Older sister: “Kick some bootie, old lady!”
Younger Sister: “I will!!!!!! I’m doing it for all the Golden Girls out there!” (with a slew of my favorite emojis and this lovely gif)
What followed that exchange?
A parade of humor after “ouch! My cheeks hurt” humor text exchanges with two crazy siblings who can always take me back to the joyful moments of childhood. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Our technology party halted when SUPER-WONDERFUL-AWESOME husband reminded me of our departure time for race morning madness! As you know, running a tiny-bit late on race days is a norm in our home.
“Shoot! You’re right! Well, no. Wait. But daylight savings starts at 2. A.M. Soooo… technically, we get extra time, Mr. Stan-ley!” I said with a giant smile. Ok, just one more text and I promise, we’ll get some shut eye!” Poor guy, sometimes, I do pity him for marrying an oddball. But, not that day.
Message sent and word kept. Phone was set away from temptation. Within seconds, dings and dangs sounded off like koo-koo clocks in a clock shop. However, since my phone was on “silence is golden” mode, only two of three Los Angeles county homes engaged in the smartphone laughter party as the clock tick-tocked away into November 5th.
What a fantastic start to November 5th, 2017!
“Awwww… ” Deep, sentimental sigh. And, another. “Awwwww….” Followed by several joyful sighs.
Why did I sigh like readers of heartwarming novels?
Well, my eyes and amygdala were greeted by the ding-dings happening as I attempted to lessen excitement and snooze a few hours before “party like it’s 19…99… Woo-hoo!” commenced. What did those two wild Christmas word-elves send my way to make mind, heart, face, and body smile at 4:05 ante meridiem?! Decades in the making and too mushy to share- a fantastic start to my 40th birthday…!
“I’m Spoiled Rotten!”
Yes, you are, lady!
Exactly what I say often, especially that day. As a beaming runner sprinted downstairs for last minute hydration, nourishment, and caffeination, she was greeted by lovely surprises from her two beauties- husband and son. Yep. I felt like heaps of rotting apples on unvisited orchard grounds. Remember, I’m not much of a material surprises fan (books and running shoes are the exception); therefore, the gems that shined that morning were the kind I LOVE most, the ones that make hearts smile on a continuum, leaving a joyful imprint for retrieval from the ‘ol human brain when in need of whiff of joy.
Spoiling and caffeination complete. Next stop? The road!
On the road, again. Going places that I’ve been. See-ing things that I’ll… see… again, and I can’t wait to get on the road, again…
“Is this really happening?! In Los Angeles?!” screamed their non-verbal puzzled and sleepy expressions. I chimed, too, but mine were audible. On a typical day, a myriad of vehicles zoom, honk, and, if on the 405, 5, or 101 freeways; sounds, smells, and sights of frustration consume Los Angeles County at all hours.
Guess what the scene was like at dusk November 5th, 2017?
Nope. You’re wrong! Aside from tire marks on dewed streets, our headlights could not locate anyone or anything for miles.
Did we cross over in-to… The Twilight Zone?
That’s “The Twilight Zone’s” theme music. A certain someone’s tongue tap danced along her upper front teeth to produce the exact sound heard when viewing the series. Did you hear it? I know. I know. So talented, right? A childhood talent. Don’t worry, no need to say, “kiss your brain!”, lovely teacher readers and friends, I’ve already done it for you. Ha!
No creepy characters or suction gadgets to spoil the fun ahead. “Oh look! There’s another car… Oh, and there, too. Okay, see, now there’s three with ours”, I narrated to two dedicated humans sleepily sharing in a runner’s giddiness at knowing she was going to be ringing in a new decade doing what brings her loads of immense joy.
“I’m singin’ in the rain… I’m singin’ in the rain…”
Not sure how many of you recall a blog post related to Broadway/ Opera/ Shakira-wouldn’t-be-famous-if-I- had-been-born-with-her-chords dreams. In case you want to read about it, click here.
Back to this blog post…
As we entered the mostly empty freeway, Mother Nature sprinkled her magical confetti on our windshield. Like all good weather-stalker-runners, I knew there was a high probability the Malibu Half Marathon was going to immerse runners with the beauty I term: fresh-from-the-source H2O. Therefore, mind and body were prepared to run innnn… the rain…
“There’s a party going on in here… A ce-le-bration…”
“Oooooohhhh, that’s riiiiiight! I was going to sing beautifully to you on my 40th, re-mem-ber, honey?!” I delivered with a gentle caress of my lovey husband’s right arm and excited energy that even I found nauseating at such an early hour. Don’t worry, gag reflex tickles didn’t stop the serenading of their you’re-lucky-we-love-you-otherwise-we-would-be-in-bed-with-ear-plugs-right-now demeanor.
Did I sing beautifully?
No way. In fact, Mr. Stanley kindly encouraged the serenade to happen after the race. What a sweetheart, right? However, I was way too excited to wait. Running on PCH, along favorite beaches, on my 40th birthday, with my top-two-favorite people in the world?! Pure excitement and joy! Whether they were happily supporting my love of running and early morning racing or feigning it, I’ll never know (unless, they spill the beans on a later date). While cozy beds and blankets were still on their minds, they didn’t show it. Naturally, I thanked them by singing “Birthday” by the BEST BAND EVVVVVER (yes! Of course, The Beatles. Everyone knows there is NO other “Best Band Ever”) like nobody was watching or listening. And, believe it or not, those two snoots didn’t fully cringe. Major improvement, right?
Why didn’t I sing beautifully?
Remember, we’re all flawed. But, mostly, I did not work on improving singing as planned. I tried. For a couple of months, I practiced mmmmm…hmmmm… hmmmmmms to open up the chords, along with voice and whole body combination exercises that made my boys glance my way with looks of: oh no, what are you doing now?
Culprit Interfering with Musical Genius?
Life. However, I NEVER quit! I will be 40 many more months, plenty of time to continue improving. Maybe I’ll sing beautifully on birthday #41 or #42? Many positives happened in my personal life this year; therefore, I’m more than okay with not singing like Fancy-Feet-Mr. Kelly on November 5th, 2017. It doesn’t mean I’ll never get there; it means this voice is meant to shine on a different day, month, year, or decade. Don’t worry, that dream will happen.
Back to Running
Oh! Noooo…! Why the backup?
After waiting in a long line to park at bib-pick up, we inten-tion-ally left with more than enough time to drive to Malibu, locate parking, and leisurely absorb the breathtaking beauty of waves crashing in the wee small hours of gorgeous sea… side…, S-outh-ern Caaaal-i-fornia… It was a special treat for my husband, too, a reminder of his hey days of early rising to hit those lovely waves with his boys. Ooooooooo, I had forgotten about his wet suit days… Ooooooo…. Think Keanu Reeves in Point Break with sun kissed locks. I know. I know. Lucky girl, huh? Hahaha
See, I gave him a gift on my birthday. But, really, I was gifting myself. Making others smile, evokes immense joy-HUGE smiles! Plus, the retrieval of memories from his limbic system created a positive racing association . “Wa-la!”, before we know it, he’ll become my racing buddy… Smart thinking, huh? Hahaha! Let me keep on “Ca-li-fornia dreamin’ ” because that will NEVER happen. You all know his favorite running quote:
“No (or nope), I’ll never become a runner. I HATE running!”
-Mr. Snooty Stanley (on the art of running)
But, as you know, life has a tendency to throw those Kershaw style curve balls…
It was a beautiful day…
The sun beat down…
I had the radio on…
I was drivin’
Runners are an AWESOME bunch.
Like Mr. Petty sang, “It was a beautiful day… the sun beat down…”
Pause the music, please.
“Wait. What is going on here…? Oh no! Traffic.” Yes, we are accustomed to traffic on PCH and pretty much anywhere in LA county. However, traffic at 6ish ante meridian can only mean, ” Oh no! It must be an accident”. First thought: Hopefully, everyone involved is safe. After several minutes of not moving, then snail pace, second thought: Hopefully, everyone is OK. More time in idle traffic, clock is approaching 7am race start, and our vehicle is close to the start line. Third thought: Ok, no visible accident. Perhaps, it was cleared? Better yet, fourth thought: Maybe the traffic was just caused by the crazy early rising runners.
Realizing there was no visible accident and race clock was going to start ticking in less than 9 minutes, a confused runner audibly chimes: “Guys. Maybe I should get out here and run to the start line. Yes, that’s what I’m doing!” My super supportive boys agreed. We engaged in quick commentary and behaviors to make you nauseous, but, filled me with internal smiles.
After speed walking along the traffic of Herman Munster moving vehicles, I reach one of few intersections on PCH and hear, “… we better sprint.” We smile, sprint across the about-to-turn-red light and dash through cars waiting to pay for parking. After that quick unspoken runner fist bump, she ran her way, I ran the wrong way. But don’t worry, eventually, I found the half-marathon line.
Oh boy! The end of the line (3:30 plus pace). Nothing wrong with that pace, but a planned 2plus-but-not-3:30-finish was only going to happen if the start happened closer to 2:00.
Hmmmmm. What to do? What to do?
Squeeze through, of course! “Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me.” Those words were spoken like a broken record until runner in front turns back and asks, “Where do you need to be?” “Around 2:12-2:15”, I reply. “Me, too”, she replies with that awesome fellow runner smile. You know what was funny? I sensed someone behind me the entire time I followed Ms. Frontrunner. As soon as I hear, “I’m just following you”, it was clear we had created a mini train of girl power trying to get to the front. “Pacers coming through, pacers coming through…” we hear. “2:20!” we blurt in unison. “Good enough!” Thank goodness for those awesome pacers, we followed them to the front and the rest is history…
Hit it, Mr. Petty!
It was a beautiful day… The sun beat down…
I’m running down a dream…
Initial planned finish time? 2 hours. However, registration happened months prior to pleasant surprises; therefore, it was a little challenging to follow the training schedule. Plan B? Start with 2:15 crowd, ensuring a finish before 2:30. Two hours 17 minutes was my slowest half marathon (2016 Rock ‘n Roll LA). Hence, I refused a slower finish on the first day of being 40. Not when Boston is a dream. On an aside, until writing up this post, I thought the R’n R time was 2:25ish, but something told me to look up the official time. “Ha! Look at that! I was off by a lot in runner’s world. What kind of runner am I?!” Doubtful any other Boston-dreams-runner would make that huge error, right?
Thought process: ok, as long as you stay with the pacers, you’ll be fine. You’ll finish right around your slowest half , but that’s ok.
I felt so good, like anything was possible…
I hit cruise control and rubbed my eyes…
Oh look, I see my beautiful boys. “Hi, guys!” I wave like an elementary school student who just spotted her best friends forever and ever. “Oh good! She’s not wearing her hat.” I hear.
Thinking about hats resulted in loosing track of the pacers. I was ahead of them, way ahead of them. Really?! Ok, this is awesome. Maybe I’ll push myself and see what happens. According to my lovely husband, I don’t push myself during races. Apparently, I finish looking like I have a lot more to give. He thinks I should feel ready to plop at the end of races. Darn him! He’s right, again. Usually, at the end, there is enough energy for more miles. I won’t tell you why I don’t push myself, today. Maybe another time. However, that morning, I decided to run at slightly-uncomfortable-pace. At one point, I was with the under 2:00 group. Oh, wow! I may finish in under 2 hours if I keep it up. Nice!
Did I finish in under 2 hours?
Upon seeing the final time, I gave myself several fist bumps. First, there were hills. You know how I feel about hills. For some reason, I thought the course was 100% flat. I know. Wishful thinking. In fact, the day before, runner brother -in-law #1 asked about hills. “No, there won’t be any hills.” Really? said his confused non-verbal expression. Well, I ran those “unexpected” hills our family drives up and down, weekly, in summer. And guess what? I felt pretty darn strong.
What the heck is that?! A cramp. Not a big one, but enough to make me worry. Oh no. This is what happens when I decide to push myself. Don’t think. Don’t think. Keep running.
Oh look! A water stop.
Glup. Glup. Glup.
Back to running.
Oh good. It’s gone. Doing awesome , lady! Keep it up.
“Ouch!” Oh no, not again. Yep. A cramp, again, only this time, it felt like hammers pounding on my calf. Until that day, I had never experienced running cramps. Other injuries? Definitely! But, not cramps, I would remember that pain. They hurt like a four letter word. Eat some beans (Jelly Belly energy beans), and stop thinking about the pain. It will go away. Keep running. Push yourself, lady! Come on, you can do this!
Hydration station to save the day-again.
Oh good. Alright, stop and drink Gatorade, the electrolytes will help.
Until… just before mile 12.
Have you ever tried walking after sitting criss-cross applesauce?
That’s exactly how I felt the remainder of the course with a few hammers thrown in the mix. If you’ve run a full marathon, you know the majority of the course is mental strength. The last 1.2-1.5 miles were 100% mental strength. No way, girl. You are not stopping. You are not walking. You are going to keep running. You will not hurt yourself. You are fine. If you hurt yourself, you’ll be fine. You have months before the LA Marathon. Puuuuuuuush!!!!!
Screw it! I’m running this. I’m BAD. ASS. I can do this! LET’S GO, Karina!
“And, hit it, again, Mr. Petty!”
I’m running down a dream.
Never would come to me. Looking for a mystery. Going wherever it leads.
Running down a dream.
Ah! I see my boys!
“Oh no. She’s wearing her hat!” I hear. Can you believe them?! They had no idea what I was going through and their concern was my hat?! Yes, I put on the hat at around mile 10, it helped focus on one step at a time because…
The heat was on, on the street
Inside my leg, on every beat
And the beat’s so loud, deep inside…
Caught up in the action I’ve been looking out for you
Tell me can you feel it
Tell me can you feel it
Tell me can you feel it
The heat is on (yeah) the heat is oooon, the heat is on
Burning, burning, burning
It’s on the street, oh-wo-ho, the heat is on
For some reason, as I’m running, the brims cover most of my eyes, making me look “nauseous”, “uncomfortable”, “snooty” or “in pain”. Major pppp…ffff…t to those critics.
If that wasn’t enough to add to my sour look, I hear, “…finish strong!” from the man I love SO much. Except, at that moment, all I thought was: really?! You try it!
That’s exactly what I did. As soon as the finish line was visible, I said, “Screw it! Sprint!” Off went the hat blocking the glorious finish and breathtaking ocean view. “Take it away super speed mode!”, cheered mind and legs.
“Karina Stanley! Ha-llooo, Ms. Stanley!” announced the MC as I sprint across the finish line.
Hello, waves my hand.
I did it! I finished!!!!!
The Stats: My husband’s favorite part of the race…
The clocked read: 2:09; however, I started with the 2:20 crowd.
Official finish? 2:04. A personal record for me. I pushed myself. Thank you, Mr. Stanley for ALWAYS believing in me. But most important, way to go, lady! Love, determination, and self-confidence lead you to that finish.
“Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Who’s awesome? Who’s awesome?” “Me.” I asked and answered with a groooooooovy bob of the head and happy dance. No. Uh-uh. NOT arrogant. Confident. HUGE difference. Believing in your abilities and working towards your goals and dreams can NEVER be anything, but raw awesomeness…
When I realized I was 40?
“… that’s right, you’re in the 40-44 group, now… Ha! You’re in the old lady category.” said that lovely under 40 husband in a playful-teasing-laughing manner when looking for my name in the official race results. Don’t worry, he majorly redeemed himself with the commentary that followed.
Wha-t-ever. I don’t care that a licence shows me as a 40-year-old because I still feel vibrant. Actually, I feel mentally and physically stronger than all previous years. Ok, fine, I was physically stronger in adolescence, but the mental and physical strength is equally powerful at 40. Hopefully, with continual running and learning, I will feel just as strong and confident when turning 50, 60, 70, and with advancements in science, I’m optimistic the knees, legs and hips will remain in tip-top running shape at 80, 90, and 100.
“I’m running down a dream. Never would come to me…”
So, true, Mr. Petty. Like most people, I have a myriad of dreams. However, they will only become reality with continual dedication and always believing in myself.
“Hey, 40s! I’m SO ready for you! Game on!”
“What dreams will be pursued and made reality this decade…? Huh, 40s?” Stay tuned… Maybe I’ll share some.
Annnnnd… I’m running dow…n dreams…. that will come to me… because I’ll keep chasing them until they’re reached.
Notice the semi-painful-happy-smile? I was dealing with more calf cramping after chasing my son up that giant sand mound. Don’t worry, my incredible pit crew quickly helped. Learn from my mistake, runners: Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! Yes, even if you’re at an unexpected family gathering on race day eve. Otherwise, you, too will be victim of painful leg cramping on race day.
I know, messy hair. It was pulled up in haste. Running and marathons are SO NOT runway shows (that’s a different post), lovely friends. But, please look at the bib#.
Yep. 1977. BEST year for fashion, right? Haha. I know, it was not!
Coincidence or was this the making of an awesome volunteer-runner? Since runners are uber awesome to other runners, I’m going with the latter. Thank you for the birthday gift super thoughtful volunteer! You so know family and friends heard about this coincidence ad nauseam! Your guess is as good as mine. I don’t know why they put up with this koo-koo mind year after year, either.
Epilogue Part 2
Soooooo… All that talk of feeling like a giant pot of awesome sauce and you won’t believe what happened a few weeks later…
Ready for more of this epic saga… Huh, are you?
Unmotivated to run in freezing temperatures and giddiness at knowing NaNoWriMo 2017 finish line was visible, I talked myself out of a run numerous times. Uh-huh, sure did! However, LA Marathon is coming up and the family schedule doesn’t permit much wiggle room for making up long runs.
What did I do?
“Aha! I’m wearing the Malibu Half shirt! Yep. That should do the trick.” It worked. Wearing the shirt was a reminder of the goal achieved and the continual support received from my biggest fan.
The pictures below were sent to let him know the abracadabra spell worked. Zero miles became multiple miles. Love his response when he’s proud of his leading lady…
At the start, weather was cold, intermittent sun and not-super-motivating, but the shirt saved the day! So glad the mind pushed that morning. The internal and external smiles are one of many rewards runners love about running.
Along with internal and external smiles, I experienced drizzle, wind, sun, and all the beauty nature emits with each change in weather. Just look at the difference in both pictures…
Oh, and what do you know! On my way home, the sky was bright blue.
Stopping to snap pictures of the fluctuations in weather turned this “long run” into a fartlek-walk-run-snap-repeat-run. Sometimes that happens and I’m ok with it? Why? Not every day will be “Wahoo! Can’t wait to get out there and pound those roads and trails!” Surprised? If you’re a runner, you’re not. You know we’re human. Some days, we say: “Waaaaa…., I so do not feel like running, today… ” “It’s freezing!” “It’s a scorcher!” I’d rather do this, go there, work on my writing, visit with…, etc. Those are the training days I cherish most.
Getting the mind out the door is an achievement. Apply that thought to any dream or goal and you will discover: tiny victories lead to glorious culminations. Can’t wait to find out when my gloooooorious running culmination will happen…
Obviously, it was another beautiful day… the sun beat down… And, I’m running down dreams…
There you have it, lovely online friends who asked about my birthday… It was my idea of the perfect day. Thank you SO much for your well wishes!
Like all Marvel superhero films, there is always more after the credits have rolled…