Graduation: It’s kind of a big deal.

Today is my would-be graduation day. Scratch that. Today IS my graduation day. I’m not going to graduation (because it’s too damn expensive and my kids are at their dad’s this weekend anyway) but it is still my graduation day.

College, bitches, I did it!

As of Thursday afternoon when I handed my completed final to the professor and walked out of my last undergraduate class, I have completed my bachelor’s degree. Logistically I may need to check on the status of a form and complete my loan “exit counseling” to actually get the piece of paper but all the real stuff, the classes and course content, that’s done.

I can now say that I’ve got a B.S. in General Biochemistry.

I’m not sure how this changes anything or what it really means for my family and our quality of life but, regardless of what may or may not happen now, I am super fucking proud of myself! I understand that getting my degree is not some magic pass to a better life; I get that nothing changes now unless I work hard to make it change. (I’m a single parent running a one adult household so that’s pretty much the story of my life. The wheels don’t turn themselves, something has to drive them. I get it!) But, still, graduating from college is a big deal. At least for me it is; it’s been a long road and I worked hard for this!

I didn’t realize how I felt about graduating until I was leaving my final on Thursday. All week I was oddly emotional and off kilter. I blamed stress, hormones, and lack of sleep. The usual suspects. But as I walked out of class and down those five flights of stairs I was overwhelmed with a sense of pride, a feeling of accomplishment, and a little bit of that “Oh shit what now” fear. Emotions, strong ones but mostly good.  glass case of emotions

As usual they took me by surprise. Before that point I thought that finishing, graduating, was just kind of…meh. I mean, (hopefully) this isn’t the end of my education and I’m not taking part in all the pomp & circumstance, no cap and gown for this girl, so it’s just a box checked off this list of things I need to do to get to the big thing I want to be doing (Hello Dental School!) I’ve been downplaying this and not even realizing I was doing it; I’ve failed to acknowledge that graduating really is an accomplishment. It’s also a big status change for me. I’m no longer a student. I no longer have to check the “some college” box under educational status.

With finishing my bachelor’s degree I accomplished a long term goal and that is something to celebrate. I worked hard to do this thing and I did it well. So while my eyes are still trained on what’s yet to come and there is no time to take a break if I’m going to do the next hard thing and keep propelling my life forward, I’m going to revel in my accomplishments and be unabashedly proud of myself this weekend.

kind of a big deal


My First Half Marathon Part 2: Success!

So, back to the story of my first half marathon this past Saturday and my apologies for taking so long to get back to it. I meant to finish up and post this the next day but ,well, things happen and life is busy so here we are.

It was a cold and dreary October morning…or something like that.

As the race started my sister turned to me and said “If I start dying around the eighth mile feel free to just leave me behind and keep going.” She had only decided to run this race with me about five weeks earlier and it was her first half too (or anything over 5K really); she hadn’t had as much time to train as she would’ve liked.
“Oh don’t worry, I was planning on it.” I (somewhat) jokingly replied. “I will leave you to die without hesitation. In fact, I had already had that thought.”
A few minutes later I got a text from my son saying he had been picked up and was on the way to his meet. Phew! Giant sigh of relief. Turns out the mom had told me 8:15am for a pick up time but meant 9:15 which actually made more sense. Whatever, as long as he was getting there I didn’t care.

The first four or five miles passed pretty uneventfully. I could tell this wasn’t my best run ever but my borrowed Garmin was regularly informing me that I was keeping the pace I wanted. The goal was to finish in under 2:15. I figured since this was my first half marathon I’d keep my expectations pretty low realistic so as not to be disappointed. Plus it was a morning run, not my favorite. I’d much rather run at 10pm even when it’s cold and dark out than any time before 10am but for some reason most races are scheduled for the wee hours of the morning.
What, just because runners are slightly masochistic and obviously crazy you think we’re all bright eyed, bushy tailed morning people? Not this girl!
It’s a logistics thing, I understand. Whatever.
It doesn’t make me happy about it.
My concern with it being a morning race was threefold. Hydration, caffination, and hunger. See, I have to have my AM dose of caffeine but that contributes to dehydration so I also need time before running to drink plenty of water…but not too much because I don’t want to have to pee mid race. The hunger part is pretty self explanatory.

The course was an out and back shaped like a T.
course map
The first turn at the end of the T was around 4.5 miles and I grabbed a water there but didn’t want to walk quite yet. I lack the coordination to run and drink at the same time even if they did give us actual little bottles of water. It’s a mental thing, I didn’t want to walk at all before the six mile mark. At the same time I was getting pretty thirsty…and hungry…and warm.
Maybe I’d been a little too enthusiastic in my layering that morning.
About half way down the first arm of the T the lead runners were passing us going the opposite direction. There was a lot of pleasant head nods and words of encouragement. Runners are awesome like that and there’s definitely a sense of comradary during a race.
As the runners ahead of us looped around the end of the T my sister suggested we speed up and try to catch them. Ummm, they were not that close to us, probably about an eighth of a mile and maybe more. Plus I was feeling a little draggy and not sure I could push my self that much right then.
“We can’t speed up yet it’s too early.” I told her.
“Let’s just go. They’re not that much faster than us.” she argued.
“It’s too early, we’re not even to the sixth mile. You’ll burn out if you go now. It’s a long race.” I countered.
“Fine, I’m going to go then.”
“NO! I didn’t bring music because you said we were going to run together. I was going to and you said not to.” I replied with mild panic.
“I didn’t say that. I said to not use music right away.”
“That’s not what you said and I didn’t even bring my headphones because YOU said not to. You said we were going to run together.”
This was turning into a right sisterly spat.
“Let’s just get past the six mile mark.” I suggested.
“Fine” she exasperatedly agreed.
At this point we had looped around the end of the T and became the runners heading in the opposite direction. My sister started to laugh and told me she had thought we were in last place, that’s why she had wanted to speed up. I confessed that I had thought we were too and that was the only reason I didn’t want her to leave me.
Turns out there were plenty of people behind us. We were running in the gap between the elite runners and everyone else; we were the bridge.

When we reached the six mile mark I did walk but just long enough to wrangle out of my long sleeve tee that was over my moisture wicking tank and under my short sleeved tech shirt which was all under my rain jacket. I took a drink and debated having some of the granola bar in my pocket but chewing just seemed like it would take too long and my sister was graciously walking with me even though I knew she didn’t want to. Approaching the seventh mile there was an intimidatingly steep hill. I wasn’t too excited about that but then ,as I was lifting my knees to “charge the hill”, I started to feel a little burst of energy.
And so did my sister.
She ran on ahead of me much faster than I felt like going but I was okay with it now. For one, there was no worry of being last and I was starting to really enjoy the run. There were beautiful fall colors, the air was crisp and cool, and there were alpacas. It was pretty scenic. Really the whole course was. Plus my cool watch was telling me I was still on track to meet or exceed my goal.
I was having a pretty good time.

This was actually at my son's meet.

This was actually at my son’s meet.

And then I reached the tenth mile.
If you recall the longest distance I ran in training was 10.5 miles so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was feeling tired but not overwhelmingly so.
Somewhere before the eleven mile mark I started feeling a sharp pain in the arch of my right foot. This was something new and different.
Even though there was less than three miles to go I walked. My foot was aching pretty good now and I was tired. There was a hill that I didn’t remember running when I was at that same spot about an hour and a half earlier. Hills are way more noticeable after eleven miles of running.
When I passed the twelve mile marker I noticed that the Garmin didn’t chime twelve miles until about a minute later. Hmm.
With less than a mile to go I was tired and hungry and my muscles felt like lead; I walked one more time for just a few seconds and an older man (probably in his sixties or seventies) caught up with me. We started running together. “You can run me in.” he said. We chatted for a few minutes about the run. Turns out it was his first half marathon too. I did speed up a little at the very end. There was a nice burst of energy as soon as I saw the finish line.

finish line
My dad and sister who had finished about seven minutes earlier were there to cheer me on (though they weren’t all that enthusiastic due to the cold damp weather and the fact that she had just finished running too).
It was not quite the dramatic finish I had imagined but I was done. I had done it. I ran a half marathon with an official time of 2:07:31.

Apparently I cut some corners somewhere...whatever, it still counts!

Apparently I cut some corners somewhere…whatever, it still counts!

I walked around for about two minutes, drank some water, ate three of the most delicious energy cookies ever then got in my car to hurry off to my son’s last cross country meet.
Even though it was pretty cold out (Did I mention it was cold? Yeah, about 43 degrees tops.) he PR-ed and finally broke 20 minutes. It had been his goal all season.
On the way home my son said to me “Did you know there are these things called ultra marathons where people run like seventy miles in one day? Some day, when I’m older, I’d like to do that.”
Epic parenting success!!!

Smiles of relief once the race was done.

Smiles of relief once the race was done.