Diversions

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AGMA thought October was going to be a crazy month…

Two weeks ago, on 10/3, I flew to Chicago.  At O’Hare, I met my friend who had been flying for over 30 hours to get to the Windy City from her home in Australia.

She looked amazingly perky.  AGMA would have been bleary eyed, grouchy and hangry.

But then she is 20 years younger than me…  Bitch.

We spent the next few days hanging out with TMAGITW (the most adorable grandchildren in the world) and seeing the sights in a rainy, cloudy Chicago.

Then on Sunday, 10/7, we both ran in the Chicago Marathon.

What???

AGMA finished.  But I was very sloooooow.  Let me put it this way…  You could have flown from Chicago to Dublin, Ireland in the time it took me to run/walk the marathon.

Where’s my Guinness?

And, against all odds (medical issues and under-training), my friend finished as well.  It was a show of true grit and determination on her part.   She wanted to give up at the 30K mark, but, because she was running in the 2nd largest marathon in the world, she pushed on.  This was her first marathon.

AGMA was incredibly proud of her.

I’m convinced that the main reason we both finished was because we had:

THE.BEST. CHEER. SQUAD. EVER.  

My sweet B (almost 4 years old) and my darling V (almost 2 years old) were at mile 9 and then again at the finish holding their sign, GO NANA RUN   

The picture my DIL took of me, B, V and my son with the sign will be one of the photos that will go in the the “pictures for the photo montage at AGMA’s memorial service” box.

I honestly can’t even begin to describe how special that run was because they were there watching and cheering.

Crusty ol’ AGMA got a tear or two in her eyes.

Then, on Monday the 8th (still very sore from the marathon), my Aussie friend and I flew back to Altanta.  AGMA began her 7 day stint as the Atlanta hostess with the mostess.

I can even begin to list the  “stuff” we did while she was visiting.  We spent 7 days on the run.  She’s a very laid back, easy going guest (I mean, she’s Australian…), but AGMA still felt pressure to make sure she had a memorable visit by doing and seeing as much as we could.

Hence no WP post last week.  Sorry!

She jetted off to NYC this past Tuesday.  I wonder if she was as tired as I was?

Probably not.  Bitch.

But no rest for a wicked AGMA…

This week has been hectic with playing catch up from the previous two weeks, working a job, seeing School of Rock (so cute!), helping new citizens register to vote, 2 physical therapy appointments, a haircut, and and and…

The rest of the month isn’t going to be any better.

Warning: posts may be few and far between for the next few weeks.

But the busyness of the past 2 weeks has been a wonderful diversion; a much needed break from Cadet Bonespur’s unhinged insanity, social media bad news, and the Georgia election frenzy.

I was touring Chicago when sexual predator Brett “I like beer” Kava-NOT was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

I missed the first reports of Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal and savage dismemberment death at the hands of the Saudi’s in Istanbul because we were in the North Georgia mountains.

And I missed the initial report that the Georgia Secretary of State and elections czar, Brian Kemp, who happens to also be running for governor against a very popular African American woman, Stacey Abrams, was not processing 53,000 new voter registrations (mostly minority voters) because of a 2017 enacted “exact match” requirement.  This, of course, was passed to suppress minority voters.

You can read about it here.

Of course, civil right groups are suing claiming that the “exact match” requirement violates the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

And they would be right.  But it probably won’t matter in Georgia, a state where the GOP has elevated voter suppression, election tampering and gerrymandering to fine art.

So AGMA’s two weeks of sightseeing, running and tour guiding were lovely diversions from the relentless sh*t that Americans have to face everyday when they look at social media or watch the news or read the newspaper (do people still do that?)

Can we go back to having a President who causes a scandal because he sports a tan suit or his wife wears a sleeveless dress?

Life was so much simpler in the “good old days”!

 

 

 

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Oh my…

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Yeah I did!!

That was fun.  I think.

AGMA’s not sure that I’ve ever thought of a marathon as fun, but this was probably as close to being fun as one can get.

No – it was definately fun!

To relieve the burning question you all have – I did finish.  Barely.

But let’s start from the beginning….

We arrived in Pauillac on September 7.  Pauillac is in the Haut-Medoc region of Bourdeux.  The wine in this area is spectacular.  But since AGMA was going to attempt to run/walk 26.2 miles (42KM) in two days, I needed some restraint.

I was semi-successful.

It was difficult.  There was/is wine everywhere.  Everywhere.  Good wine for very little $$. Great wine for very little $$.

There was wine at the little Expo.

Every marathon has an expo the day before (or sometimes two days) the run.  The runners pick up their running “bibs” (with their number on them and timing chips on back) and get a goodie bag (ususally).  There are also booths and displays from vendors trying to sell you running “stuff”.

This one had wine.  Lots of it.

Then there was the pasta “dinner” the night before the marathon at Chateau Livran.  For 1500 close friends.  That started – started mind you – at 8:30 P.M.

It was beyond description so I’ll just post a few pictures.

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The calm before the storm…  Because of Hubs mobility issue, they let us into the dining area early.

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This was a man who was dressed like a woman who evidently decided that undergarments were for the weak.  This was evident when he lifted his arms to dance or bent over, which he did frequently.  Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!

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Each time a new wine was served, the wine stewards marched out to music each carrying 6 to 8 bottles.

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The first of 4 bottles of wine – all from different wine Chateau’s – they brought for Hubs and I, and a couple from England we were sitting with!

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And then everybody danced.  And danced.  And danced!

OMG – the French sure know how to have a pasta dinner!

AGMA tried to be restrained.  I only sampled each wine and probably had 2 glasses total. Others were not quite so restrained.

Ah, to be young again.

I felt it was a poor decision for others to dance when they were going to run a marathon the next day.  Tut, tut…

That is until the band played Pharrell’s song, Happy.  And Earth, Wind and Fire’s song September.

Yup.  AGMA joined in the party.

Hubs and I tore ourselves away from the party and headed back to Pauillac at 10:15 P.M.  This was BEFORE they served dessert.   At that point, we’d been served 4 bottles of wine between 4 of us.  Who know how much was served after we left…

Every party needs a pooper right?  An AGMA pooper.

Thankfully, the marathon didn’t start until 9:30 A.M.  And AGMA was stealth in planning this trip – we were in an AirB&B in Pauillac, about a 10 minute walk to the start of the run.  And the finish.

So I got a good night’s sleep.

Thank God.

I’m not going to go into details about the run.  AGMA will just say it with pictures….

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Vikings!

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1st of 20 wine stops

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I saw this guy finish!  He ran 26.2 mile wearing an Eiffel Tower.  Yikes!

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The theme was 33 RPM because it was the 33rd running running of the marathon.  Lots of hippies, rockers and, especially Elvis’.

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Lots and lots and lots of men dressed as women.  tRump would have a fit.  Or try to pick one up…

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The guys in red had inflatable dinosaurs on them!  Normal for a marathon really… NOT!

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OMG – I got behind the sweep wagon!  If you are behind these guys at the finish, you don’t get a medal.  AGMA hauled butt after I snapped this!

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Just another Chateau to drink at!

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Caught guys (again, dressed as women…) peeing in the vineyards while I snapped a picture of one of several beautiful rainbows during the run.

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AGMA stems afterward!

There was a naked guy who had nothing but his bib in front of his twig and berries who threw up at one of the wine stops.  That picture might be TMI…

So AGMA finished.  I got the medal.  I got the backpack.  I got the bottle of wine.

Official time…slow.  Let’s just say I beat the sweepers, but I’m pretty sure they slowed down along the way.

This was a good thing since I was over 6 hours and 30 minutes…

I’m sore.  And still tired.

But boy, was it fun!

Next year?

 

Parlez-vous bucket list?

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AGMA’s getting ready for a bucket list experience.

Okay – it wasn’t really on my bucket list, but then again, I don’t really have a bucket list.

Well, I do, but it’s a dynamic list. Most things get added after I’ve done them.

It’s also a mental list. God forbid I writing/type anything down. That would be a bit too ‘restrictive’. And concrete.

AGMA likes flexiblity.

It’s just soooooo satisfying to add things to my mental bucket list after I’ve done them, then mentally check them off the list.

I think there might be a diagnosis for that.

Hubs and I leave on Sunday for 23 days in France.

What?? 23 days?? Are you crazy?? Are you rich??

23 days in France. Yes. Maybe. No.

We made the airline reservations way back in January right before the inauguration. Getting out of the country for an extended period seemed like a really good idea at the time.

Still does.

And we caught an amazing sale. $394 RT per person from ATL to CDG.

Yeah we did!

And we were heady at the prospects of Hubs impending retirement and no restrictions on vacation length anymore. We really didn’t think through the budget restrictions we would have after retirement…

But AGMA’s a ‘value’ travel planner so I think we’ll be okay.

Lots of Airbnb’s and budget hotels. But they all have good reviews, so no bed bugs. Hopefully.

And lots of ‘value’ meals. We need to cut back on calories anyway.

AGMA’s going to try to post while we are gone. ‘Try’ being the operative word. I might just post a “Hello, we are in ______. Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.”

We’ll see how things go.

Getting back to the bucket list experience that I didn’t know was on my bucket list until February…

Since I was planning on running the Rome marathon in April, I figured AGMA would make 2017 the year of the international marathon. I started looking for a marathon to run in Europe during this trip.

And boy, did I find one!

It’s called the Marathon du Medoc and is unlike any other marathon in the world.

Turns out, it’s on many runner’s bucket lists. Who knew?

It’s in the Bordeaux region of France where some of the best wines in the the universe are produced.

So it would be natural that instead of water stops for runners, there are wine stops right?

Twenty (20) to be exact, from some of the top wine Chateau’s in the world. Actually, you can get water at the wine stops too, but seriously?

Wimps.

Aside from the wine, there are ‘nutrition’ stops. But instead of the orange slices and bananas and energy gels you get at a normal marathon, they will have breads and sweets and meats and cheeses.

BONUS – at mile 20…oysters!

Finally, all the runners dress up. Well – the fun ones dress up. Which is about 90% of the 8500 runners.

Hey, AGMA’s fun.

But AGMA has to schlep my costume across the Atlantic in my little suitcase. So I opted for compact, easy to run in and cheap so I can pitch it all afterwards.

And nothing says compact, easy to run in and cheap like HULA GIRL!!

Yes – AGMA is going to be a hula girl. But don’t expect any pictures. Nah baby nah.

I don’t mind exposing my chubby arms and midriff to a bunch of crazy, drunk French strangers, but to post a picture of Hula AGMA for the rest of the world to see…

Oh, the humanity!

The marathon time limit is 6 hours and 30 minutes. My fastest marathon was 6 hours and 10 minutes. And I thought I was going to die afterwards.

This does not bode well. Especially since there’s wine involved.

But then again, maybe the wine will help.

So AGMA’s decided not to stress about it and just enjoy what is sure to be a once in a lifetime experience. If I end up swimming in the pond at Chateau Lafite Rothschild for the afternoon, so be it.

Two things I know for sure. It’s going to be unlike anything I’ve ever done. And I’m gonna come back with some pretty good stories.

Aging Gracefully My Ass!

Catch you on the other side of the Pond.

P.S. If you are in the US and haven’t yet donated towards the relief efforts of the historic, devastating Texas floods, please consider donating today to the charity of your choice. Just make sure it’s legit… Love you all for your generous hearts and spirits!

Ciao Bella Italy Part Uno

 

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AGMA’s baaaacccckkk!

Actually, I’ve been home for over a week.

Jet lag’s a bitch.

Italy was lovely. That’s what I’ve been telling everybody…. Italy was lovely. Not that I had a fabulous time, or that it was great or wonderful or fantastic.

It was just lovely.

I think AGMA needs to stay home a while. I think I’m starting to get blasé about traveling. I’ll have to ponder that…

It could be that I traveled with a friend I’ve never traveled with before. CB’s a lovely, delightful person who’s been a friend for 30 years.  She’s also much loved by scores and scores of people.

Seriously.

And for a very long time, AGMA wanted to be CB. I wanted to live her life. I envied her rock solid marriage, her family – 4 sons who cherish her and get along with each other, her career (one of those $150/hr consulting things) and her gracious hostessing skills.

But most of all, I envied her scores of friends and relatives who absolutely adore her. A-D-O-R-E. I mean, if she would meet an untimely end tomorrow, there would literally be 1000’s at her funeral, all wailing and weeping and gnashing their teeth.  Me included.

So I pretty much thought CB was everything that I wanted to be. I always wanted lots of adoring friends, but it’s just never happened. And probably never will. AGMA’s a bit too crusty to be adored.

CB IS a lovely person and a good friend, but….

You never truly, really know somebody until you travel with them.

We are very different people. That became pretty obvious on our trip. There weren’t any major issues or confrontations, thank God. That would’ve been miserable. But we definitely have different “styles” and ways of approaching things.

AGMA’s not going to get into specifics. But while the feeling that I wanted to be her, to live her life, has faded over the years, I came home from our trip convinced that I did not want to be her, to live her life.

As imperfect as it is, AGMA kinda likes her own skin.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

So Italy was lovely.

We were in Rome for the first 5 days. Some of CB’s adoring fans are former business associates who live near Rome, so we had dinner with them (O & V) several evenings. It was awesome to have their translation skills and culinary advice.

One evening, O advised me to order the lamb entrails for dinner. She said it was a very typical Roman dish and was served for breakfast on Easter morning in many Roman households. “Hey”, I thought, “When in Rome…eat like a local. I like lamb. Why not?”

AGMA’s face was quite expressive when the server put my order on the table.

Nothing. Like. Lamb chops.

A heaping plate of brownish gray cooked lamb guts. I mean heaping. And I swear they were staring at me.

Watching my every move…

Golly, I can’t think of anything better to serve on Easter morning!

I made a brave effort to eat some of it, but thankfully there was plenty of other more than palatable food on the table that wasn’t staring at me. I think O was disappointed I didn’t chow down on it. She took the leftovers home to her dog who I’m sure did chow down on it.

But AGMA was somewhat subdued during our time in Rome.

I was running the Rome Marathon on our last full day in Roma and was worried about passing the medical exam that I needed to actually be able to run.

It’s a long story, but Italy has some weird medical requirements for people who want to run marathons. Marathons in the US will pretty much let anybody run. They really don’t care if you keel over with a stroke or heart attack. As long as you pay your entry fee and check the little box that you won’t hold anybody liable for anything, you’re good to go.

Evidently Italy doesn’t want you stroking out.

There was one test they required that would have been very expensive to get in the US, so I opted to get my exam in Rome two days before the marathon.

On March 31, I was whisked away from the Rome Marathon expo to parts unknown in a Smartcar by an Italian gentleman who didn’t speak English. CB anxiously waited for me at the expo, ready to call the police if I didn’t return.

This was going to be an adventure.

After a twenty minute drive, I met Guido, the Sports Medicine Man.

Guido was quite good looking. And much younger than me. And he asked me to take of my shirt.

Things were getting interesting…

AGMA felt like she was in a Fellini movie….“The Cougar and the Sports Medicine Man”

But alas, it was to attach the wires for the EKG to my chest. I wished I’d worn a nicer bra.

He also took my blood pressure. When I told him it might be a little high (I was nervous about failing the exam and not running in the marathon), he said in a husky whisper, “Maybe it’s because I am so close to you.”

Seriously. Sort of. He actually used a normal voice. The husky whisper part was in the dream that AGMA had later that night.

I passed my tests (but my BP was indeed high – probably multiple reasons…) and was able to run in the marathon on April 2nd.

And I finished! And didn’t stroke out. That’s always a good thing.

Just an FYI, it was not mandatory to run naked as the picture of the medal suggests.  That’s also a good thing.

Total self acceptance, lamb guts, Guido and a clothed marathon finish in the shadow of the Coliseum….

Okay, so maybe AGMA’s trip to Italy really was fantastic.

Stay tuned for Ciao Bella Italy Part Due (pronounced doo-eh)!

The ecstasy and the agony

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The ecstasy… AGMA DID finish the New York Marathon on Sunday, Nov 6th!!

Barely.

Yes, it was dark .  And the huge crowds that had cheered the winners nearly 5 hours before had vanished. There were a precious few people in the finish line grandstands to cheer on friends or family members who were like me.

Slow.

But it was a great experience. I think.

Round about mile 20, I went into survival mode. I turn totally inward trying to conserve what energy I have left. No more high fives for the people at the side of the road cheering. No dancing to any of the many bands they had along the course. And I turned my phone off so that I wouldn’t feel obligated to look at the sweet, encouraging “Go AGMA go!” texts people were sending.

It was just me, the road and my short, stumpy legs trying to muster the energy to put one foot in front of the other to move forward.

AGMA almost quit within 2 miles of the finish.

Clearly, you have to have the physical conditioning to run a marathon. Or you hurt yourself. Bad. I saw lots of folks limping those last few miles with ice packs on their knees or tape around their ankles.

Ouch.

But you also have to have the mental stamina. And for AGMA, that’s the rub…

The brain conjures up all kinds of negative message trying to convince you to quit. “You’re way too slow.” “You’re way too old.” “You’ll never make it all the way so give up now.” “WTF??”  It’s brutal.

So when all those negative thoughts pop up, you have to do battle with them.  And just keep putting one foot in front of the other. AGMA wasn’t going fast, but I was going…

And in the end, I got the medal, the bragging rights and the leg cramps.

More ecstasy…the next day, I walked slowly – very slowly – onto a plane for Chicago and a mere three hours later got to meet my fresh out of the oven, adorable granddaughter, V!!

And spend time with her big brother B. Lots of time with B. Lots and lots of time with B.

Which I adored doing last month when I hadn’t just run a marathon. This time it was a bit more challenging to keep up with him. AGMA fell into bed on Monday and Tuesday night, completely exhausted.

Then came Wednesday morning. Along with the Wednesday mourning.

The agony.

Waves of nausea and depression pounded over AGMA as I learned that our President elect was a bigoted, narcissistic, misogynistic, psychopathic sexual predator who has skin as thin as an onion, will have access to our nuclear codes and is Putin’s BFF. Now if that doesn’t start you day off on the wrong foot, I don’t know what will…

To say that AGMA is still in stunned disbelief would definitely be an understatement.

I immediately joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). And I might even join the NAACP and any other organization that will have me that will work to preserve the rights of all Americans.

All Americans. A-L-L Americans. A-L-L.

It’s going to be a long, ugly four years. And a very, very bumpy ride. Buckle up.

In the meantime, AGMA needs to rest and heal. And what better way than a vacation?

Out of the country. Almost as far away as I can get.

Where I don’t have to look at He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s orange face, orange hair and tiny hands on every news program or news website. For crying out loud, if he has to be a racist, misogynistic bigot, at least he could be easy on the eyes…

I’ll try to keep posting when I’m gone, but our trip will be, once again, at the speed of light. Or close to it.

In the meantime, let’s all take a deep, cleansing breath. And remember the words of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr who was himself the target of great violence and hate to the point of being murdered…

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

V

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American Boomers, do you remember the old television show That Was The Week That Was? A 1960‘s precursor to the Saturday Night Live news segment, the show would take the news from the previous week and put a satirical, humorous spin on it. And back in the 60’s, there was a lot going on.

Like now.

But aside from the insanity, drama, joy and tragedy of our crazy world that has dominated the headlines in the past week, each one of us has our own personal story of the week’s insanity, drama, joy and tragedy.

At least that’s true for AGMA.

And for me, it’s been mostly joy. Immense joy.

I HAVE A GRANDDAUGHTER!!

My strong, future President of a granddaughter, V, made her appearance 8 days early on October 30th – much to the delight of her mother who was pretty much over feeling like a whale… Weighing in at a decent 7 lbs 7 ozs, she is a carbon copy of her 22 month old brother when he was a newborn. This bodes well for her because he’s a cutie patootie.

But then AGAM’s hardly unbiased in these things.

And for all you Cubs fans – a World Series observation…

My little V was born last Sunday in Chicago to a household 10 blocks away from Wrigley Field. On that very day, the Cubs got a desperately needed win over the Indians to stay alive in the Series. On Tuesday, the Cubs won again to even the Series. And of course, we all know what happened on Wednesday…

Cubs win, Cubs win, Cubs win!

Coincidence that the Cubs did nothing but win after V was born? AGMA doesn’t think so…

You can thank me later Cubs fans.

I get to meet V on Monday.  I can’t wait to make her acquaintance! And see her big brother again who charms the socks off of me.

In the meantime, AGMA has just a little task to accomplish between now and Monday.

I’m at 12,000 feet right now as I write this, winging my way to the city that never sleeps. The Big Apple. The jewel of the Empire State.  Home of Jerry Seinfeld.

New York City.

It’s been 17 years since I’ve been to New York City, and that was a quick 24 hour in and out to take my son, V’s daddy, on a college visit. The last time I spent more than a day in NYC was in 1976.

I’m betting things have changed since then.

But AGMA’s going to do it up right this time and visit all 5 Burroughs. The hard way.

God willin’ and the crick don’t rise, 49,999 of my closest friends and I will be running in the New York City Marathon on Sunday.

Pray for me…

Because I’m slow and in the last corral to take off, and we set our clocks back on Saturday night, if I finish, it will be 5:30 PMish and dark. The first wave of runners will have already finished, showered and had a meal even before I even start running.

WTF?

But that’s okay. I think it’s going to be one huge party, and AGMA’s always loved a party! And because I’m slow, I just get to enjoy it longer.

And on Monday morning, I’ll hobble onto a plane to meet the first of the next generation of strong women in my family, my sweet V.

And when history is made the next day, Tuesday, November 8, 2016, and a woman is elected President of the already great United States of America, you’ll ask, “Coincidence?”

I don’t think so…

Every beat of my heart

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Twenty years ago, a co-worker of my husband shared his interesting (but completely unscientific) theory of human physiology.  He believed that every heart was created with a finite number of beats.  When you use all the heartbeats up, that was it. Poof, goodbye.  You went over the rainbow post haste.

He used his theory to justify why he didn’t believe in any sort of exercise or physical activity. The faster your heart beat, the more of that finite store of heartbeats were used up. He believed those heartbeats were precious and needed to be conserved.

I wonder how that worked out for him?

No doubt he would have been horrified by me on Sunday.  I probably used up a good three months worth of heartbeats in six hours.  Yikes!

AGMA ran her second full marathon in her life.  26.2 miles.  That’s a lot of heartbeats right there.

What was I thinking?

Like my first 26.2 earlier this year, I was not fast.  “Not fast” being an understatement. As I wrote last February, I am turtle-like when I run long distances.  Or like the little engine that could, just chugging along.  I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I know I can.  Maybe.

Little has changed since last February.

People still think I’m a bit off for starting to run marathons after 60.  To be honest, I still think I’m a lot off.

But, as you know, aging gracefully is not part of the plan…

My ass.

I’m careful. I’ve learned that there are certain physiological limitations of my aging body that demand some modifications and cautions when I run.  That’s why I do interval running.  Run-walk-run.

My muscles don’t have the capacity to work as hard or recover as quickly as when I was thirty.  I guess.  I was never really that physically active when I was younger.  A couple of 5K’s, exercise classes at the YMCA a la “feel the burn” Jane Fonda, racquetball and some tennis, but they were all short lived.

I kind of regret that…

But on the plus side, I didn’t really screw up my body by being uber aggressive at any particular sport or trying to out-downward dog the lady next to me.  Which is probably why I’m doing okay at running +60.  I’m a late bloomer.

Part of the “problem” is that AGMA’s drinking the Kool-aid of the Growing Bolder Facebook page.  Growing bOLDER. Get it?  Cute right?

Growing Bolder’s mantra is hope, inspiration, & possibility; that growing older doesn’t mean that you have to stop dreaming of new possiblities.  We can pick up old dreams or passions that were set aside during the busy years of work and family, or find new dreams to pursue.

And I promise, you don’t have to run a marathon to grow bolder. Or even a half-marathon.  Not everybody’s THAT crazy…  But you can still find new adventures to live no matter what limitations you might have.

Like The Golden Girls, we can still get into plenty of trouble.  Oh, oh – I want to be Blanche!

So two days after my run, I admit I’m still a bit sore. But not as much as you might expect.  Again, AGMA’s all about being careful…  Possibly excessively so.  I’ve got a lot of German in me.

And I’m experiencing a bit of the low-down, ain’t-got-nuttin’-to-train-for, post-marathon blues.  *sigh*

But I’m pretty sure it’ll all pass.

Until it does, I’ll just dream of using up even more heartbeats maybe zip-lining or kayaking.  Or maybe I’ll learn Italian or help people to register to vote or start delivering meals on wheels.

Or dream really, really big…

Running a sub-six hour marathon.

What???

Fuzzy butts as far as the eye could see

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Here’s a running joke…

How can you tell if someone ran a marathon?  Don’t worry; they’ll tell you!  (Rimshot)

But now that we’re on the subject and since you’re virtually twisting my arm, I give up. I’ll tell you.  I ran a marathon.  My first.  Last weekend.  A marathon.  26.2 miles.

Holy crap…  What the hell is wrong with me?  Why would a sane 61 year old person do this?

I think the answer is obvious.  I’m just a little bit crazy.

It’s one thing if your running style resembles the hare.  If you’re fast and have a chance to qualify for Boston.  Or have the chance to win your “age group”.  Or want to be the fastest marathoner in your hometown. You know, those people who run 26.2 miles in three hours.  Freaks.

It’s an entirely different matter if your more “mature” and have telltale tortoise tendencies.  You know, the “little engine that could” syndrome…  I think I can, I think I can; I know I can, I know I can.  Slow and steady.  So slow and steady that it takes you almost six and a half hours to run 26.2 miles.  Not that I’m referring to anybody specifically…

Yeah, okay – that was me.

But as slow as I was, I did finish.  I’d heard that many people break down when they cross the finish line of their first marathon.   It’s an overwhelming accomplishment. Being half German, I felt as if it would be genetically impossible for me to display emotion like that in public.  Part of that whole German stoic work ethic, you know?  You run 26.2 miles, then wash the car, vacuum the house, paint the garage floor then it’s off to pole dancing class.  No big deal.  Just a normal day.

I was wrong.

While I didn’t break down blubbering like Tammy Faye Bakker at a 1985 PTL fundraiser, I did get very verklempt as I crossed the finish.  I was literally fighting back the tears.  I guess my “feeling” brain knew it was a bigger deal than my “thinking” brain wanted to admit.  I guess I was proud of myself.  I’m not used to that feeling.

I’ll tell you…when you’re on your feet for six and a half hours, all sorts of interesting and potentially disturbing thoughts go through your mind.  I discovered all kinds of things about myself and running in general last weekend.  So here’s my brain dump – in no particular order – from my very first “AGMA’s burnin’ off the crazy 26.2 miles”:

  1. The tutu isn’t just for little girls taking ballet lessons any more.  I saw more fuzzy butts last weekend than at my 4th grade ballet recital.  I danced as a stalk of celery in that particular event by the way…  Just go online and search for “running tutu’s” and prepare to scratch your head in bewilderment.  It’s a thing.
  2. Slow runners get minimal love.  At the beginning, there’s great crowd support and music from live bands all along the course.  Yippee!  But as the day wears on, most of the bands playing music shut down.  And the crowds drift away. Instead of wildly cheering crowds at the finish, there a few hardy souls, waiting for “their” runner.  Crickets.  Instead of all of the wonderful treats and give-a-ways at the finish for the runners, there are empty tents with empty tables. More crickets.  I managed to scrounge up a banana and a beer so I was happy.
  3. Suffering in a group is much more fun than suffering alone.  Seriously.  Unless you’re a Kenyan, it’s all about the peer support.  I was mentored by a runner 25 years my junior who helped me get to the finish with a smile on my face. Actually it was more of a crooked grimace.
  4. Just like in life, you have to run your own race.  Most of the time, it means you have to let the hares pass you and not worry about it.  You have a different goal than they do.  I think I can, I think I can; I know I can, I know I can.  Go the distance.  No Rosie Ruiz shortcuts.
  5. A shot of single malt Irish whiskey the night before your run is extremely helpful.  Come to think of it, a shot of single malt Irish whiskey in any situation is extremely helpful.
  6. No matter how svelt and gazelle-like you feel when you’re running, you still have little, squat fireplug legs, a large chest, a short waist and a hefty midsection in the official photographs.  Damn.
  7. A week after you run 26.2 miles, you rear-end will still be sore

I know, seven is a weird number.

Would I do it again?  Oh yeah.

I already have my name in the New York Marathon lottery.  And if I don’t get picked for New York, I’m going to go for the Chicago and Marine Corps Marathon lotteries when they open.  And if I don’t get into those, I’ll probably try Philadelphia.

Because I’m just a little bit crazy.

Aging gracefully my ass!

It was a rough landing

Runningshirt

AGMA’s back!

So I got home from Rome last Wednesday.  By the time I went to sleep that night, I had been up for more than 24 hours straight minus about a 15 minute nap on the Rome to London flight.

Ugh.

I tried really, really hard to sleep on the plane from London to Atlanta, but no dice.  I just can’t sleep on those trans-anyoceanic flights.  I hate that.

Back home, you’d think I’d have slept like a rock that first night back in my own little cozy beddy-bye, totally tuckered out from a busy, long day of travel, right?  Nah baby nah.  It took like two hours to fall asleep.

The cumulative effects of too many cappuccinos that past week perhaps?

I awakened rather urgently at 2:30 AM to (how can I put this delicately…) visit the bathroom not only for #1.  I mean, who does THAT in the middle of the night?  Normally, when I get home from one of these trips,  I need to down a couple of boxes of prunes…oh, excuse me…dried plums, to get myself back in action.

And you can’t just stumble into the bathroom in the dark for #2. The lights have to go on and clean-up is infinitely more involved.  OMG TMI.  I was wide awake when I went back to bed.  My husband was sleeping like a baby.

Sometimes I can’t stand that man.

I managed to get back into a fitful sleep at best.  Asleep, awake, asleep, awake…for the next four hours with some very strange dreams sprinkled in.  Something about a friend working in a balcony of St. Peters Basilica overlooking the huge alter canopy by Bernini running sausages and chunks of ham through a vacuum sealer machine to sell for a funder raiser for the Vatican.  I’m glad Freud is dead.

Thursday morning, I had a sore throat.  Great.  Can it get any better? Jet lagged, sleep deprived and now sick.

And less than 48 hours before a 23 mile training run.  Yeah – you heard me.  23 miles.  My very first 23 mile run.  Possibly the timing of my trip could have been a little bit better.

The only thing good about this whole situation was that I didn’t need to go out to buy some prunes…eh…dried plums at all.   Things just kept on moving.  Gotta look at the positives.  Lemonade outta lemons and all that.  Weird, totally inappropriate analogy…

Anyway, I threw everything I had in my homeopathic and herbal cold remedy medicine chest at this nasty little cold virus plus drank gallons of water.  I even neti potted three times a day.

Yuck.

Then I got up at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning, donned my running regalia and met my group (all 5 of us) for our run.  At mile three I was feeling puny and pretty sure I would only last for another six or seven miles.  Miraculously, with the help of my friends, I kept on going.  It’s totally amazing how much more you can accomplish with the encouragement of a group than if you tried to do it by yourself.

And I did it.  Very slowly, but I did it.  And lived to tell the tale.

Most distance runners are actually crazy people who, on the surface, seem like normal people.  See the picture above.  It’s so true.  As I told my friend Jodi over at Life In Between, there’s a diagnosis for me somewhere out there.

I promise my next post will be about my trip.  Rome was wonderful! The history, the art, the churches, the food, the wine, the people – all amazing and astounding.  A thousand plus topics to blog about.

I think I’ll write about Roman toilets and the unnatural lack of toilet seats.

Naturally.

I’m glad to be back!

Sweatin’ With An Oldie

sweaty

It’s July 30th.  I live in Altanta, Georgia.  I’m sitting outside on a shaded patio at my favorite coffee shop.  It’s getting close to noon. It’s 77 degrees with low humidity with bright sunshine.  A slight breeze is blowing and giving me goosebumps.  I’m glad I brought a light cardigan with me.

Does anybody else think this is strange?

For those of you in other countries or Texas, July in Atlanta is normally fairly miserable.  Fairly a nice way to put it.  It actually sucks.  Hot and very humid. The average temp in July is 89°F. That’s 32°C for those of you who, like me, have the “Fahrenheit to Celsius, Foot to Meter, Ounces to Grams Remedial Conversion Syndrome”…

An average monthly temperature is calculated using the high temps for each day of the month.   So each day is usually higher or lower than the average.  Until now, there have been lots more days higher than the average. It’s been hot.  But as the old saying goes…

“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”

This statement is true.  I lived in Arizona for three years. 105° F with zero humidity isn’t too bad. Sure, you might have to use oven mitts to grab your steering wheel.  Even though your car has a windshield sun blocking screen in it.  And it’s been parked in the shade.  But to the human body, it doesn’t feel as hot as it really is because there isn’t any water vapor in the air.  The lack of humidity helps your sweat evaporate quickly, keeping you cool.  Or cooler.  I feel like Professor Proton…

Add the water vapor and that’s when the stifling misery, the bane of my existence, begins.

Being the sensible, rational person I am – translate that as wimp – my past MO has been to just stay in air conditioning.  I realize I’m very fortunate to be able to pull that off.  Going from an air conditioned house to an air conditioned, garaged car to an air conditioned final destination worked swell.  Hey – I’m one of those “elderly” people they advise stay inside in the AC when it’s hot, remember?  Plus I’m my own heat source because of the big M – menopause.  Some days you just can’t take off enough clothes, you know?

This summer is different.  I started running last year.

I really like running.  I like my running group.  I like running half marathons.  My goal is to run a full marathon soon.  Slowly. Running here is great in the fall, winter and spring.  I asked if I could skip running in the summer.  I got the “stink eye” from my group leader.  Guess not…

So I’ve been running in the heat and humidity.  Outside.  The humidity has been so bad that I start sweating just thinking about going out for a run.  I wring out my visor after every run.  I drip on my cats.  They’re not happy with me.

Speaking of sweat, I’m pretty sure that I’ve set a new record this summer as far as volume goes.  It’s actually been rather alarming – I am not an attractive sweater.  I’m going to contact the Guinness people about getting in their record book.  Or at the very least, try to get a free beer for my troubles.

It’s quite surprising to me that I haven’t keeled over yet.  I do take “sensible” precautions…  Lots of water during the week and on my runs, running in the early morning when it’s infinitesimally cooler and seeking out every leaf and twig for shade even if it means crossing the street multiple times.  But every mile feels like three and about halfway through each run, I start looking at my Garmin every five or ten seconds.  Are we there yet?

I ran this morning in the freakish, but blessed cool of 59°F.  I know the universe playing a cruel trick on me.  This won’t last.  It’s not even August.  Average temp – 88°F.  I’ll be back to wringing out my visor and dripping on my cats sooner than later.  They give me the “stink eye” too…

But as Howlin’ Blind Muddy Slim, Your 60 Minute Jelly-Bellied Toe-Jam Man, always says, “What does not kill you, only makes you stronger.”

So I got that going for me…