Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kind of, But Better

Pardon the lack of posts, but I just ran a marathon.

Well kind of, but better.  Last Saturday night I set my alarm for 4:15 am.  It made me nervous that more than a few people were depending on my timeliness.  Becca and I decided on a whim that we would take our first-time marathoner friends into DC for the Marine Corp Marathon.  I have spectated MCM in the past… two years ago when I was sidelined halfway through the training season due to a very welcomed setback (pregnant with Sage), I went into the city with my sis-in-law, Kate, to spectate her first marathon.  I ran some of the course with her and she told me later that my presence from miles 20-26 was a huge help.

While I believed that I helped her by being there, I didn’t wholly grasp the value of having a pal to get you through the tough marathon miles until Meredith did it for me this past September!  And by some miles, I mean 14 miles, in her case.  Without a doubt, my marathon time would have been a different one without her encouragement.

So when the opportunity presented itself for me to “pay it forward” at MCM I was all about it.  I can thank the four years of Field Hockey, Lacrosse and Track in high school for teaching me about competition, teamwork, and pushing through pain.  I can thank the countless pregame potluck dinners for my love of an awesome post-workout meal.  But it was that one short season of cheerleading in high school that taught me the most useful skills for the weekend;  Feeling not a bit ashahmed to cheer your head off and, more importantly, being able to take yourself out of the spotlight in order to encourage another.

I prayed before the race that Becca and I would be able to navigate DC (on foot) and get from mile marker to mile marker in time to catch every one of our friends.  I prayed that the timing would work out so that I could be there for each runner, and be there in a way that they needed me, exactly when they needed me.  It worked out perfectly… I shared 16 miles race day morning with some amazing, inspiring women.

Becca and I at the start

I got to catch miles 20 to 22 with Dorothy.  I have never run with her in a race before!  I can’t even believe she was pulling out some 7:30 miles at mile 22 of her 18th marathon… what a rock star.  My marathon experience only made me appreciate my friends who have run COUNTLESS marathons and keep signing up for more!

sharing a smile with Dorothy at mile 21

I ran back to mile 20 just in time for Becca to toss me my stuff as she hit the road with our friend (and mother of FOUR!) Audrey who was racing her first marathon.  After a few encouraging words they were on their way to the finish, and finish she did under 4 hours in her first marathon!

I made it back just in time to catch Gwen.  Now Gwen and I have been running together since high school, so we fell right into step.  I never get to see her these days, and I’m only sad that I only got to get her through one mile before I had to head back.  Next time Gwen, I’m staying for more!

A few minutes later and I caught up with Leslie and Andrea.  These ladies trained their butts off ALL summer.  Training for a marathon is so much more than just fitting in long runs.  The running is the easy part, the fun part.  What makes it an accomplishment is keeping every other ball in the air while you do it… wife, mother, employee, friend, sister.  These ladies did it like pros.

It was my honor and privilege to “pay it forward” and run the last 6 miles of the marathon with them.  That cheerleader in me really shined through, and I’m pretty sure at the time, the people around us wanted to punch me in the face for all my encouraging, peppy words.

So here I am a week later and I kind of feel like I’m recovering from a marathon.  I passed out that night by 8 pm and woke up the next morning with a raspy, sore throat.  A cheerleader, through and through!  When all is said and done, it was so rewarding in a totally different way to be the encourager versus the encouraged.  I had the best day out there.  If you get the chance to be that person for someone I suggest you do it… it was almost like I ran a marathon, but even better.

A quick recipe to wrap up… I had a sweet potato left over from my last post, so I put it to good use in this hash.  It’s kind of like the Mexican Hash I’ve posted before, but in my opinion even better.

Sweet Potato Hash

2 sweet potatoes (I only had one left and wished I had more)
1 can of black beans
1 cup of frozen corn
clove or 2 of garlic
1 jalapeno
1 onion
1 lime
2/3 cup water
1 tsp cumin

optional: ground sausage

I decided that I needed to add some turkey sausage to this because my husband would still be looking for dinner after he finished the vegetarian version.  Brown that first then add in onions (alternately, just heat olive oil in a skillet before adding onion)

Add the diced sweet potatoes

Then the jalapeno… slice in half and remove seeds (I left some in there because I like it hotter)

Slice into sticks

Then dice

Add the cumin

The water

And the drained beans

let that all cook together for a while over medium high heat so that the sweet potatoes can soften up a bit.

After about 10 minutes, add the frozen corn

Loving all the colors

Slice a lime and chop some cilantro, and assemble your garnishes on a very fancy Thomas the Train plate for serving



Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal said...

What I loved most about those 2 miles with you is that you new just what to say to me....as I am sure you found the perfect words for others. When I told you I was dying and wanted this to be over - you told me I had a long way to go. I needed to hear this. You reminded me why 18 times I have put myself through the pain of a marathon - you reminded me that I love them [even if I forget that at mile 20]. You also reminded me that I am loved and for that there is no amount of thank you's that will ever be enough. I love you.

Anonymous said...

Great post! It was fun seeing you out there, when I saw you with Dorothy I wasn't sure it was you!!

I really thought I saw Audrey and got some pics of her, but I haven't been able to spot her!

Anonymous said...

I can't begin to express how much you helped me during that one mile...I was at the point where I felt completely alone and starting to feel defeated and you came up next to me with the right words, a faster pace and just the fact that I had a best friend to take my mind off of it all was amazing...thank you so much and i hope to pay it back and pay it forward one day too! thank you for inspiring me to start running at my first race back in reston on that cold, icey day :)

Jessica (Pace of Me) said...

this is so wonderful, karen! what a great way to celebrate the marathon and your friendships with some amazing women! truly inspiring and incredible. LOVE!!!

Rebecca Samson said...

"are you having fun?" such a great way to spend the morning. I would do that over again in a heart beat!!
I want to try your hash. looks yummy!

The Samsons said...

Way to pay it forward!!! I love this post, beautifully written and from the heart. Cheering friends on in the "pain" and pride of a marathon is just one of the most rewarding experiences. Great job :):)
My family is eating a lot of sweet potatoes these days, and since mexican hash is like my single favorite recipe of yours. I want to try this!! :)

The Peters said...

I can't thank you and Becca enough for everything you did that day! I truly appreciate your encouragement and support not only during the marathon, but throughout the entire training process. It's been really great getting to know you better this past year. I love our 5:45am runs!:) Thank you for making my first marathon such a wonderful experience. I really couldn't have done it without you girls!