Things I haven’t told you about from May to October:
1. We live 2.8 miles from the Aldrich Mansion. It’s where Meet Joe Black was filmed. We run past it all the time. The mossy stone wall that encloses the grounds might be the main feature of our Christmas cards this year, which you will receive in the mail in February. If we decide to do Christmas cards.
2. I learned that I can sculpt things out of pretzel dough. We had a Relief Society activity where we learned how to make pretzels. I got bored with the traditional twisty design so my friend Julie suggested I make a giraffe. I did, and it looked really good, until he turned into an amputee because his legs fell off in the baking soda bath (you have to dunk pretzels in a pot of boiling baking soda water before they go in the oven). But the point of this story is that my friend Sophie decided to make something even cooler than an amputated giraffe. She made a cross-eyed owl. She took it to school the next day and it lived in her lunch box for a while and inspired the envy of everyone at her lunch table.
3. I ran The Half Marathon and I didn’t die. It started in June, when Melissa asked if I wanted to run and my head said, “No, thanks, I don’t run anymore and I’ve never run more than 6 miles without having to stop and walk, and are you insane?” but my mouth said, “Sure!” Melissa also recruited Cassie and Lori, the rest of our team. In July, we decided we needed a team name. We narrowed it down to two options: The Dead Rats and Team P.U. Dead rat would have been an appropriate mascot because one of our running trails was always littered with flattened rodent carcasses. And if you’ve ever almost stepped on a dead mouse, you know about the adrenaline rush that propels you to put as much distance between you and said mouse.
We eventually decided on P.U. (pronounced “poo”), which stands for “peristaltic urge.” It would be weird to have casual conversations about bowel movements with your friends—unless they’re in your running group and all of you know what it feels like when the rhythm of running facilitates the insatiable peristaltic urge when you’re still 7.5 miles away from the car that will take you to the nearest toilet. When you run with people all summer, you need things to talk about, and P.U. was our fall back topic.
The fact that we were really about to run 13.1 miles didn’t sink in until we arrived at the starting line and stood around next to 500 people who looked like they knew what they were doing, including: the wheezing, hunch-backed octogenarians; the bare-foot runners; and the Ironman contenders with their camel back hydration contraptions. I was mildly distressed on race day because our longest run was only 10 miles, and I found out a few days after that run that the GPS device we’d used to track our mileage all summer was kind of inaccurate. So what we thought were 9 and 10-mile runs weren’t. But I waited until after the race to make that announcement.
It was a good thing our only goal was to finish. I don’t remember much about the race, except that Dead Rat trail prepared us well. I counted six dead frogs within the first mile and almost stepped on a snake around mile 8. And I remember the Miss Melissa and Miss Lori Fan Club that met their mommies at the finish line. My fan club was stuck in traffic so he didn’t see me cross the finish line, which was fine because I’m not as photogenic after a 13 mile run as the rest of Team P.U.
I’m amazed at how you can talk your body into doing illogical things. Like waking up at 5:00 am and driving all over the state of RI to find places to run when it would be easier to sleep and run down your neighborhood streets alone at a more convenient time. Like thinking you will be able to run 13 miles when, at the beginning of the summer, you can hardly run a mile before feeling ready to pass out. But irrational thoughts aside, by the end of the summer, I realized that this wasn’t about running, but about having friends. It was about not having to do everything by yourself, and about having people to talk to, and about setting a goal and making a genuine effort to accomplish the goal. I would have quit without my poopy friends. Because I run just a little bit faster, I appear to be more disciplined and motivated than I really am. Surprise, I’m not. I needed Team P.U. more than they thought I did.
We sort of stopped running after the half marathon. It’s too cold and dark to get up early to run, and we’re relapsing into hibernation mode. But at least now we are all intimately familiar with each other’s fecal dilemmas, and we know we can run 13 miles, just in case we ever need to again.
|Lucas: "Uh, mom, you run so fast, can we just slow down?!" Penny: "Weee!"|
|Samuel: "I'm in a race! I'm winning!"|
|Our race was called "Run to the Rock," as in, run to Plymouth Rock. I thought the rock would be more exciting. But this is it. Boring.|
|They were building homes for the snails during the post-race party.|
4. Jesse’s parents came to visit. Rhode Island still feels a little disconnected from what we’re familiar with, and I think it’s because we’re so far away from Alaska and California. So when we get visitors, it’s a big deal. We had a great week of lobsters and lighthouses and playing medical-themed hang man with words like enema, diverticulitis, and halitosis. I wasn’t around much because of school and work, but I was able to get away on a Friday and go to Block Island, which is supposed to be The Thing to Do for tourists in Rhode Island. Now we know that if you don’t drink and you don’t enjoy bike riding, there’s no point in going, because that’s about all there is to do there. Do go if you enjoy beautiful scenery in the middle of nowhere.
I’m still waiting for my brain to register that summer was over a long time ago. I miss seeing friends at the beach, family reunions, and the luxury of having time to get up in the morning and talk about how I can’t wait to finish running so I can go home and go to the bathroom.