I never thought of that being much of a risk with Raj and me. Until we met up at the Charlotte airport, him from San Diego and me from DC, dressed exactly alike.
Oh, the matching USU sweatshirts would have been plenty. (I borrowed Raj's original USU sweatshirt extensively enough that eventually he gave it to me and bought himself a new one. I am expensive.) But that wasn't all. We both had on navy blue t-shirts underneath (both purchased in Hawaii, even), jeans roughly the same color, and brown Reef flip-flops. If we had walked past me, I would have judged us. Harshly. So I had to stifle a perpetual urge to yell "IT WAS AN ACCIDENT" at everyone we passed.
But then I kind of didn't even care so much about that because there was a present for me! Raj asked whether I wanted my present right there in the airport. Which, you know, OF COURSE. They were boarding a flight to Birmingham at our gate, so we sat at the far emptier gate across from ours and opened my gift. It was Godiva chocolates. And THESE:
Diamond and sapphire earrings, friends. I may perhaps have said the words diamond and sapphire a lot recently. The total success of that campaign has me predicting that Raj should expect to hear the words trip to Greece very often in the near future. You can't reward behavior like mine, people, without reinforcing it.
Somewhere in the midst of saying Oooh, sparkly! and similar sentiments, I also pointed out to Raj that our gate appeared to be completely empty. Which was odd, considering our flight to Savannah was supposed to be leaving right then, but the board still said Birmingham. I watched Raj go over and check with the gate agent, so I was able to see the sign switch to Savannah at the very same time the agent was telling Raj that the flight had already boarded and the door was closed. Awesome.
Except it kind of was, because if we'd made that flight, we'd have missed what was for me the most hilarious portion of the trip. Once we got booked onto a new flight and checked in at our new gate, Raj went to get a breakfast burrito. When he came back, he told me how he'd asked for extra sausage, but the woman said he'd have to have it on the side or the burrito would break. Which seemed reasonable, but the burrito was wrapped in foil, so breaking didn't seem like it would be disastrous. Whatever. I didn't see a side of sausage, so I figured he'd decided against it.
He showed me later that the burrito had busted open anyway.
"Good thing you didn't get the extra sausage," I said.
"Not sausage," he said, "SAUCE." He then held up the world's tiniest to-go cup, which was holding perhaps a half a tablespoon of hot sauce. That's what the woman refused to add to his everything-on-it burrito. To preserve the structural integrity of the burrito, it was essential that he not have a couple of teaspoons of hot sauce.
I tried to point out how ridiculous that was, except I couldn't get out more than a word or two in a burst because I could not stop laughing about it. "But...sauce...SAUCE...how could...and she...wouldn't LET you...because...it's TOO FUNNY!" I turned all red and tears streamed down my face, which was tremendous because it drew even more attention to us, the matchy matchy couple. Except only one of us had mascara smeared around my eyes, so that was different.
We made that flight, by the way. And went to Savannah, where we changed into different outfits. After paying for the hotel room first.
That would be Excellent Savannah Quote #1. We first heard it on Friday night when we were downing our beers in preparation for leaving one bar to go to another. But we didn't have to! We could take it as a roadie!
In downtown Savannah, you can take your drink to go as long as it's in a plastic cup. Further, our hotel had a free happy hour for guests with wine and champagne. Generously poured. Very, very generously.
Which explains why I am standing outside in this photo with two keg cups full of champagne.
Oh, Savannah. You're delightful.
And colorful! Internet, I have so many stories. And yes, I intend to drag them out as long as possible. I swear, it'll be worth checking back.
Raj taught me a while back about how you don't actually say "Aye aye, sir" in the Navy. You repeat the order and then say "Aye" only once at the end to show you got it. Having taught me this came back to haunt him when we were in Virginia Beach, just before his departure to San Diego, and the song California Gurls came on.
Me: Don't break your neck trying to sneak a peek at any of those girls. Just go ahead and look. But no falling in love with any girls while you're there.
Me: No falling in love! SAY IT.
Raj: No falling in love, aye.
Me: And no sex on the beach.
Raj: No sex on the beach, aye.
We further decided that probably he should only have popsicles inside the house so they wouldn't get melted. I feel so much better about his trip, having all of this agreed upon beforehand. I don't like to be domineering, but occasionally, a girl's got to put her foot down.
You too can run a half-marathon
No, really. You can.
Unless you have a limiting physical disability, you are perfectly capable of it. I know what many of you are thinking, because a year ago today, I’d have been thinking the same thing. I would have been calling bullshit on me.
Except a month later, I started the Couch to 5K program. I had to work my way up to being able to run for five minutes without stopping to walk. I came into this with no natural athletic ability and a fitness level that would rank in the neighborhood of Very Poor. Also I hated running almost all of the time that I was doing it.
But while I hated actual running, I liked having run. I liked what it was doing for my body, my mood, and my energy level. I liked that, before long, I was up to twenty minutes, then three miles, then three miles a little bit faster every time I ran it. I liked being sore because I’d worked hard.
I give a lot of credit for my transformation into a runner to the Couch to 5K program. It's structured and it's success-oriented. These were things I needed. The first week is made up of intervals of 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking. I needed to start there, succeed, and feel confident about being able to do the next week’s intervals. I needed someone to tell me when to run, how far to run, and for how long.
But there’s a lot more credit to go around. I saw my friends Karin and DC roommate Holly start running, lose weight, and get in shape. In the years I’ve known San Antonio roommate Holly, I saw her transform from a non-athlete like myself into a genuine capital-R Runner, with countless 5K, 10K, trail races and half-marathons under her belt. Nobody could dispute that she is an athlete, and it’s because she made herself one. She got up at 4:45 a few times a week, laced up the shoes, and did the work. Now she’s training for a full marathon.
My friend Katie started running half-marathons. She and Chrystal signed up for the Virginia Beach Half-Marathon. I should do it with them! It would be fun and we’d all go to the beach. It was about four months away. Holly told me I could do it. Raj told me I could do it.
Raj had, in fact, told me in February that I could be running a half-marathon by summer. I told him he was insane. Turns out I could have. (Please note for the purposes of my relationship that I am not admitting here to having been wrong. His sanity, as a general subject, remains in question. After all, he dates me.) Raj has been extremely supportive all this time. I could text Mr. I’ve Run Several Full Marathons “I ran for five minutes!” and he’d respond “Great job!” without a hint of eye rolling. Sometimes during training runs when I really wanted to quit, I’d picture a finish line and him standing on the other side of it to keep me going. The fact that I’ve never told him that makes it all the more extraordinary that, when he found out that he had to fly to San Diego the day of my half-marathon, he arranged his travel so he could come to Virginia Beach and watch me finish before driving back to DC just in time for his flight. He even let me hug him immediately after finishing though, verily I say to you, I was disgusting.
So I was lucky to have a lot of good influences around me. And I finally just made up my mind to do it. The convenient timing of the half-marathon just before my 33rd birthday helped. Fitness would be my gift to me. Though strangely, that hasn’t really sunk in yet. I don’t see myself as being in any better physical shape than usual, though this is clearly the most fit I’ve ever been. It still threw me where, under the signature line on my race form, it said Signature of the Athlete. I kept waiting for someone to come take it away from me while laughing and saying “You’re not an athlete!”
But I was! And I am, I guess. Particularly since not only am I already looking for the next race, I’m getting a little twitchy after not having run all week. I’m actually looking forward to it.
And I’m a person who can follow though on something that takes months of preparation. I didn’t admit to anyone when I signed up for the race that I probably gave myself about a 75% chance of going through with it. Sure, there was a chance I’d hurt myself and not be able to run it, but there also seemed a good chance that I just wouldn’t do all of the necessary training. (Not that I did all of the training, by any stretch. I’d say I did about two-thirds of the training program I used, omitting several mid-week runs and oh, all of the scheduled cross-training.) My training mantra had a lot to do with how mortifying it would be to have to walk the last ten miles of a thirteen mile race. The threat of total humiliation is a powerful motivator indeed.
Fortunately, so is the rush of finishing the race. I want to do another one. I want to do it faster and with less walking. I want to feel just as wrecked, if not more, afterward so I know I didn’t leave anything I had in me on the course. This is a drug and a sickness. It’s the Thank you, sir, may I have another? of things that are actually good for you. It’s awful and I love it.
Plus, you guys. I’m totally starting to get a butt.
13.1 miles, that is. Katie, Chrystal, and I participated in a little jog called the Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon over the weekend. Here we are, just prior to starting the race.
I was hoping to finish around two hours and forty-five minutes. I planned to accomplish that by running twelve minute miles, which would put me at two hours and thirty-six minutes, leaving me some wiggle room for walking. I hoped to only walk through water stations for as long as I could possibly stand it, then walk as little as possible from there on out.
And by golly, Internet, I did exactly that. I came in between eleven and twelve minutes on every mile through nine, only walking through water stations. (Though I did briefly consider stopping at the Medical Aid Station around mile six to ask whether they could treat whatever disorder it was that caused a person to think running thirteen miles was a good idea.) Here I am, around mile nine, still managing to smile for Raj, taking my picture.
Sadly, this good mood did not last into the double digit miles. I was angry with walkers taking up half the road, myself for continuing to think "the more you run, the sooner you're done" despite the horrible little rhyme it created, and a man on the sideline yelling at us to run faster so we could go drink. (Though I very much enjoyed the sign I saw that said "Your feet hurt so much because you're KICKING ASS!") Try as they might to limit obscenity, Virginia Beach had no power over my angry runner inner monologue.
My first gratuitous non-water-station walk break happened when I spotted Katie walking just before the ten mile marker and I stopped to walk with her for a bit. (It should be noted that both Katie and Chrystal beat me in this race.) I let myself walk again while going very uphill onto a bridge a little while later, again somewhere around mile eleven, and roughly the last 100 yards before mile twelve. But by God, I ran that last 1.1, despite every muscle in my body protesting. I even managed to sprint the last ten or twenty yards. Here I am, just after crossing the finish line. I'm below the landing of those stairs there.
Just after that, somebody handed me a bottle of water, which I downed in roughly nine seconds. Then I got a bottle of Cytomax and a banana and, hands down, the best popsicle of my life. The only thing better? THIS MEDAL.
Also, I had a turkey club wrap (with bacon!) and fries because I needed to replenish my salt. And then for dinner I had a salad which also had bacon, and a cheeseburger. I continued to eat for the rest of the weekend like a person who had run well over one hundred miles, rather than thirteen. Probably I should stop that now.
In addition to all of the eating, our post-race activities included lying on the beach, using the Atlantic Ocean as a giant ice bath to help our joints recover, getting sunburned, shopping on the boardwalk, shuffling around while making ouchy sounds, falling asleep before nine, and becoming very angry with the people we saw out running today after having more than likely also run the half-marathon the day before. Show offs.
Coming soon: the post where I wax philosophical about all of this. Coming sooner: applying aloe, shuffling to my room, and cursing myself for buying a low-to-the-ground platform bed. Plus ouchy sounds.