reason, I knew Daniel would stand on his head and possibly go into cardiac arrest if I did that. So I fought through those last miles, tooth and nail, still trying to catch people in front of me, knowing I needed to drink but abhorring the thought of putting any more cold liquid into my body.

I came upon the bridge and finished strong, not sure where the last burst of energy came from that carried me the last half mile (pure adrenaline?) toward the clock, which read 5:07:20 as I crossed. I assured the EMS attendants I was not going to collapse, and I was officially finished!

The end

The most excruciating part of the day was the walk to the car, down 20 or so leg-splintering steps and across the parking lot. Daniel loaded his bike, and we were off… looking for the nearest cheesesteak joint. Yes, cheesesteaks and a chocolate milkshake… amazing.

The biggest surprise of the day—the one that keeps my mind spinning every time I think about it—is NOT that I feel proud of myself. No, the biggest emotion I feel as I reflect on Sunday is gratitude. I’m thankful for the companionship of my friend during the first 13 miles. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. I’m also grateful toward the hundreds of people who gave up their Sunday morning to stand in the freezing cold, handing out cup after cup of much-needed-liquid or who stood at an intersection directing runners and traffic. I’m the one with the supposed “glory,”  but it is also very humbling to be waited-on and encouraged by complete strangers for over five hours on a cold and windy morning in order to achieve that “glory.”

And I continue to feel intense appreciation for my tireless cheerleader, Daniel. I did not expect to come away from this day feeling as though we shared marathon day, but in the end it was certainly a shared experience. At the end of my life, I’m sure November 10, 2013 will be found on my “marriage highlight reel.” Daniel, I cannot thank you enough, and I’m convinced I had a better run because of you.

Life is full of surprises, some big, some little, some good and some not-so-good. While you’re running the marathon of life, don’t be afraid to stand at the top of the hill and yell to your family, friends or even perfect strangers “Depression sucks, but you don’t,” or “Betrayal sucks, but you don’t,” or “Fill-in-the-blank-with-any-hardship sucks, but you don’t.” You may never know the full effect your encouragement can have, but it’s probably bigger than you think.