Excuse me AGMA, but your ego’s showing


According to vocabulary.com, “A self-deprecating person knows her own weaknesses and shortcomings and isn’t afraid to point them out, often in a humorous way.”

Does that sound like anybody we know?

The opposite of arrogant or boastful, AGMA has a brutal understanding of her weaknesses and shortcomings and, sometimes, it makes for some funny stuff.  But I couldn’t always laugh at it.

Like a kazillion other people of a certain age, I grew up with a ginormous lack of self-esteem.  The reasons are long and messy and complicated, and would be TMI.  Let’s just say that it wasn’t because I didn’t get participation trophy for playing kickball. Or that my mom didn’t praise me enough for cleaning my room.

I often wonder how my life would have turned out had I not, early on in my life, always bought in, hook, line and sinker, to the vile little voice in my head feeding me lines of total bull crap.  “You’re not important.”  “Nobody really cares about you because, I mean, why would they?  You have no redeeming value.”  “Good things don’t happen to you because you don’t deserve it.” “You’re a nobody.” “You’re worthless.”

*uck you, little voice!!

Years of on and off counseling, a renewal of my faith and becoming a mom (of all things!) helped me strangle out those voices.    And they’re almost gone.  Almost. Sometimes, in certain situations, they actually catch my ear for a while before I replace the silencing pin in my Mattel Nasty Voice Voodoo Doll (pins sold separately.)

The lemonade is that you, as the ancient Greeks admonished, “Know Thyself”.  Utterly and completely.  You know your strengths and weaknesses.  You develop a self-awareness and a lack of ego-driven motives.  Most of the time.

AGMA prides herself on the lack of an overblown ego.  Is that an oxymoron?  She pities those who are motivated to only make love to their own ego.  So much terrible damage happens to individuals when egos run amuck.  And to families and communities.  And to nations and the world.

That’s why, today, I’m deeply ashamed.  I’m not as self-actualized as I non-humbly, pridefully thought.  My ego reared it’s ugly head.  It got the best of me when I wasn’t looking.  Or maybe I saw it and just looked the other way.

I got a running injury in March.  I was trying to get a good qualifying time for this year’s Peachtree Road Race.  The PRR happens every year in Altanta, GA on the 4th of July, and is the largest timed 10K race in the world.  The world.  60,000 people.  It’s pretty cool…

Last year, because it was my first Peachtree, I was stuck starting waaaay in the back of the pack.  Like the people who started first were already home, showered and napping when I crossed the start line.  Just a smidge of a bruising to the running ego that I deny exists.

PRR runners need a good qualifying time to be closer to the front of the pack.  I was determined to get that good qualifying time for 2015.

AGMA has now learned – the hard way – that when you’re over 60 and three weeks out of running your very first marathon, running at your top speed at a 10K (6.2 miles) qualifying run isn’t such a great idea.  Duh…  It just seems so obvious to me…now.

Damn that hindsight thing.

Oh – I DID get a great qualifying time.  I ran the fastest for 6.2 miles I’ve ever run.  And in the process, screwed up my calf. Crap.  Even after a five week rest in the Spring, it’s progressively gotten worse as I’ve trained on it.

Bad move to run on it when it kinda hurts and you are limping for the first three miles of every run.  Again, separate out the ego that I deny, and it just seems so glaringly obvious that I should not have been running so hard…now.

The final blow was a 12 mile run on Saturday.  What the hell is wrong with me?  Don’t answer that…  I now have a full blown case of shin splints.  And I’m thinking that I might possibly have a hairline fracture in my tibia.  Perfect.

So, in an incredibly ironic and totally yin-yang twist of ego-maniacal fate, I won’t be able to run The Peachtree on Saturday.  In some weird, twisted way, I find that kinda funny.

You have much yet to learn Grasshopper.

One of the great benefits of getting older is that it gives you perspective.  Lots of perspective.  If this is the worst thing that happens this week or month or year, I’m doing great!  My calf will eventually heal and I will be a wiser runner for it.  Right?  Maybe.

Hope springs eternal…

Happy 4th U.S.A.!

Fuzzy butts as far as the eye could see


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!