Stunted Adults

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I Ran A Marathon, And I Liked It

After five months of training, a namaste-killing explosion, and a runaway gallbladder, the time had finally come.

It was marathon day.

I woke up at the inhumane hour of 4:15 am, laced up my running shoes, and headed out the door without truly comprehending what was happening.

About an hour later, I was standing with my friends at the start line when my stomach dropped to my feet.  The caffeine  finally kicked in, I woke up, and I realized that we were about to run a marathon.

WHAT?!

I immediately recognized that this was a bad decision.  I was filled with terror.

But, I was trapped in a crowd with no clear way to flee.  And, you all know that there is nothing that I find more attractive than a bad decision.

So, this was totally happening.

The starting gun went off.

We were on the move in the midst of a pulsing crowd.

And, just like that, my terror was replaced with unbridled excitement.  I was running a marathon!! I WAS RUNNING A MARATHON!  I WAS REALLY DOING IT!

MARATHON!! YAY!!!

After a few minutes of that nonsense, I remembered that I had a long morning ahead of me and tamed my over-achieving adrenaline.  I took a couple of deep breaths, locked in my pace, and put my faith in my training.

It was all good.

But then at mile four it wasn’t all good.  The course was still very congested with 25,000 runners, I had zoned out, and I had lost my friends in the crowd.  I was alone!  Adrift in the sea of sweaty masses!   Never to be found again!

And I didn’t even have a volleyball to keep me company.

Things were not going according to plan.

But, my surprise solo time turned out to be just what I needed.  I reflected on how much I had changed for the better since I started training in September, I reveled in how proud of myself I was for not giving up on this insane idea to run a marathon, and I rocked out to my music.  With each passing mile, I felt stronger and more relaxed.

Watch out world — I am carefree and running a marathon!

It was magical.

But then at mile 10 everything fell apart.  I was bored and hungry.  My shoulders hunched as I despaired over the fact that I wasn’t even half way done.  The sun had risen and was beating down upon me with a tropical fury that had no place in the era of the Polar Vortex.

It was decidedly not magical.

Screw Gatorade and water, where is the pastry aid station?

My mind was invaded by all of the advice that the assorted marathon vets in my life had dropped on me.  Snippets of articles that I had read about proper pace, hydration, and nutrition bombarded my brain.  Was I doing it right?  Was I following the rules?  What if I was making mistakes?

But then I realized something.

Marathons are a lot like life.

The only way to get through them is to take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and just keep on keepin’ on the best way that you know how.

True that, Matthew, true that.

So, I did just that.

I relaxed.  I banished all pastry-related thoughts from my mind.  And, I went back to running how I damn well felt like running.  And, as usually happens, after I shut down the pity party and quieted my thoughts about what I “should” be doing, things got better.  By mile 12, I felt my inner-Phoebe creeping back in.

I easily cruised to the halfway point, which was where a few awesome friends were waiting to cheer me on and where Country Boy was waiting to join me for the back half of the race.

Country Boy was more than a smidge skeptical of my plan to run a marathon less than a month after I lost an organ via abdominal surgery, so he told me that, since he was pre-med for one entire year in college, he was basically a doctor and was going to run with me to keep an eye on all things medical.

Country Boy also, and I suspect primarily, ran with me because he is amazing and knows how to be supportive of his I-can-do-it-all-on-my-own wife in just the right way.

With Country Boy by my side, the miles ticked away.

We laughed, we talked about utter nonsense, we moved together in comfortable silence, and he knew exactly how to motivate me:

Hang on Leo! I’m coming!

A few miles later, my friends showed up, and they showed up hard.

As the crowd thinned out, I finally spotted my friends who I had started the marathon with and was able to catch up to them.  Together, we totally had this thing.

A marathon? Bitch, please, I’ve got this on lock.

At mile 16, two of my college friends were waiting for me with a sign to remind me that, at the end of the marathon, there would be all of the beer.  Just for me.  All of the beer!

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Much as when we were in college, that is all the motivation that I need to do anything.

A few miles later, boredom and exhaustion were poised to make another assault on me.

But then, in the distance, I spied a very large panda clinging to a tree.  We’re talking 6’4″ large.  Next to Andre the Giant Panda was a giraffe and a banana.  They were also human-sized.

I assumed I was just experiencing some light hallucination.  That seemed like something that could happen.

But then my eyes popped open.  Those were people in costumes!  And you know what kind of people would do that?

People who I would be friends with.

I picked up the pace and, sure enough, that was my panda, my giraffe, and my banana!  Alongside a whole crew of other smiling familiar faces.  I couldn’t believe it!  I mean, I could because this is totally normal behavior for the type of people with whom I associate, but I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening so early in the morning!  And for me!

The Beatles were right, I do get by with a little help from my friends.

Who knew it was possible to laugh hysterically during miles 18 through 20 of a marathon?

By the time I got my case of the giggles under control, I realized that I had crossed the 20 mile mark.  I had never run further than 19 miles before in my entire life.

Every step I took was a new record!

It was incredible.

And then it started to rain.  And not in an “oh, isn’t this refreshing” kind of way.  Oh no.  It was raining in a soaking, horizontal, sunscreen running in your eyes kind of way.  I was soaking wet, cold, and blind.

Just when I was ready to call a rain delay, I heard some familiar voices.  My college friends were back!  They were standing under a tree in that crazy monsoon to cheer me on!  Again!

Upon hearing their voices, I wiped the sunscreen out of my eyes, regained the power of sight, and kicked it up a gear.  It was time to keep on livin.  If they could show up in the rain for me, then I sure as hell could show up at the finish line for them.

This rain ain’t no thing.

I was back on the upside of the roller coaster that was my marathon experience.

I had a huge smile on my face, I was chatting Country Boy’s ear off, and the miles were flying by once more.

Running

23 miles down, the sun was back, and I was straight chillin’

But, what goes up must come down, especially in marathons.

Around mile 24, I hit another wall and I hit it hard.  I knew, logically, that I only had 2.2 miles to go.  I was totally there.  I was going to cross the line in 20 minutes or less.  No big thing.

But it was totally a big thing.

I managed to make it past mile 25, but I felt defeated.  My running friends had slowed down to drink water, and I regretted not joining them.  Every step felt like it was sure to be my last.

But then, out of nowhere, two more of my friends popped out onto the course.  I was so excited to see them that I started jumping around in the middle of the street, much to the extreme displeasure of every other runner.

Not only did my friends surprise me with their appearance, but they also started running with me.  It was so unexpected, so kind, and so needed.  We smiled, we laughed, we took selfies.  The other runners continued to not be amused, but I was having a great time.

Yes, those are my friends photobombing your serious marathon experience. Sorry!

After we climbed the last bridge of the marathon, my friends and Country Boy peeled off the course.  It was time for me to finish what I started.

I turned the corner and, much to my surprise, there was the finish line.  It was right there.  RIGHT THERE.  A huge smile broke across my face, and I sprinted across it.

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F*ck yeah I just crushed a marathon!

The feeling when I crossed that line was incredible.  I didn’t feel tired (even though I was) and I didn’t feel destroyed (even though my muscles were).  Instead, I felt energized, I felt strong, I felt proud, and I felt incredibly loved by my friends, my family, and, most importantly, myself.

I was unshakably happy.

I dedicated five months of my life to running.  A lot.  Even when it was inconvenient.  Even when it was hard.  Even when everyone in my life hinted that I should give up.

But I didn’t give up.

Instead, I became mentally and physically stronger than I ever thought was possible.  Not only did I run a marathon, I did it while smiling, laughing, and having the time of my life.  To me, that, and not my finish time, was the true victory.

I found my happy place in the simplicity of just putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where it took me.

You should try it.

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Just Call Me Jay-Z

Two weeks ago, my gallbladder got its drama on, up and left me in a very public fashion, and became an Internet sensation.  Thanks to the antics of the organ posthumously known as Kallbladder Kardashian, I was left with three stab wounds in my abdomen, a digestive system held together by duct tape and magic, and a world of pain.

During those first few days, I felt as if my life as I knew it was over.

I was exhausted.  I had no motivation.  And, it seemed impossible that I would ever be able to replicate the greatness that was my pre-surgery exercise and wine fueled lifestyle.

It was time for me to retire from the game.  It was time for me move on to running a record label, buying a sports team, and spending my days with Beyoncé.

I get you H-to-the-izzO V-to-the-izzA.  I GET YOU.

I get you 2003 H-to-the-izzO V-to-the-izzA. I GET YOU.

I was totally on board with the Jay-Z post-Black Album retirement plan.

But, then I realized that I knew nothing about the music industry and I didn’t have enough money to buy an NBA team. And, Beyoncé didn’t return my phone calls.

I know that you don't like the telephone, but it's me Bey.  IT'S ME!

I know that you don’t like the telephone, but it’s me Bey. IT’S ME!

My surgeon, however, did return my calls.  And, late yesterday afternoon, I met with him to assess how I was healing after surgery.

After he gave me a quick once-over and asked a few questions, I got down to brass tacks.

I asked with trepidation, “So, can I go back to normal?”

He responded, “Well, that depends on what normal is.”

I took a deep breath, and just let all of my weird fly.  If I was going to be forced into retirement, I was at least going to go down in flames.

I explained “Normal for me would involve running a marathon in less than 3 weeks, consuming wine in bottle serving sizes, eating a shocking amount of dessert, and having impromptu dance parties.  Can I go back to doing all of those things, preferably tonight?”

The surgeon stared at me in contemplative shock for several moments.  He took an audible deep breath.  Then he said “I don’t know how you pulled this off, but you appear to already be completely healed.  So, yes, you can do all of those things.”

WHAT?!  He actually said yes?!  I didn’t have to retire?!

I was not prepared for that answer.

Not knowing how to quit when I’m ahead, I asked “Are you sure? I really don’t have to retire?”

The surgeon paused, shrugged, and then responded, “Listen, I gather that you are the kind of woman who just does whatever she wants.  If I tell you no, you will just look for loopholes and badger me into saying yes.  And it’s late and I’m tired.  And, after a few weeks, you’re in better shape than most people are months after this surgery. So, you know what?  You win.  Do whatever you want.  We both know that you will anyway.”

Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth twice, I said thank you, shook his hand, and got the hell out of his office before he changed his mind.

Like Stannis Baratheon, I will take my victories any way that I can get them.

Like Stannis Baratheon, I will take my victories any way that I can get them.

And then things took a turn for the amazing.

When I got home, I immediately threw on my running shoes, cranked up my favorite work-out playlist, and took off on a five-mile run at my pre-surgery training pace.  Why do things in moderation when you can be excessive?

Hello old friends.

Hello old friends.

Despite initially appearing to be a smidge over-ambitious, last night’s run was one of the best runs that I’ve had in a long time.  I literally felt like I was flying.  I was back and ready to make the marathon my bitch.

Apparently, it’s easier to run with stab wounds than with a failing organ.  Good to know.

I returned home from my run to an invitation from my neighbor to come over for dinner since he had made too much food for himself.  Given me new-found freedom from my post-surgery diet of water, jello, and plain bagels, I grabbed Country Boy and a bottle of wine and sprinted across the street.  Within a few hours, I had defeated a giant plate of BBQ, the bottle of wine, and at least half a package of soft batch chocolate chip cookies.  You know, just a light mid-week evening meal.

Hello other old friend.

Hello other old friend.

After that festival of gluttony, I felt absolutely fine.  Actually better than fine, because, well, wine and cookies.

Country Boy and I eventually made the long walk back across the street to our house.  I had planned to get going while the going was good and go straight to bed.

But then I heard the sweet, sweet sounds of a young Michael Jackson coming from the stereo that I had accidentally left on when we went to dinner.

And then I realized that he was singing my jam:

So, obviously I had to dance.  And I danced hard.  I spun.  I got low.  I slid across the floor.  I might have even twerked a bit.

When the song finished, I took stock of myself.

I was a bit sweaty, but, otherwise, I felt fan-f*cking-tastic.

I had run, I had pounded wine, I had nearly overdosed on cookies, and I had danced like a boss.

My retirement was officially over.

Just call me Jay-Z, because I’m back in the game and better than ever.

31-Roc-Boyz


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Miley Cyrus Crushed My Yoga Dreams

In what may come as a total and complete surprise, television and Country Boy are not the only loves in my life.

I’m also having a torrid love affair with both running and yoga.

I know.  I KNOW.  I am one of THOSE people who rearranges her entire schedule to fit in a workout and who actually looks forward to it.

My idea of a good time.

My idea of a good time.

Please don’t hate me.  I still eat cake.  Lots and lots of cake.

And by cake, I mean cake with wine.  Obviously.

And by cake, I mean cake with wine. Obviously.

About two months ago, I started training for a marathon.  I’ve never run that far before since I’m more of a 5K hit-em-and-quit-em kind of girl, but I decided it was about time I gave a long-term relationship a shot.

Up until a week ago, my training had been going really well.  I had worked up to running over 30 miles per week, I was still excited to go out and run almost every night, and I was remarkably injury free.

But, last Monday, I found myself with a gnarly blood blister on the bottom of my right big toe.  It was so mortifying and disgusting that I started referring to it as Miley Cyrus.

I woke up to find something of this caliber on my foot.

I woke up to find something of this caliber on my foot.

The next day, Miley and I decided to go to a yoga class.

I realize that is an obviously bad decision.  I knew that I should rest my blister so that it would heal quickly.  But, I’ve never been one to make good decisions, and I really needed to feed my yoga addiction.  So, off Miley and I went to the gym — a place where bad things often happen to me involving live television — with me swearing that I was going to take it easy and just focus on getting a good stretch.

By the time I walked into the studio, the room was bursting full of yogis and the only open spot was, of course, front and center.  I sighed, reminded myself to take it easy even though everyone would be looking at me, and took the dreaded center spot

hollywood-squares-200x225

At least being center square would bring me one step closer to Whoopi Goldberg. Pretty soon we’ll be living the dream singing Sister Act duets together.

For the first half of class, I stayed on message.  I modified whenever necessary so that I wouldn’t put too much weight on my toe, I kept my eyes on my own mat, and I almost forgot that I had a lot of people behind me while I was wearing very tight pants.

But then Jay-Z came on over the stereo.  My breath locked in with Hov and we were grooving together.

I couldn’t suppress my inner Beyonce any longer.

The teacher called out crow pose and, with Jay on my side, I popped right up into the arm balance.  I was feeling awesome!  I was flying!  And I was doing it in front of all the other yogis!

I was Sasha Fiercing the hell out of that yoga class.

The next directive was to move into a chatarunga, which is a low tricep push-up.

Instead of carefully coming out of the arm balance and stepping back to a push-up to keep my toe safe, I decided to jump back because that’s what Beyonce would do.

crow

The move goes a little like this, although when I do it it’s high on speed and low on grace.

I did it!  I flew through the air!  I didn’t smash my face of the floor!  Maybe the class would give me a slow clap?  For sure someone would come up to me afterwards and give me a knowing namaste.  I’ve always wanted to be in the inner knowing namaste circle!

But that giant smile on my face disappeared the instant my right foot hit the ground.

There was a large pop.  I felt a searing pain as the right side of my body collapsed onto my mat.  And then I heard a gasp next to me.

Oh Miley, what have you done now?  WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

Miley had exploded upon impact, and she went EVERYWHERE.

There was blood on my mat, on the studio floor, and on my neighbor’s mat.  All that was missing was some bright yellow police tape and David Caruso.

I tried to play it cool and just casually slide my towel around on the floor to wipe up the blood spatter, but I wasn’t fooling anyone.  There was nothing cool and casual about what I was doing, and, because it was a veritable crime scene, EVERYONE was transfixed and could not look away.

After what felt like an eternity, the class finally ended.  At that moment, everyone in the room fled from me like the pariah that I am.  No one made eye contact and no one said a word.  The way these yogis were acting, you would have thought that I had just twerked all over their stash of kale and quinoa.

So much for my dreams of a knowing namaste.

Thanks, Miley.  You really know how to win friends and impress people.


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My Neighborhood’s Most Wanted

I am on the run from the law.

Literally.

There is a 9-hole public golf course a few blocks from my house.  I, as well as a whole mess of other runners and cyclists, use the street that loops around the circumference of that golf course as my own personal track.

Over the past 4 years, I have run that loop at least 1,000 times.  I like to believe that it belongs to me and that I always have the right of way.

Unfortunately, I am not the only person who believes that, and, as a result of those conflicting viewpoints, I have an arch nemesis.

He is a cyclist who looks like an aged Eddie Munster.

Seriously.  Age him about 40 years, put him in an unnecessarily tight spandex outfit, and you've got my enemy.

Add 40 years and 40 lbs and you’ve got my enemy.

This dude is the worst.  He insists on wearing head to toe neon spandex even though he looks like a portly werewolf.  He insists on riding his bike directly at me when I am running on the edge of the road’s shoulder even though there are no cars on the road.  And, he insists on yelling at me to get out of his way even though there is clearly plenty of room for both of us.

I insist on refusing to yield when he rides at me.  I insist on channeling my inner soccer hooligan and throwing elbows towards his bike while I run to keep him out of my lane.  And, I insist on yelling at him to get off of my road if he cannot learn how to share.

We do this special little tango at least once a week.  I detest him, and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual.

The other night, I was out for a run on the golf course loop.

My legs were feeling strong as I began my final mile.  This song started blaring through my headphones:

I was totally amped up.

I was so totally amped up that it never even crossed my mind that the universe might be trying to send me a message about my future through the shuffle feature on my iPod.

I will never again forget the obvious fact that Jon Bon Jovi is a prophet sent from above to guide me.

With hair like that, of course he's a messenger from a higher power.

With hair like that, of course he’s a messenger from a higher power.

Just as JBJ started wailing away on the chorus, I felt someone come up right behind me.

I could hear the wind in the spokes of a bicycle.  Someone was riding against traffic, which is totally illegal, and he was getting all up in my business even though the entire road was empty.

I had a feeling that I knew who it was.

Then I heard someone shout, between gasps for air, “Get out of my way!”

EDDIE MUNSTER!

I was not going to back down to that dude.  No way.  No how.  It was MY road tonight.

I channeled all of my inner sass and yelled, “HELL NO!  I can run wherever the fuck I want to, so FUCK OFF.”

Then Eddie Munster whipped past me, turned his bike sideways, and came to a screeching halt in front of me.

It wasn’t Eddie Munster.

It was a bicycle cop.

Sadly, it was not Channing Tatum.

Sadly, it was not Channing Tatum.

Shit.  Shit.  SHIT.

Mr. Bicycle Officer caught his breath and then barked at me: “What did you say?”

I suddenly felt a lot less sassy.

I began aimlessly rambling on and on about how I hadn’t said anything, it was dark, I was just trying to protect myself from potential murderers, and I definitely, definitely did not tell anyone to fuck off.  That definitely was not what just happened.  I was talking about ducks, because there are ducks everywhere and they really are a nuisance.

Finally, Mr. Bicycle Officer put me out of my misery and said: “Can I see your identification?”

I looked at him like he was insane.

He blankly stared at me.

In order to bring that painful staring contest to a close, I was forced to openly acknowledge that, due to it being an insanely hot and humid night, I was wearing a very embarrassing outfit of just a sports bra, tiny running shorts, and running shoes.  I explained the obvious, stating: “I don’t have any identification.  I literally have nothing on me other than what you see and, really, you can see everything right now.”

He sighed.  He fiddled with his walkie-talkie.  He looked as if he was thinking very hard.

I thought we might both be able to put this very mortifying moment behind us and quietly go our separate ways.

But no.

Mr. Bicycle Officer was not going stand for any disrespect.

Cartman

He took a deep breath, puffed up his chest, and yelled: “How am I supposed to write you a ticket if you don’t have identification?  You are ALWAYS supposed to have identification!  I’m not going to bring you down to the station THIS TIME for your offense, but I’m going to keep my eye on you.  I know what you look like, and I will arrest you.  When an officer orders you to yield to his vehicle, you need to heed his directive immediately.  IMMEDIATELY!”

Yield to his vehicle?!  Apparently, an out-of-breath shout to get off of the road is the bicycle cop equivalent of a siren and flashing lights.

Before I could muster a respectful response to all of that, Mr. Bicycle Officer flipped up his kickstand and pedaled away.  He must have had some very important bicycle patrol business that required his immediate attention.

He’s got his eye on me.

He knows what I look like.

And, he will arrest me.

I’m wanted, WANNNNNTED, dead or alive (for disorderly exercising).