My First True Long Run: 8.33 Miles!

Today I proved to myself that I really am improving as a distance runner.

Next weekend is my first 15k, and I have admittedly slacked off in my training. I went out the first two Friday nights and missed my Saturday runs, which is very unlike me. Usually I’m very responsible. Honestly, I think it was passive-aggressiveness because I was afraid to try. I want this so much. Deep down, I didn’t think I could do it. Why find out the truth?

But swag saved me! I got an e-mail telling me that since this is my 3rd consecutive year doing the Hot Chocolate Run in Chicago, I qualify as a “legacy.” I will get an extra medal with a pink “bronze” level diamond shape, plus a pin and a black beanie with the same design and “3” on it. SOLD! That was when I officially signed up– the money had been paid. No backing out!

So this weekend I told myself this 8 mile training run needed to be DONE, because I can’t fail in Chicago October 29. I need to be ready and confident.

Why? Because my Dad is going to support me. It’s my birthday present. I asked that he come to one of my races, and thought he’d pick a local one. But he instead committed to the one where I need him most: my first TRUE distance race! (I define that as a race beyond a 10k.)

And my Dad does not like going into the city. I think it’s been years– he’s 75.

But he’s going to do it, for me. We’re going to ride together. And while he’s not going to hold a sign, it’s enough for me knowing he’ll be out there at the finish line. I plan to text him when I’m coming close so that he can keep an eye and yell loud for me! And of course, take pictures. ūüôā Then we’ll go eat!!

This especially means a lot because he cancelled the original delivery date of his new fridge– the 29th– specifically to keep his promise to me. When he first brought it up, I thought it was his excuse to cancel. I hadn’t wanted to get my hopes up.

My Dad used to go to all my volleyball games in grade school, even though I rarely played the first two of four years. I was 4’7″ and uncoordinated. In college, he once drove 2+ hours to my college to see opening night of a play on a Thursday night! And brought flowers. I was just an ensemble character.

But I’ve been racing since 2015, nearly three years, and he hasn’t been to any of my races. I felt sad and resentful about it. But I told myself that he’s older, he’s set in his routine, and I shouldn’t take it personal.

Maybe he’s going now because I’ve proven that I’m serious about running? Or because this year I finally expressed to him how much I *wanted his support.

A 15k is 9.3 miles. And I’m running this alone, without a friend. For that reason, I almost backed out — a couple times. I didn’t want to face such a monumental moment in my running career without SOME kind of support. But I ultimately wanted to advance my training more than I wanted company. I could have easily signed up for the 5k, since that distance is on the circuit for my running club.

Instead, I chose to push myself. I even corresponded with my running mentor and she drew up a plan for me. I didn’t follow it, but I knew I was still capable. I was still touched she made the time to draw it up and is still encouraging me.

The race is next Sunday. But I’m smart enough to know that I can’t get in a long training run the day before; my legs will need rest.

So today when I went out, I set my distance for 8 miles. And I had heard of possible rain, so prepared by wearing a rain jacket specifically for running. And am I glad! I faced headwinds nearly 15 mph on an incline and the last four miles it was raining! My arches were hurting inside my shoes, too. I ran on.

I have never exerted myself so much running. The inclement weather half-way only motivated me to keep running, rather than slow down. When I got home, I was legit exhausted in a way I’ve never been prior!! I ended up surpassing my goal and making it 8.33 miles instead! I thought about 9, but my feet hurt too much.

I was laughing to myself, flushed. Ecstatic. Talk about a runner’s high! I took a post-run selfie and posted it via Nike Running Club on facebook!

Eight hours later, my legs hurt. But it’s a gleeful pain. It’s a runner’s rite of passage.

And of course, my music helped tremendously.

Lord, THANK YOU for this glorious burst of athleticism and confidence today.

I need it. And I earned it!!

Mile by mile, I’m proving to MYSELF that I’m strong and disciplined.

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Excavating the Splinter

I feel seriously tough tonight!

For a week, I’ve had a splinter festering. The culprit was a wooden fan.

I kept hoping it would work it’s way out– but it was burrowing deeper. Worse, it was underneath the skin; nothing was poking out.

Like most kids, I grew up with my Dad doing the minor surgery required in the past. We always used a needle and alcohol– usually at the kitchen table.

I could feel it had already been too long and knew I had to take action today.

I asked a co-worker who is a mother of two to appraise it: she suggested tweezers. Obviously I didn’t have the tools at work.

This evening, I called over and asked for my parents’ help.

I brought my own needle and alcohol pad wipes over.

With a new sewing needle wiped clean and sterilized, my Dad broke the skin and then used the needle to try and push it out by dragging the needle across it. It wasn’t working. It made me sad that he didn’t seem to know anymore how to fix it.

He’s always known exactly what to do– always able to make quick decisions.

Luckily, I was paying attention all those times as a kid. And *I remembered the routine he had shown me myriad times in my life. Plus, my hands are smaller. I can maneuver better.

But he did help me– with moral support. My Step-mom Diane, too. And I needed it.

He held my finger steady while I poked around with the needle to dig it out. I YELLED. Doesn’t matter what age you are, splinters are always a bitch!

Then I asked Diane for some tweezers and she went upstairs to loan me hers. As she returned, they were gleaming. Might as well have been a surgical instrument! She stood by.

I grasped the edge of that splinter and –with my LEFT hand, mind you!!– yanked!!

I GOT IT!

It wasn’t long, but was a good size. Underneath the skin. It was square and jagged. It appeared to have all come out intact, what a relief! I yelled in joy.

“YES!!”

We worked as a team. They were happy to help and we all laughed about it.

Sometimes life gives us those little problems to remind us that we’re loved.

That it’s okay, and even good, to ask for help.

And maybe one day, I’ll be lucky enough to help my own kid excavate their splinter– just like my Dad taught me.

Things John Bohrer Says

That’s my Dad.

This afternoon, I lamented briefly.

“I feel like I play by the rules and do everything right, and where does it get me?”

“Well you’re not in jail.,” he said. “You’re not in the hospital. You’re not in the cemetery. It’s all relative.”

I had to laugh! He smiled.

Right again. My Dad is equally logical and affable.

I’m usually affable, and becoming more logical everyday.

Logic is beautiful. Yes or no. Right or wrong.

Simple. I like simple.

A Vacation, Hedge Apples, and my Dad

I just returned from a 10-day vacation to Kansas, to visit my family.

It was amazing, just what I needed. Being surrounded by family.

I documented it via pictures on Facebook, but didn’t have consistent computer access ¬†to blog. And when I did, I was too tired.

Odd– the TV is on and I just heard the theme song to “The Young and the Restless.” My grandmother used to LOVE that show. She loved it so much that I knew not to call on Thursdays during that hour. I’m talking about my hometown, where she lived– and that TV show comes on. Just that little moment, that little memory, I feel her with me right now.

Anyway, I could have blogged, but I didn’t. And I was okay with that.

But one of the best memories I had was just picking hedge apples. It was my first time! I’ve been talking to people about them around here, and no one has heard of them. Apparently they are a uniquely country thing– not happening around this region of Illinois.

I got to drive with my father in our family pasture– we come from farmers. He grew up on a farm. We drove around in this giant silver F-150 pick-up, loud as hell. I watched my father, who just turned 71 yesterday, get out and move these barbed wire fences several times out of the way. He wrangled those with such ease– and he just seemed so happy. Watching him stride around the plains, I’ve never seen him look so peaceful.

He stopped the truck and let me get out to pick some hedge apples! They were up high, and I needed a boost. He helped me to reach one on a high branch, and I managed to get one. It oozed sap– apparently they’re poison! They’re like giant, bumpy, Granny Smith apples. I was giddy with this simple pleasure. I knew this was a memory I’d treasure with my father for the rest of my life.

Last night for his birthday, we went to see “Gravity,” in 3-D. I had to giggle because ever since that Father’s Day with the “Crazy-ass glasses,” we keep ending up at 3-D movies. He’s learned to tolerate them better now. I’m just glad I got to go with him. Movies are what my Dad and I do, besides dinner.

There is so much more I could write about… but I am content with just this little story.

I don’t need to write as much anymore, and that’s okay.

Sometimes happiness is in the white space.

One Our Father and Three Hail Marys

That was my Penance tonight, after Confession.

I left the Confessional with tears, as I usually do. And I felt wonderful.

I can’t imagine anything more sad than NOT being able to have a good cry.

Crying is good for you. Humility is good for you.

The salt washes our guilt clean.

I had texted my Dad earlier, telling him I was in the back of the church and wearing my dark green vest. I hadn’t found him anywhere.

That had been 40 minutes ago.

I was getting anxious, because he had responded that he was on his way– and he’s never late. If anything, he’s 10 minutes early. He lives maybe 10 minutes away.

My Dad is 70. A very fit and active 70, but still.

Had something happened to him on the way? I was beginning to fidget, restless in line.

I texted him again– “Still coming?”

I kept glancing behind me, to the doors of the church. Searching for his tall frame to come in.

And I turned forward, to see him standing right in front of me in line– two people ahead. I had been so wrapped up in worry that I couldn’t see what was right ahead of me… my own father.

He smiled his gentle smile. Relief flooded my heart.

He went in and emerged soon after, knelt in a pew. After mine, I joined him. We sat side by side. That’s a moment I know I’ll cherish forever.

Just that quiet moment, of sitting by my father in church after Confession. Of the relief of knowing he was there all along.

It’s a lot like how we feel about God.

We spend all this time searching for God– for “signs” of him. Is he with us? Will he talk to us?

But whether we see him or not, he is always there to support us– quietly. Just like my father, always there.

Crazy-ass Glasses: Dad, The Green Lantern, and 3-D giggles

“Do I have to wear those crazy-ass glasses?!”

That’s all my Dad wanted to know when I suggested to see The Green Lantern in 3-D last night after our Fathers’ Day dinner as a family. I suggested he and I go see a movie, just us, and there weren’t many show times available. The only one that worked was in 3-D. We didn’t want to go to a late show.

“When’s the last time you saw a movie in 3-D, Dad, 25 years ago? C’mon.

So we made a deal.

No sitting in the front row. Done!

As is often the case, I couldn’t help but giggle.

The previews took forever, longer than it seemed they ever have.

I couldn’t help joking with him about the 3-D.

“Are you ready, Dad?”

He dutifully put the glasses on when the main feature was about to begin. He sighed.

I giggled.

The movie began, and immediately, I knew I would hate it.

He seemed non-plussed as well.

“Do you like this?” I asked. I was hoping we could just leave. The beginning was a lot of voice-overs and quiet conversation– I couldn’t hear. Too serious, too sci-fi, an alien council of elders in outer space. No!

But he wanted to stay.

A few times, I checked to make sure he wasn’t asleep– he was so quiet, so still. It’s not like him.

I felt kind of lame for not picking a better movie– but it was either this or Mr. Popper’s Penguins! I had wanted him to come sing karaoke with me, like he had done for my birthday. But no dice.

After the movie was over, we were both up and ready to go as soon as the credits rolled.

He said the 3-D wasn’t so bad– but it wasn’t too heavy in this movie. Good thing it hadn’t been “Avatar!”

Walking out of the theatre, I realized that it hadn’t been a waste at all.

His review of the movie was perfect: “It’s kinda horse shit. I wouldn’t recommend it. I don’t think it’s going to be a block buster.”

“That was awful!” I said.

“It was the worst,” he replied.

“EVER?” I was incredulous.

“I think so.”

Ha! I was there to witness the worst movie he’s EVER seen.

My Dad is great at making his point quickly, in a colorful way. To the point! That’s my Dad. I smiled.

Walking back to the car, I felt so happy. I’m only 4’11”, and my Dad is a lumberjack of a¬†man. Six foot, broad shoulders, good posture, always walking swiftly. He takes long steps. As a little girl, I seemed to take four steps for every one of his giant ones.

“Daddy, slow down!” I’d say.

“Your legs work!” he’d say, with a wink.

I felt so much affection for my Dad, just walking back to the car.

“Once I start a movie, I finish it,” he said.¬†“Just to see how¬†bad it is!”

During the movie I had wished it was something funny, so we could interact more and enjoy it together. But it seemed that our mutual boredom and two-thumbs down review afterward was just as much of a bonding experience, if not more.

We’ve seen all three Lord of the Rings together. We typically see action movies, or comedies.

And I knew it would be another simple memory I’ll keep forever: his apprehension about the “crazy-ass glasses,” and blunt review afterward.

“Not such a good a movie, but good company,” as he said.

As he pulled up to the house, I thanked him for going with me.

“Happy Fathers’s Day, Dad.”

He smiled and said, “Thank you, honey. You’re the reason I’m a father.”