Tag Archives: friends

‘How Can I Help?’

You learn a lot about how to support someone when you’re on the receiving end of it. There have been things people have said that really stung — and then I realized I’ve probably said them myself at some point. They meant well, I’m sure of it. I mean, if I ever said those things, I know I meant well. But, wow, when you’re going through rough waters, it becomes crystal clear how wrong — or right — certain words and actions are.

I’ve  gotten asked — many times, actually — by people who have a friend with a baby or child in the hospital about what they can do to support their friend. Now, my story is not everyone’s story. And just because I feel a certain way doesn’t mean every parent in my shoes feels that way. But, if you were to ask me, here’s what I would suggest:

  • Show up. Sit in the waiting room with a book or your work or some knitting. Even if your friend can’t come out and see you — she knows you’re there. You don’t have to sit in silent vigil. But, let her know you’ll be there from 1 to 3 one afternoon. Having a kid in the hospital is tough — you never know when they’re going to start crashing or when it’s going to be smooth sailing. So many times, just knowing that I could sneak out to the waiting room for  quick hug from my friend was enough to get me through. Even if I couldn’t sit and visit.
  • Create a hospital care pack. Include quarters (for vending machines), healthful snacks (because vending machines snacks get old — literally and figuratively — maybe try trail mixes, bottles of water, mints), crossword puzzle books, decks of cards, toiletries (the hospital-supplied ones are not exactly high-quality), etc. Make sure to put a hand-written note in there. Or, better yet, maybe several hand-written notes that say on the outside “Open when you need a hug.” Or, “Open when you’d like to smile.”
  • Make her dinner. Tell her you’re going to bring it on whatever day at whatever time. Don’t expect your friend to sit and eat with you, but know that she will appreciate the friendly face, quick hug and fresh homemade dinner.
  • Call and text and email her. We heard a lot of “we didn’t want to bother you.” But, here’s the thing, if your friend is busy or in a meeting with a doctor or holding her baby, she won’t answer her phone or email. But, she’ll know you cared. And she’ll know you’re thinking of her and her family. And, when she has a few minutes, she’ll answer you back. It just might take some time.
  • Stop by her house and do some stuff: check her mail, do her laundry, pet her cats, wash her sheets. What I wouldn’t have given to slide into fresh, clean sheets on the few nights we went home after the hospital. But the last thing we had time — or energy — to do was wash our sheets. Thankfully, though, the hospital had a small laundry room for us to use or else we may have gone for quite some time without clean britches, too.
  • Don’t stop living your life. Just because our life stopped while we sat by Penelope Joy’s side doesn’t mean our friends’ did. They still had work and kids and life they were living. Don’t be scared to talk about your life. And, for crying out loud, don’t be afraid to be happy. Sometimes talking about what’s going on outside the hospital is a welcome reprieve from the constant talk of blood test results, EEGs, pulse ox levels and end-of-life decisions. Talking about normal, happy things is OK. If we weren’t in the mood, we wouldn’t have had you visit.
  • And, finally, be patient. Some days, it’s hard enough to remember to brush your teeth when you have a child in the hospital. The experience is exhausting — mentally, physically, emotionally. So remembering to call someone back or trying to be a gracious host when someone visits can be a lot of work. Have patience — and compassion — for your friend. She is experiencing something no one should ever have to experience. And she deserves a break.

In the end, know that there is nothing you can do to take away your friend’s pain. Or fear. Or sadness. But, by putting yourself out there and showing her you’re there for her, it will bring in moments of light.

I’m going to go one step further, here, and provide some advice that you didn’t ask for. Mr. B and I have gone through something life altering — and life shattering. And we’ve had some of the most amazing support, encouragement and love we have ever experienced in our lives. No, I mean, seriously amazing. And I thank God for our support system every single day. But, we’ve also had some well-meaning people try to find just the right words to say, even though there are no right words. And some words that sound good coming out actually cause the recipient more pain and sadness than they’re already experiencing.

  • It was God’s will.” I could go on and on about this one. And, I kinda already did. But, let me just say this: I can’t believe in a God who would give us this chapter of our story simply because he (or she) could. And I certainly can’t think that Mr. B and I deserved to lose our daughter or that our sweet, innocent Penelope Joy deserved to die. Bad things happen — too often to even count — simply because they do. God isn’t there to hand them out. He/she is there to get us through them. Instead of “it was God’s will,” try “oh, wow, I am so sorry. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.” Or, “is it OK if I add your family to my prayer chain?”
  • “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” God thinks a heck of a lot more of me than I do of myself — probably true on many occasions. But, again, the thought that God purposefully did this is pretty disheartening. And not something to tell someone who is in a situation that would  make even the most faithful question their faith.
  • “Let me know if I can do anything.” Oh, gosh. We heard this so many times. And most of the time, my response was no response. On any given day, we didn’t know what we needed — except our baby, happy and healthy in my arms at home. And not even some of the most talented doctors and nurses I’ve ever met could do that. Putting the ball in our court was a game-ender. There were people, however, who just … did. They said they’d show up with dinner, and they showed up with dinner — no expectations for us to eat it with them. Just a hot, homemade meal and a hug. And then there were the people who showed up and cleaned our old apartment because we were making funeral arrangements and, well, mourning. Instead of telling your friend to let you know what she needs, see if there’s anything you can anticipate — and provide it for her. No strings, no expectations, no added stress.
  • “It wasn’t meant to be.” I’m hoping I don’t even need to tell you why this is an inappropriate response to someone who just lost a child.
  • “I know just how you feel.” People have told us this countless times — I still hear it to this day. I actually had someone tell me that their dog of 10 years recently died, so she knew “just how I felt.” And a mom whose baby had a cold “totally understands” because she, too, was watching her child suffer. Please. Just stop with the comparisons. Even Mr. B doesn’t know exactly how I feel — and I don’ t know exactly how he feels. And we lived the exact same story. Every person is different. So, no, I’m sorry, you don’t know exactly how I feel. I know you mean well — I really, really do — but comparing my situation to yours is hurtful — especially if you’re talking about your dog. (Don’t get me wrong, I love our dog — but she is no replacement for Penelope Joy.)
  • Or, maybe you don’t call or don’t write or … quite frankly … fall off the face of the earth. Because you’re uncomfortable and don’t know what to say. Remember, though, there are no right words to say. Those friends who stuck by me? The ones who called and just sat there in silence because there were no words? Or the ones who sat with me and cried? The ones who said, “Sh*t. That sucks.”? The ones who showed up with a bottle of wine and Kleenex? Those are the ones who nailed it who got it. Because they’re the ones who were there for me through the worst possible experience of my life. Even though it sucked and was ugly and made them, God forbid, uncomfortable.
  • Last, but certainly not least: “Are you going to try again?” As if Penelope Joy was just our first stab at something. As if practice makes perfect. As if she didn’t matter and we can just move on to the next kid. What I think you mean to ask is: “Are you going to have more children?” Because Penelope Joy mattered. And she will always be our oldest child. And any future kids (if we have any future kids) will know her story — they will know she existed and that she mattered and that she was a light in our lives.

In closing, the very best thing you can do for your friend — no matter what she’s going through — is love. Love hard. And love her through it. No matter what “it” is. Be there — physically and emotionally — even when, no, especially when things get ugly and uncomfortable.

Please, please don’t take this post the wrong way. Mr. B and I are eternally grateful for all of the love and support we received — and continue to receive. And, I will always take someone saying the “wrong thing” over someone who disappears. I only share this post (written from an honest, caring spot in my heart) as a look into things from the other side. The side where moms and dads leave the hospital with a small biohazard baggie of their baby’s curls instead of their actual baby. Thankfully, not everyone has been on this side of the story — and I hope none of you ever are on this side of the story.

Hopefully, some of this may be helpful if you ever are in this situation, looking for how you best can love your friend through some pretty rough waters. Remember: the words and actions we use matter. And so do the ones we don’t.

P.S. If you’ve made it this far, let me apologize for the length of this post. Another reason I’m not a very successful blogger is that I can’t/won’t/don’t limit my posts to “a readable 200 to 300 words.” I’ve got stuff I wanna say — and a lot of words in the dictionary at my disposal. What’s a girl to do?

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Stuff and Things

A roundup of randamity. Also known as the randomness of what’s been going on in my life and what’s been floating around in my head:

  • I ran a hole in my favorite pair of running shoes. Sadly, my go-to running store didn’t have any in my size (not my favorite shoe, not any shoe). After way too many emotions about a pair of shoes, I tracked down one pair in the city. Unfortunately, the colors are … well … they speak for themselves:
New shoes

Love the shoes. Don’t love the colors.

  • My favorite springtime running jacket — from my first half marathon (in 2011) — no longer fits comfortably over a growing Baby B belly and, mostly, growing Baby B boobs. I zipped it up Saturday and could barely breathe; there was NO WAY I was going to be able to run in it:
Running jacket not fitting

I am the most sad about this jacket (temporarily) not fitting me. (Apparently the mirror needs cleaning — please ignore.)

  • This weekend, I was due for nine miles as part of my Gazelle Girl Half Marathon training. I was really hoping to get in 10 miles, though — knowing that I could get in 10 at least a couple of times between now and April 13 would leave me feeling more comfortable about the race run. Well, Mr. B wanted to go for a run Saturday morning. Always happy to oblige, I said “of course!” And we went out for two miles together. After he left for work, I laced up the new shoes and headed out for my planned training run. I got in my 10 miles. But, it wasn’t pretty. The first eight miles were good. I felt good — mentally and physically. But at about 8.5, everything started hurting. And my IT band gave me the first fit it’s ever given me since I started running. It was horrible pain. But I limped/ran/jogged/walked through my last 1.5 miles to make it to 10. Only when I was driving home did it hit me that I’d actually run 12 miles Saturday. No wonder it was so hard on my legs: it’s been a long, long time since I’ve run that much in one day. I’m proud of my 10 miles. Slow and painful as it was (for me), I’m proud of that run. Because I finished it. For me and the little one:
on my run

A smile at mile 7. Before everything started screaming.

  • I am blessed with the most wonderful husband. He’s kind, compassionate, generous and loving. And he puts up with a lot of emotions from me (which have only been made more “interesting” lately). But, best of all? He gives the best IT band massage in all the land. It hurts oh-so bad. He doesn’t even get mad at me when I  accidentally smack at him when it hurts too much. He’s so much better than my foam roller.
  • This weekend Mr. B and I head north to spend Easter with my family. I’m so very much looking forward to it. I’ve been feeling homesick lately — a feeling I’m thinking is only going to get worse as the pregnancy continues. (It’s SO WEIRD going through all of this without my mom by my side.) There will be lots of family time and lots of yummy food. And Son-Rise Service at my mom’s church. I’m not an overly churchy person, but there is just something about Easter that I’ve always enjoyed. My favorite songs are Easter songs. Especially these ones:
  • Since I’ve told people that Mr. B and I are expecting a darling Baby B, I’ve had a lot of interesting reactions. While the reactions have been mostly happy and excited, I’ve heard my fair share of “Wow! You work fast!” — as if our family planning decisions are anyone’s business but our own. It’s quite bothersome that anyone would want to steal one tiny ounce of the joy and over-the-moon excitement that Mr. B and I are feeling. Letting it roll off my skin feels so good. Because we couldn’t love this baby more. And, like our entire love story, Baby B is happening at exactly the right time — for us.
  • I’ve also had several people wonder about how I feel about pregnancy weight gain. “After all that hard work you put in to lose weight, you’re just going to gain it all back.” That’s the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard because:
    • Part of the reason I wanted to lose weight and get healthy was so that I’d be able to have a baby (or babies) some day. Because I wanted a healthy pregnancy and to give my child the best possible start he/she could have.
    • I lost 100 pounds. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to gain back 100 pounds during this pregnancy.
    • Getting my life in order, taking care of myself, eating right and losing weight has given me all of the tools I need to take care of myself before, during AND after this pregnancy. For me and my family.
    • Whatever weight I’ll gain because of this baby is weight I’m happy to carry. Because I’m growing an actual human being. And I am proud of what my body is doing for this baby.
    • My weight gain (or lack thereof) during this pregnancy is no one’s business by mine, my husband’s and my doctor’s. Trust me, I’m all over it. I do enough worrying for all of us.
  • My tiredness is starting to fade. Instead of “needing” a nap every day when I get home from work, I’m operating on just two or three naps a week. Sadly, the bazillion trips to the bathroom a day are not waning. I drink a lot of water, so I’ve always been a frequent flier to the bathroom. But this? It’s ridiculous.
  • I am already so very much in love with this baby.
  • Some days, at the end of the day, when all is quiet and life is calm, I find myself just sitting on the couch thinking about my life. Full of disbelief that this really is my life. Married to my best friend — and the best person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know (not to mention lucky enough to get to spend my life with). Expecting our first child. Working in a job I love that teaches me something new every day. Surrounded by family who are friends and friends who are family — people who want the best for me, who bring out the best in me. Even on the worst of days, my life is blessed so big. And I am so humbly and unbelievably grateful.

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Our First Married Christmas

‘Twas Christmastime at Casa B;
The family gathered ’round the tree.

B Family Photo

We opened gifts — we each had a few:
A book, a cue ball — a bracelet, too.

My RoadID

A new RoadID — complete with new name and new emergency contact number!

In lieu of going overboard with gifts under our tree,
We bought gifts for those who might not have any.

Angel Tree Cards

Admittedly, I probably had more fun shopping for an infant boy than for my grown-up husband.

Then we made a breakfast treat,
And headed back to bed to eat.

Breakfast in bed

Blueberry pancakes (and one with gummy bears, too), bacon and tea.

After that we held hands and strolled,
Down the street, into the cold.

Mr. B all bundled up

Bundled up — aka “Representing the Lions”

The phone rang, and what should we hear
But the voice of my sweet mother dear,
“We’re on our way, we’re coming down.
Make a smile from your homesick frown.”

Mr. B then left for work.
I cried and cried like a mopey jerk.
But not to worry, a knock soon came,
And Mom and Dad came in the frame.

Mom and Dad's visit

Two of my most favorite people.

Christmas went from sad to happy,
Leaving this Mrs. B so sappy.
My parents only stayed a bit,
Just long enough to talk and sit.

They had to go and visit others.
(I have a lot of sisters and brothers.)
After they left, I headed out;
When I get to run, it’s hard to pout.

Ready to Run

Christmas runs deserve a skirt.

Six miles ahead, in the cold winter night,
Just me, myself and winter’s bite.

Snowy run

I found snow on my run!

Though it got a little dark for me,
And mile six turned quite speedy.

After my run, I walked around
To see the lights of this cute town.
They wrapped around my favorite dam.
So glad I had my telephone cam!

Christmas lights

At home I took a nice, hot shower
And realized ’twas the dinner hour.
I poured a bowl of cold cereal
And enjoyed my quiet Christmas meal.

After dinner, I had a nice chat
With my favorite Rosebud (fancy that!)

Christmas trees

Even our Christmas trees had some FaceTime!

We talked and laughed and had some fun.
Then, sadly, good-bye had come.

I still needed to call the rest of the crew.
And tell them all “I love you.”
At Christmastime and all the year,
Family is what I hold most dear.

I said my hellos and then my good-byes,
A little misty, around the eyes.
Then the time finally came to await Mr. B.
Work was ending; he was coming home to me.

Waiting for Mr. B

We were all eagerly awaiting Mr. B’s arrival home.

So Christmas had come, and quickly it went.
Our first married Christmas we had so spent.
Mr. B working; I doing “stuff.”
Being apart, yeah it was tough.

Lucky for us, we’ll have many more;
The future has lots of Christmases in store.
This year it never really felt right,
But I still got to hug Mr. B tight.

And that, in itself, is a gift I adore.
His love, his sweet hugs, you can’t buy at a store.
I counted my blessings, then counted them twice;
My life is so full of gifts oh-so nice.

Yeah, Christmas this year wasn’t quite like I’d planned,
But I’m still the most blessed girl in this land.
I have love, I have light, I have the very best life.
I’ve got family and friends — and I’m Mr. B’s wife.

Mrs. and Mr. B under the tree

The best gift of all — my Mr. B

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Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I have been so very busy with being in love and planning a wedding that I nearly let one of my most important anniversaries pass me by. Today was the anniversary of the day I made the decision to take my life back from the obesity that was slowly taking it away from me. Three years. Wow. Time surely does fly.

I suppose it’s a good thing that my life is so full of blessings right now that I’m no longer spending so much of my time looking at the past and am instead living in the present while joyfully looking toward the future. But, truth be told, my past is part of me — it is who I am and who I will become. And there was a lot of fantastic that happened in my past. Fantastic that I wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world. There is no “before” and “after.” Because I am the same person living the same life — I’m just in a different place on my life’s journey.

But, I would be lying if I said losing weight and getting healthy didn’t have a HUGE effect on my happiness today. Because it did. It ohsoverymuch did. In fact, that portion of my journey feels like a lifetime away.

Before I continue with what I want to say about how losing weight and regaining my health has changed my life, I want to make one thing clear: I do not look at old pictures of myself and see someone ugly. I do not think that because I weighed nearly 300 pounds that I was less than beautiful.

Me in 2008

I remember feeling really pretty that day in that green shirt and my sister’s cute brown hat.

I think there’s a misconception that because I show “before” and “during” photos that I’m saying I was a less successful, intelligent, beautiful person than I am now. Because I’m not. The physical changes I’ve undergone are simply visual representations of the major changes I’ve undergone in the past three years since taking my life back. Changes that have happened with my mind, my body and my spirit.

Let me be clear: I believe the human body — in all of its forms, male, female, large, small — is extremely beautiful and, quite honestly, amazing.

But let’s not lie to each other, either. I was not healthy. I was on the verge of being put on high cholesterol and diabetes medication. I had my gall bladder removed at the ripe old age of 21. After viewing an ultrasound, my doctor told me that my liver was full of fatty deposits that were becoming difficult. I had stopped having regular periods and was told I would probably have a difficult time conceiving.

I may have been beautiful, but I was not healthy.

Thankfully, with my change of diet and addition of exercise, I’ve reversed all of these things. Well, all of them except the gall bladder removal. Because, well, clearly, once it’s gone, it ain’t comin’ back.

But, more than that, the past three years have shown me that I can do the things I once thought were too hard for me. I have shown myself that I am incredibly strong. And that, indeed, I have the power to change my situation.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” ~Christopher Robin

So how has this journey changed my life? In so many ways. And it goes far beyond the list of improvements made to my health — my life expectancy.

  • Mr. B  and me? We probably never would have happened. Not only would I not have had the courage and confidence to send that silly little message to him on the online dating site, but Mr. B wouldn’t have looked twice at me. And it’s not because he’s shallow — because he’s not. He is a kind, loving and wonderful man who loves without judgment. He wouldn’t have looked twice because I wasn’t the person he was looking for — I didn’t have a sense of self or a lifestyle that fit with what he was looking for. Back then, we wouldn’t have been a match. This is another reason I don’t regret my past. Because my past gave me the lessons I needed to be ready for the gift of Mr. B’s love.
  • Running … dear, sweet running. That most certainly wouldn’t be part of my life. Not only was I uninterested in pushing myself in that way, but it wouldn’t have been safe for me to run — pounding nearly 300 pounds of person on joints is not really a good idea. Running has given me so much. It’s my therapy. It’s my reward. It’s my happiness. It’s my challenge.
  • That marathon? One of the proudest moments of my life? Would have been impossible for me. Yes, I said impossible. And I mean it. I can’t imagine missing that experience. It changed me. Forever. And, no matter what, I will always have that.
  • Friendship. Through this blog — and the one I started at the very beginning — I have been given the gift of friendship. From all over the world. These men and woman are the most of inspiring, hard-working, encouraging people I have ever known in my life. Some I’ve met, some I haven’t. Either way, they are my friends. And I can’t imagine my life without them.
  • Faith in — and love for — myself. I have always been proud of myself and my accomplishments. But watching myself grow and change — over hills and in valleys — over these past three years? I am so much more than I ever gave myself credit for. And I continue to fall in love with who I am becoming every day. (Even though I still struggle sometimes.)

So, you see, it’s not just about how much my pictures have changed over the past three years. Those are just pictures. But they do represent something. They show what I see when I look in the mirror now: A happy, healthy woman who is getting stronger every day.

hiking

Enjoying hiking and climbing sand dunes with Mr. B.

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When a Trainer Becomes a Friend

Sometimes I head to the gym on Monday nights and have a really tough, sweaty workout with Trainer 2.5. Sometimes I head to the gym on Monday nights and have what have come to be known as counseling sessions — just as much mental work as they are physical.

No matter what, it’s always exactly what I need.

Trainer 2.5 and I have been working out together for a long time. When he sees me walk in the gym, he can read me better than I can sometimes read myself. And he knows exactly what I need. He knows when I need to be pushed and when I need to take it easy. He’s seen me at some of my lowest, darkest points — and helped me work through them in a physical way. He’s also seen me at my strongest points. He’s seen me on love’s roller coaster — the valleys and the tippy top of the hills. And he was happier when I found my true love than many of my closest friends.

Honestly, some days T2.5 is even kinder to me than I am to myself. (He and Mr. B would make a very good team if they ever decided to team up against me for my own good.) Frankly, T2.5 is as much a counselor as a trainer. He’s a supporter, encourager, challenger, pusher. He’s a friend.

me and Trainer 2.5

Trainer 2.5 has seen me through a lot of things — emotionally and mentally as well as physically.

While no longer my official “trainer,” T2.5 is a friend I work out with once a week. A fantastic friend. He teaches me things in the gym I don’t know how to do. And he helps me push past my own mental and physical barriers.

Tonight I walked in the gym feeling defeated and exhausted. For many reasons I won’t go into tonight. He saw it right away. And he called me on it. We chatted for a bit, and then we got down to business.

I asked him to go easy on my legs because we may have our timed mile at bootcamp at 5:30 in the morning, and I’m going to need my legs. Needless to say, though, my arms and abs got quite the workout and are going to be quite sore in about 48 hours.

Other things to come out of this workout:

  • A terrible migraine, brought on somewhere in the middle of the bench presses
  • A middle-of-the-gym neck and temple massage from T2.5 in an effort to rid me of the migraine
  • An attempt by T2.5 to pop my shoulder back in after it started making a terrible cracking noise mid-overhead press
  • A serious heart-to-heart with T2.5 (he’s getting married in a month, so he understands some of the things I’m dealing with right now)
  • An assignment to get a deep-tissue massage. Soon.
  • A reading of my blog (at the gym) as a reminder of how far I’ve come, followed by a lecture about being nice to myself and not so hard on myself all the time
  • A reminder that I don’t have to can’t be perfect, so I need to stop trying
  • A realization that I am due for some major reflection. And yoga.

Mondays are always hard days for me. They’re the day I say good-bye to Mr. B for another full week. So, I’m often in dire need of a dose of reality and a hard workout to deal with my emotions — a much healthier way than I used to deal with them. So, Mondays and T2.5 are a pretty perfect fit. Much more than that, though, T2.5 has been such a blessing throughout the entire process of taking control of my life and taking care of myself. And I owe him much more than a blog post full of nice words.

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Race Recap: Kalamazoo Half Marathon

On Sunday, I ran my fourth half marathon.

What the … what? Kimi Joy has run FOUR half marathons?

I still don’t believe it.

But I know it’s true because I have the medal to prove it.

At the finish lane

Obligatory grip-n-grin with my race medal.

Leading up to the race, I was feeling … I don’t know … it’s hard to describe. I had the same race nerves that I always get — a mixture of nervous, excited and tired. But it was different than my other races. Maybe it’s because I’ve got my pre-race routine fairly well perfected.

ice cream and gummy bears

No race is complete without night-before ice cream and gummy bears (and, apparently, a cookie).

Smoochin'

A pre-race smooch also has become mandatory.

Maybe it was because I had a gaggle of friends out on the course with me — some running, some cheering.

The Kalamazoo Crew

The Kalamazoo Crew

Regardless, I was feeling pretty good about the race. As we all lined up for our respective races, I was reminded what an amazing thing it was we were about to do. Whether it was the 5k walk or a full marathon, every racer out there was doing something for their health. None of ushad to be out there. And that, my friends, is a very cool thing.

lining up for the race

I am moved to near tears every time a race crowd goes silent for the national anthem.

The full marathoners, my friend Becky among them, took off on their course as the half marathoners lined up. It’s such a neat experience to line up with people of all ages and abilities. Running is really a community sport, and it’s a blessing to be part of that community.

I had planned on lining up with the 2:30 pace group, the the pacers lined up way too close to the starting line, and I was never able to make my way through the crowd to run with them. So, I ended up pacing myself for the race. I do most of my training runs alone, anyway, so it’s not a big deal. Besides, it gave me a chance to run the race at my pace, chatting with other runners along the way.

pace tattoos

I had picked up some pace tattoos at the expo the night before. My “dream” pace on the left, my “reality” pace on the right.

The first few miles were great. I felt strong and solid — helped, I’m sure, by the downhill start. Having Kelly and Mr. B out on the course cheering for me and the rest of The Crew made turning every corner super fun, never knowing when they were going to pop up with their awesome signs and hugs.

Mr. B and Kelly with signs

Their signs got reactions from runners and other spectators alike.

By mile 5, I was ready for a potty break. And I took the nearest one I could find. There was a short line — only a couple people in front of me. Bad idea. I waited in line for nearly 5 minutes while the race clock ticked on.

As I finally got back on the course, tying my pants up as I ran, I realized I was out of water. I texted Mr. B to have my extra water bottle ready to go for me when I saw him next. I grabbed a Gu Brew at the next stop. I knew Powerade and Gatorade made my stomach hurt. But I needed something. Should have stuck to the water. For the rest of the race, I was extremely urpy. Not to be gross, but I was eating chia seeds for the rest of the run — chia seeds I had eaten hours earlier for breakfast.

Oatmeal pancakes

Oatmeal pancakes with Greek yogurt and chia seeds.

Running with a belly ache isn’t fun. But it’s survivable. And so I ran. Happy as ever to be out there. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect.

Mr. B (and Kelly) met me just before we headed up our first noticeable hill. Mr. B handed me my water and ran for a bit with me. I could barely keep my lips off his adorable running face. But, we had to part ways. There was a race to be run.

The next, oh, five miles or so went by super fast. I was having a great time urping myself through the course. Had plenty of water and only ate one Gu — was simply too afraid of the ramifications to put anything else in my belly, but I knew I needed something.

Then came mile 12. The hill. The dreaded hill. From far away, it looks so sweet and innocent. But by the time we were sliding ourselves up her curves, all of us realized what a feisty beast she was. I resorted to power walking the second half of the hill. My power walking, however, was faster than most of the people who insisted on running it, and I easily slid past them.

And by then, we were running down the homestretch. One last runners’ spit and I’d be headed in the finish for my photo. Note to my fellow runners: If you do not announce yourselves when you’re passing me and there’s a lot of commotion of a crowd, you may get spit on. Luckily, I saw her shadow move, and I avoided a very awkward situation.

As we turned and I saw the finish line, I took off toward the clock, which had just ticked north of 2:18. I heard my name being yelled. Or, at least I assume it was mine. It very well could have been “Petey” or “Katie” or “Jim.” Regardless, it was nice to hear something that sounded like “Kimi!!!!”

And then, like the flash that I was, my fourth half marathon was over.

Finished

A thumbs-up is always needed.

I met up with Mr. B, who met my very sweaty self with a hug and a smooch. And a backpack full of snacks. He even remembered to bring me some of my favorite cookies! We found Kelly and cheered on our friend Patti as she finished her first half marathon.

Patti and Eric

Patti and her fiance, Eric, both ran their first half marathon that day.

And then it was time for me to head back out on the course to meet up with Anna. Anna also was running her first half marathon that day, and I promised her I’d run the last leg of the race with her. Thankfully, I met her at the top of that hill instead of at the bottom.

Me and Anna

I am so incredibly proud of Anna for pushing through the last difficult miles and then tearing up the shoot at the finish line with one of the most impressive sprints I’ve ever seen.

The group hung out under a nice, shady tree — hot dogs and cookies in hand — as we waited for Becky to finish up her marathon. We all gathered at the finish line when we expected to see Becky come across. After a while, I decided to run back out and meet her to run in with her as well. And I ran for a while … to the bottom of that hill … and didn’t see her. So, I circled back out the course. I made it back out to mile marker 23 where I ran in to Marathon Don, who told me he had seen a group of ladies headed back toward the finish line. Crap. Somehow I had missed Becky.

So I sprinted back up the hill. Made it up the hill at a 7-minute pace. Wish I could have pulled that out during my race.

Mr. B texted. They had met Becky, and the rest of the group was running her in. He was on his way, barefoot, toting all of my stuff, out to find me. I stopped running. Tired. Defeated. Sad. Annoyed.

But then I saw Mr. B. Somehow he’s able to calm every nerve and put every negative thought to rest. And we walked hand-in-hand back to the finish area to meet up with the rest of the group.

The runners

All the pretty colors! All the pretty runners!

I come away from the Kalamazoo Half Marathon incredibly proud of all of us. It’s a great thing to run a race — whether it’s a 5k or an ultra marathon. And every single runner should be proud when they cross that finish line, regardless of time. To reach the finish line is an accomplishment. And never, ever let anyone tell you differently.

I also come away from the race knowing something else: I don’t think I have the desire to run another full marathon. I simply LOVE the half marathon. The training, the timing, the distance, the accomplishment. All are perfect for me and my lifestyle. Now, that’s not saying that somewhere down the line I won’t get marathon fever again. But for me, for my life, for now: I have found my distance. And I am proudly a half marathoner.

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An Ode to My Cheerleaders

A quick little poem to fill this space until I write a recap of the race.

Mr. B and Kelly

Mr. B and Miss K were, quite possibly, the best cheerleaders on the whole race course.

Sometimes I wonder if spectators know
How important it is, the love that they show
Knowing they’re out there, clapping with cheer
Brings to my eye a nice, thankful tear

The love and support they share is amazing
It makes my feet fly and my heart simply sing
I’m grateful to have each on my side
Tagging along and going for the ride

Standing outside screaming and waiting
Could leave one feeling bored and, honestly, hating
But the cheerleaders stood, happy and true
Lining the streets of ol’ Kalamazoo

During the race, their presence was felt
Thinking back, it makes my heart melt
Their signs were the best on all of the course
Drawing me in like a powerful force

To Kelly and Mr. B, I have to say “thanks”
You made this race the top of the ranks
I can’t stress enough how much that it means
To have you in many of my race-day scenes

Thank you, oh, thank you, 1 million times
I’m afraid that I’m running out of my rhymes
In closing, I’ll say, you simply are swell
A fact all must know, so I just had to tell

All the signs

The runners, the cheerleaders and the signs.

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