photo dump: brown belt edition

Our “Tae Kwon Dan” has earned his brown belt which really, truly is a huge ass deal, at least to me, when one considers his SPD problems and struggles while he sometimes now must spar with light contact. People touching him…touching, not hugging. Most people can’t imagine the struggle that is. Even those closest to him sometimes don’t get it. Thank goodness his Tae Kwon Do Master teacher does get it.

How far he has come since that tiny 7 year old white belt student!

Still the smallest but size really doesn’t matter in Tae Kwon Do…neither does gender.

Having fun, on the other hand, matters. It matters a lot.

Good bye blue belt.

Hello brown belt!

play it again: that’s what friends are for

originally published May 8, 2012 and because right now, my girl, Tracey is rocking her final marathon. If you’re reading this go tweet encouragement and congratulations right now to her because I said so and because she is seriously kick-asstastic and family.

You gotta love social media. Yes, I know some days you can’t help but hate it…the drama, the “vague-booking”, the time suck. But some days you just have to love social media. The last couple of days I have loved it.

My friend, Tracey, was running her very first marathon back home in Pittsburgh. She trained well for it and, thanks to Facebook, I was able to follow her in her training all along the way. I was so excited for her…her very first marathon!!! I was also a little nervous for her too…a worrisome foot injury late in her training schedule and the typical race-eve freak out…I couldn’t help but be worried a little…it’s what I do. More than anything, I wanted to be there…to cheer for her at the start, along the route and at the finish…because I know how much fun it can be…but more importantly, because Tracey is my friend and I wanted to be there just as I have felt like I have been throughout her training that she has shared. I set my alarm to remind me while at work early, early Sunday morning, west coast time, to send out a shout out wishing her luck and I began to follow her posted split times as well as #PittsburghMarathon live tweet updates.

Okay, fine. It wasn’t like I was there but then again it was…kind of sort of.

It was then on my Instagram feed I saw my friend Kim had posted an amazing shot of one of the elite runners running past her. It was a great capture indeed…air under the guy’s feet as if he was running through the air rather than on the pavement…you know, like us

mere mortals who try to run. I KNOW that it had to be exciting as I once got to see running greatness run past me…in the opposite direction…while running in the San Jose Rock and Roll Half Marathon. Excited I messaged Kim and told her how Tracey was running in the same event and just might be running by her soon…okay, later…still Tracey was headed her way! Kim messaged me back asking, “How can I spot her? I’m at mile 16. Would love to cheer her on.” Kim and I send back and forth messages with me trying to describe Tracey and then I send her a screen shot of Tracey with her running bib. An hour later I receive another message, “We just saw Tracey! I think we gave her a nice boost at mile 16!“, followed by, “Wish I could have lined up a few more folks to cheer for her.

Oh yeah, Kim is good people. She even came to my aid during BlogHer 11 with a dose of Tylenol…yes, it was part of her calling card but it helped me out and how can one ever forget that…oh, and I enjoyed sitting with her and sharing during a session or two. Even better, thanks to social media, I get to enjoy Kim’s company a lot and get to remind myself of the wonderful things that I miss about back home in Pittsburgh and that which makes Pittsburgh Someplace Special. Some pretty good people live there…like Tracey…like Kim.

It was after the race that I saw a posting on her Facebook wall from Tracey:

I’m home, icing every part of my body, reflecting on the day. A marathon isn’t fun or easy but parts of it did rock…My teammates, friends, fellow athletes! Laura Scarborough Setting up a surprise cheering section from 3000 miles away! The band at mile 9.29 playing Take the Skin Heads Bowling! Getting hosed down by a hot fireman in E Liberty! Knowing my Dad was with me every step of the way! My coaches Phil Thompson & Drew McCabe crossing the finish line with me! Best running partner Kathie O’Donnell finishing the last mile together!

Reading that made me cry…cry happy tears because although we can’t be face to face every day and we can’t just hop in a car and drive on over to be there for one another, I have some pretty amazing friends out there and thanks to the interwebs and a whole lot of social media I know that we can and are there for each other to support and encourage each other…to cry together…to pray together…to laugh together…tell me how and where to bury a body, you know, if I had to…to just be there for each other. It’s a small circle still it is a circle that has expanded my world in a way that I could never imagine…even when I am feeling alone here in Manteca. I have some pretty awesome friends…friends like Tracey, like Ann, like Kim, like Kari, like Kale, like Jenn, like Bill…I am so lucky…even if you all aren’t physically just around the corner.

Love you Tracey! Love you Kim! I hope that someday I can hook you two up…perhaps while taking in a game at PNC Park.

And one more time, congratulations Tracey!!! I am thrilled and honored to have cheered you on this weekend. You. Are. Awesome.

final marathon

When accomplishing something pretty amazing, most everyone can name at least one person who inspired them. When it comes to running and who inspires me two people immediately come to mind. There’s Kari, whom I hold personally responsible for the fact that I do run no matter how slow I go; and there is Tracey, a high school classmate and dear friend who remains my touchstone and connection to my “back home“…and because she pretty much adopted me into the Baker clan, my sister. Tracey can and will run in almost any crazy condition and considering the winter that was this past winter, I know she did while training for this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon. It’s kind of hard to whine about your running conditions in the Central Valley California when your friend is talking about ice and snow and freezing rain and freaking wind chill factors when sharing her running updates on Facebook.

Then there is the fact that she looks so damn good while running and looking like she is having a great time.

Apologies, Tracey, for snagging this picture from your Facebook wall. I couldn’t help myself because, yes, you look so damn good and like you are having fun. I would be the runner soaked in sweat with sweat drying so I look like a salt lick…a salt lick with a beet red face which would likely scare you and any spectators. I blame the ginger gene for the red face.

But look at her!

I’m inspired to run right now; except for the fact that it is nearing midnight and the Big Top is slumbering.

I received a text from Tracey early Friday morning that made me smile and cry sad and happy tears. This Sunday in Pittsburgh will be Tracey’s last marathon.

No, not her last run.

Thank goodness!

But, for so many reasons, it will be her last 26.2 mile race. And I was sad. Then she told me how she has read and re-read this particular blog post…and then the tears were happy tears filled with so much love.  I’ll be at work, again, but I am looking forward to following my dear friend and running crush via text alerts as she rocks this marathon in the ‘burgh. If I had the power and influence, I would make sure that all the hot firemen were all along the route cheering her on. I don’t have that influence and power…alas.

But I will be cheering my dear friend on 3,000 miles away in spirit, in my heart and via text messages because that’s what friends are for.

You’ve got this girlfriend!

I run like a big girl

So…

How did it go?

I’m upright. I’m walking. I am managing going up and down the stairs under The Big Top. It hurts a little but I’m going up and down those stairs. I guess you could say I did okay with the half marathon comeback.

The day before the race, the boys joined me at the expo in downtown Modesto because what else were they going to do that day? Help Hollie and Ben move when Bill is still not 100% cleared from heavy lifting? Watch Netflix and play video games? It’s a beautiful day, let’s hit the expo, see what else they have and grab some grub because this mother runner needs to fuel up.

Oh and take my picture please because I’m wearing a cute dress…Old Navy!…and I am having a great hair day.

While at the expo, I made the decision to drop out of my age division and sign up for the Athena division, basically the big girl division. This involves stepping on a scale in the expo much like The Biggest Loser without the dramatic music and giant numbers flashing above your head. Still one must step on a scale and everyone within ear shot now knows how much you weigh. It’s just a number, I tell myself. A number that is now bigger than my darling husband; who, naturally, dropped about 10 pounds so far during his post STEMI recovery. I can’t hate him because I am certain that I can run a half marathon and he can not. So I am now officially in the big girl race division.

It’s all about that bass.

Back home, it was time to check out the swag,

and get my gear ready because come 5:00 in the morning, it is not the time to be looking for those socks or ear buds.

This kind of pre-gaming probably wasn’t the best idea but I reasoned it was to support my favorite dance team and studio…a little wine tasting, a little bit of good food and a little bit of shopping…the perfect way to unwind those pre-race jitters.

Bedtime soon followed because 5 am was going to come soon enough.

See?

A little oatmeal, blueberries, yogurt and coffee…definitely coffee and I was ready to go.

This lady is why I signed up for this race in the first place. She told me there was wine. She also told me that it would be her first half marathon. I warned that after about 2 miles I would take off and settle into my pace but I promised us both that this would be fun. It would be. The atmosphere at the start was happy, friendly and very comfortable. We were among friends all looking forward to a beautiful morning run.

Soon enough, I ran past Sandra and settled into my own pace. It was faster than I had planned but I felt good and I felt strong. It was about 58° under the shady college neighborhood so I figured that I might as well keep going at this pace. I soon passed this dapper gentleman above who was race walking and literally passing runners of all shapes and sizes. He smiled at me as I passed him saying “Great day for a stroll isn’t it?”

“Perfect day!” I agreed as I waved and ran on past him. Later I found out that he was just 12 minutes behind me crossing the finish line race walking all the way.

At the 7 mile mark water station, I could see that I was not going to maintain the fast pace I was running. No problem. It was a comfortable pace for a few miles but definitely not the long haul. I was planning to finish strong. It has been five years since I last ran a half marathon race. There was no PR planned for the day; just a respectable finish under a 12 minute pace. So at 7 miles, I walked through the water station. Drank some water. Drank some electrolytes and had a small snack. Back to running settling in a 11 minute pace, I decided that I would walk through the water stations.

And I would most definitely smile and wave at the photographers. Big girls run and look good while doing it!

It got warm soon enough. Not as warm as I imagined that it would be. Still, it was warm. I’m glad that I chose to allow short walk breaks. I was encouraged that I stayed with most of the pack that I had been running with since the 5K mark. The race organizers were true to their word. This was a fast course. Soon enough my pack and I were on 9th Street trying to power through because we were but 2 miles from being done when zooming past us was the marathon winner, Jesus Campos! With a series of 5:35 miles, he definitely ran past us all like he stole something complete with a police escort. We all cheered in our pack and found the energy to push through.

I was literally 6 minutes behind the marathon winner and ahead of the female marathon winner. Yes, I ran the half marathon. Still, I was beyond thrilled with this time. Just 3 minutes slower than my personal best and after a five year hiatus this was super…even better than what I had expected too!

Even better, I did well running in the Athena/Big Girl division placing 9th out of a 30.

Big girls do run and run sometimes faster than even they imagine…at an 11:55 average pace!

I’ll gladly take it and celebrate it.

After an ice bath.

You think running 13.1 miles is tortuous and hard!

and a massage…

and resting while rocking these sweet Pro Compression socks.

and along with a lot of hydration, a little celebration, thanks to the Modesto Marathon.

be on the lookout

If you happen to find yourself in and around Modesto come Sunday morning, be on the lookout for these sweet running tights. I will be wearing them while running The Modesto Half Marathon.

Current weather conditions promise it to be a very bright, sunny and WARM race.

I might die!

Kidding.

Still I just might because I am not a hot weather runner. Ignore the the half marathons past…The American River Parkway Half, The Disneyland Half, The San Jose Rock and Roll Half…all ran in the heat. Those were more than 4 years ago and I STILL hated running in the heat then as I do now…perhaps even more now because hot flashes make it even hotter…take your breath away and perhaps suffocate you hotter.

Yes, I just might die.

But at least I know I trained well in spite of the last two runs of my training which absolutely, positively sucked. I have been hydrating well all week. And I have some sweet running tights and equally colorful kicks to run through Mo-town come Sunday morning!

If your in my neck of the woods I do hope that you will come cheer me on. I need lots of cowbell and cheering. I won’t promise a PR time like the inaugural Stockton Half or even negative splits like my very first half marathon race because I am 5 years older and slower and this is a comeback for me. But I do promise for you lots of fun cheering racers on and a beer and wine garden with food trucks galore at the finish line.

But if you aren’t in my neck of the woods and want to be a creeper still want to cheer me on you can sign up for instant updates of me out on the race course where you will receive start time, splits and finish time sent directly to your phone, email or Facebook.