Monday, April 29, 2013

I've been saying this for the past three years, but I love marathons--maybe none so much as the OKC Memorial Marathon I did this weekend, because it's home to me.

I love everything about them.
The rush of lining up in your corral next to all the other crazies. Praying for strength, praying for no injuries, and most importantly, praying you won't poop in your very short shorts (a very legitimate concern, trust me).

The slew of supportive fans who yell and clap and read your name off your bib and cheer, "Go Jena, go! You're almost there, darlin'!" (I even love the fans who called me Gina.) The posters. Molly's incredible family made several ("Molly and Jena, kick some Ass-phault!") and I saw some that made me laugh despite the grueling pain my crotchbiscuits were feeling: "You've trained longer than Kim Kardashian's marriage!" and "I don't do marathons. I DO a marathon runner." (Grahm needs that sign. Ha.)

The camaraderie of the other runners. Mile 22, I hit a gino wall square in the nose. I couldn't get passed it, and I wondered if I should just walk the rest of the way. Several runners passed me and said, "We're almost there! Don't give up!" or "You can do it! You're so close!" This, I'm sure, was said in spite of their own pain. It caused me to smile, buck up, and start running again. I also loved seeing all the red. Red socks. Red anklets. Red shirts. Almost everyone was showing their support for Boston as we mustered our way through the agonizingly wonderful 26.2 miles. It's such a sense of community, and I absolutely love that.

Marathons are soul-searching. They make you dig down deep inside of yourself and discover what you're really made of, and for that, I will always always love them.
This was in front of the wall containing the names of the 168 victims of the OKC bombing at the expo.
In our corral at 6:20 a.m. We had just prayed together. We were pumped and tired and worried about pooping in our short britches.
Not so sure about this . . .
Pushing my very weary muscles toward the finish line. Everyone on the sidelines was clearly captivated by me.
My number one fan. He told me all week how amazing I am, he cheered loudly, he snapped pictures, he held my hand and ran with me at mile 22 when I shouted, "I can't do much more," and he went crazy as I neared the finish line. 
My fantastic sibs.
So proud of Molly, completing her first marathon and beating her goal. We had an incredible support system. Our families and our boys were the best cheerleaders!
Now I've got to soak my Aunt Jemima-sized blisters because the next race is only 8 weeks away.

Running to Remember

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I am a runner.
I've sensed the sheer elation that comes from forcing my limbs to cross the finish line after 26.2 grueling miles. The relief, the joy, the wonder. It's all so indescribable until you've taken the 26.2-mile journey yourself--until you've triumphed over something few people are crazy enough to ever venture.

I am runner. 
When I picture their haggard bodies crossing that finish line with one final burst of determination, when I envision their tears of joy and pain as they neared the end, when I imagine their thoughts "Almost there, almost there," when I think of the hundreds of innocent bystanders cheering on the Olympians, the moms, the lifelong friends, the siblings, the marathoners . . .

My world seems to close in on me for a moment. Everything goes dark. And I'm left wondering, like everyone else, why.

I am a runner.
Running for me is freedom. It's safety. It's the friend who always loves you back. It's the mother who's caring arms are always there to carry you. It's the empowerment of putting one foot in front of the other, gloriously abandoning that stupid voice in your head that keeps telling you to quit.

And yesterday, yesterday's tragedy violated that. It stripped the running community of our sense of security and accomplishment. This cruel, broken world completely leveled us. And we're all, runner or not, trying to understand.

I am a runner.
In less than two weeks, when I find my corral at the Oklahoma City Memorial marathon, I'm going to stand tall. I'm going to be silent for 170 seconds for those innocent lives lost in the bombing 18 years ago in OKC. And yesterday in the bombing at Boston.

I'm going to run because I never want to live in a place of fear. I'm going to run to show the bombers that they didn't win. I'm going to run to prove that the running community is just that, a community. We band together. We hurt together. We stick together, mile after stinking mile. We bleed together. And we race together.

I am a runner, and I'm going to run to remember.

for Blayne

Friday, April 5, 2013

I've been away from Grahm Cracker for a whopping four days, and I'm already having withdrawals. I'm like a junkie looking for her dealer. (Yes, I did just compare my husband to an addiction to cocaine.)

Point is, I miss him.
This week has made me realize just how easy my little life is. Every once in a blue moon, Grahm or I have to go away on a business. But every other night, we're together in our beautiful home. When you think about it, five or six days really is nothing (not that I hold to that claim when I'm on a diet).

I don't know how women all over the world go for month after agonizing month without the men in their lives.

The last few days have made think of my one of my beautiful best friends who lives in Germany right now. Two years ago, she had her first child alone in a German hospital. She didn't know anyone. She didn't speak the language. And her husband had just been deployed. It was a few months before Steven returned and met his baby girl.

I'm in awe of Blayne's strength and optimism and fearlessness. She truly is an inspiration. And I know there are women all over our country who are doing the same brave thing she has to do every day as part of the military world.

To the woman who curls up alone in bed and wishes her sweet man was there to snuggle with, to the women who make dinner for one every night, to all the gals who hear strange noises and don't have their burly men to go check it out, to the women who eat an entire gallon of ice cream wishing their men were home to blame it on, to the girl who has to carry in the groceries and take out the trash because her husband isn't home to help her, to the women who raise and discipline their children on their own, to the girls who are forced to love from afar, to the women who simply want to be with the one they love most . . .

Thank you. Thank for being braver and stronger than I ever could.

the windy city

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

If you know me at all, you know I'm about as independent as a barnacle on the side of a ship. I'm incredibly needy (lucky Grahm), and I'm not good at being alone. So as you can probably imagine, I'm not a stellar traveler when I'm all by my elfinwich... but yesterday, I did it, and I felt a little invincible by doing so.

I was nervous, but excited. It was thrilling to think I could get terribly lost in such a busy city (a lot to take in for this simple Oklahoma gal). Thankfully, after a long train ride and a few wrong turns, I found myself at Millennium Park. I was so glad to see the Bean! After snapping several pictures with my jazzy new camera (that I have no idea how to use), I meandered down Michigan Avenue and explored some of the intriguing shops.

After a couple of hours of exploring Chicago and not getting lost (applause, applause), I treated myself to some delicious jumbo Chicago cheese popcorn--which was possibly the best decision I've ever made (apart from marrying Grahm Cracker, of course).

Linking up with the fabulous Helene for Travel Tuesday!


Monday, April 1, 2013

Doing anything before six in the morning should be criminal. (On a rare and particularly desperate occasion, I'd be okay with eating a donut.) But flying at the buttcrack of dawn, let alone traveling on April Fool's Day? No way, Sancho.

The lack of sleep I got last night in preparation for this flight to Chicago left me in quite the crotchety mood this morning. Seriously, put me in a trash can and call me Oscar cause I was a mega grouch. It was my fault though. Packing at two a.m. isn't really ideal planning, especially when you have to consider the weather difference. (The high in San Antonio today is 85, and Chicago is colder than a witch's nips.)

My pleasant mood was only heightened upon going through security. A man dressed in a tweed suit was standing in front of me, clearly on a business trip. When the line was moving along, the TSA official asked me to "follow my dad in line." I wanted to shout, "Hey, I'm on a business trip too!" but I didn't. It certainly didn't help my very present complex of looking like a pre-pubescent boy.

Whenever I'm in an airport, I always think people are staring me. "Who's the small child wandering aimlessly around? Poor thing, we should help her find her mummy." Whenever I see their sympathetic stares, I want to wring their little crotchbiscuits and say, "I may be midget size, but I'm an adult." I simultaneously want to ask them to carry my bags because my fetus arms can't heave-ho them into the overhead bin. (Conundrum, bum.)

Due to my lack of slumber and the rude security official, my normal decision-making skills (which are always spot on by the way) were skewed. I wanted to play a joke; it IS April Fool's, dontcha know. This holiday didn't stop simply because I was in an airport. (This is what my sleep-deprived logic was saying anyway.)

So badly I wanted to throw caution to my hind parts and obnoxiously yell down the terminal, "Bomb! Bomb! I've got a bomb between my boobs!" (Granted, it would be a teeny tiny one.) I just want to see how people would react. Would they take this 105 pounder with the baby face as smooth as JLo's buns seriously? Grahm said yes, I said nay. Obviously, I'd say April Fool's before they brought out the Rottweiler to sniff around my hot pocket. I had a grown-up moment (rare) and didn't listen to my Zzz-less brain (#regrets).

Now I'm in my hotel room, cranking up my heater and layering up to face the windy city. Look out, Chicago. This twelve-year-old who has been deprived of a good April Fool's joke is on the loose.