Things I Did Not Know

I didn’t know that 62,000 feet on pavement in the quiet black before dawn would sound like the thunderous march of an oncoming army

That paper cups hitting the ground hundreds at a time could be so loud and leave a river of Gatorade for everyone behind to splash through

That King Street businesses would open at 5:00 AM to hand out extra water to anyone who wanted it

That there would be so many spectators lined up on Kalakaua Avenue at such a crazy hour

I didn’t know how beautiful Diamond Head would look at dawn with a sliver of crescent moon hovering above it

That I would get more than 20 high fives from volunteers on my way up Diamond Head Road and pass a wheelchair racer whizzing down it toward the finish line with an escort of three bikes and a motorcycle

That watching Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich cruise through Kahala on his way to a 2:12:31 finish when I had barely reached mile 9 would inspire rather than frustrate me

That the song stuck in my head for most of the race would be “Up on the rooftop reindeer pause / Out jumps good old Santa Claus”

I didn’t know there would be so many men in tutus or that I would see a Pokemon, a storm trooper and a swan competing not for best time but for best costume

That cheering crowds would decrease knee pain and foreign strangers shouting “Good job!” would elevate my mood and pull focus away from the daunting task ahead

That the race would never thin out and at no time would I be alone or feel lonely

That residents in Kaimuki would stand at the ends of their driveways handing out pretzels and gel packs and encouragement

That so many runners would walk and stop to take touristy pictures of themselves

That at no point would I ever consider quitting even when I passed my house at mile 13

I didn’t know hearing “Jenny I got your number 867-5309” from a seemingly unmanned stereo on Kalanianaole Highway would make me so happy

That passing a blind woman and her guide runner would surge my love receptors and propel me past mile 15 onto Hawaii Kai Drive

That an ice cold sponge could be such an unexpected blessing

I didn’t know there would be so many dogs watching from the sidelines or that the zumba dancers at mile 17 would convince me to keep going strong

I didn’t know I would abandon all my inner demons, never think a negative thought about how slow I was going and run 90% of the race with a huge smile on my face

Or that I wouldn’t struggle until mile 21

I didn’t really know how impossible miles 22-25 would feel

And I had absolutely no idea how satisfying it would be to cross the finish line

I also did not know that, just like giving birth (or so I’ve heard), the pain passes and one single solitary day later I would already be thinking… “Maybe it wasn’t that bad… maybe I could do it again.”

I can’t really say I ran a marathon. My official time was 6:33:56 – as expected I ever-so-slightly jogged and often walked. But I can say I participated in and completed one.

My friend KB asked what was the reason for doing this, what could I walk away with from it? What I came up with out there on the course is that I simply want to have experiences and live an enriched life. I am so incredibly lucky to have so many positive options available to me. I want to be grateful and drink them all in.

Thank you to everyone who helped me accomplish this goal. It took a village and you guys were amazing! I feel fantastic. I am so glad I did it!!



Race Day!

Fear and dread are slowly giving way to excitement and enthusiasm. I picked up my race packet at the convention center this afternoon. I’m number 12,887 out of 31,000 – the largest number of participants this marathon has ever had. I love that my initials are across the top of my bib! It actually stands for Japan Airlines, the race sponsor, which has been a family joke ever since I can remember. (For those who don’t know the deliciously cheesy story: my parents, sister and I all share the same initials – J.A.L.)


My friend T said exactly what I needed to hear: By this time tomorrow I’ll be a marathoner!

Holy crap! I’m doing it!

A Lovely November

You may be thinking since you haven’t heard from me in a while that I’ve been really hunkered down training for the marathon and click clack typing away at my NaNoWriMo manuscript just like I said I would be. I would love you for thinking so highly of me, but no… I’ve basically been hibernating.

I didn’t type a single word for National Novel Writing Month. Gave up on that before I even started. And I’ve lost almost all desire to run. The marathon looms a short distance away (only 4 more days!) and I snuggle deeper into my blankets every time I think about it. It is providing me with dread, not so profound that I’m not going to do it, but enough to make me want to stay comfortable and sedentary until the moment of action. You see it’s not that I think the marathon is going to hurt. It’s that I know without any sort of doubt that it will be exceptionally painful.

Winter is setting in. I know, I know, but it’s all relative even when one lives so close to the equator. The days are shorter, the temperature a little lower and the rains are kicking in at full force. The deep cozy truth is I’ve been thrilled beyond words to relax into reading and not doing much of anything.

On the momentous day I won’t be as fit or prepared or trained as I could be. I’m OK with that. In fact I’m going to close my computer now, jump back into my comfy chair and read for the next hour before I have to go to work.

So far I’ve gotten through Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run (4 Stars), Yvon Chouinard’s Let My People Go Surfing (4 stars) and Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma (20 stars, I seriously believe this should be required reading for everyone).

Today I’m diving into The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and a book about the Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei who practice Tendai Buddhism and run 52.5 miles a day for 100 days in a row in an effort to attain enlightenment. (And I’m seriously worried about 26.2?!)

Here’s to my quick jaunt in one of the world’s most popular races (25,000 participants!) and to the quiet solace of winter that will follow!

Hunkerin’ Down!

My sweet friend Diana, who recently killed it in her first 50 mile ultra, innocently asked – Are you following a training plan? I’ve been too embarrassed to respond because the answer is no, not even close. It was her question that made me realize I haven’t been taking this seriously. Sure I’ve been writing about it for almost a year, musing about what it would mean for me, taking a jog every now and then. But no, I have most definitely not been approaching this from the standpoint of an actual runner who actually wants to run.

It didn’t take much research to discover Hal Higdon, who appears to be the grandfather of marathon running. Considering he’s run 111 of them, and even won a few, I figure he knows what he’s talking about. So I’m diving into the second half of his 18-week Novice 1 Training Program. Obviously I should have started this 11 weeks ago, but whatever, I’m an idiot, I got distracted by mental bullshit, I am where I am and this is what I can do so I’m going to do it.

Here it is, as you can see I’ll pretty much be running at least a half marathon every weekend until the race on December 9th, yikes!

As for the knees, Diana also mentioned IT band straps. I found them at the running store and actually got a patella knee band as well. They wrap around your leg either above or below your knee depending on the specific pain you feel. I have a foam roller sitting in the corner of my living room just waiting to be used on my IT band – it’s the perfect example of just how stuck in my head I tend to get. I got the roller in 2010 when I finally had health insurance and started seeing a PT and a chiropractor for my 2009 back/hip injury. Knowing full well how important it is for me to use it regularly I found room in my suitcase to move it all the way to Hawaii! And yet… it just sits there in the corner getting dusty.

I can continue to waste time and make myself crazy or I can hunker down and take this seriously. I’m ready to stop thinking and start working. Wish me luck!

Bye Bye Love

I’ve decided it best to get my head out of my ass, which is where it generally resides when an interesting man walks onto the scene. In the perennial wisdom of the oh-so-sage Sex and the City creators, the SC is just not that into me. So I’m walking away, head held high, genuinely thankful to have spent any time with him at all.

And with that, focus is restored to three important areas of my life: work, running, writing.

Work has been on an upswing. That is to say I’m hating it much less and even finding moments of comfort and joy. My new boss is wonderful and even though I freaked out (tears!) the last time my regional manager came to town, she returned last week with my divisional manager and the national director of coffee, all of whom took the time to tell me I’m doing such a great job they want to figure out how to make me happy and help me stay and grow. They even came prepared with a dangling carrot – the company is announcing plans to start opening juice bars (Seattle 2013 what! what!).

So I started thinking – why do I expend so much energy trying to hang out with people who aren’t committed to me while simultaneously pushing away the ones who are? My managers saw me at my worst and came back to say, “It’s all good, we think you’re worth the fuss.” Assistant managing a coffee bar is not the most exciting job, however a long-term career with a Fortune 500/Forbes Best Company that could turn into something I’m totally passionate about… when my head is clear I recognize that as a great way to make good money while pursuing my bigger dreams.

I used to think my job was supposed to mirror my dreams, and in truth it used to do just that. Those days are over though and I’m starting to accept that there’s another way.

As for running, I felt completely lame after posting my admission that I’m absolutely dreading making any attempt to actually run the marathon. It’s seven weeks out and I’m officially committing to taking it seriously and training – like for reals – starting Tuesday.

As for writing, November marks my favorite month for getting stuff done so in between training and working I’m going to participate in National Novel Writing Month again. It’s the geekiest bestest thing ever and I can’t wait!

I’m filling my plate close to overflowing. Hopefully it will distract me from the fact that the captain has basically disappeared without a word and I’ll probably never hear from him again, just like every other guy I’ve met over the past few years.

For now it’s just me and I will be enough, if not more.

13.1 miles, Not Dead

I did not trip on a cow and I did not finish last. Ah but therein lies the win: I finished. Considering I ran the 10K (6.2 miles) back in March in just over an hour, it’s pretty miserable that it took me 3 hours to run twice as far (2:59:36 to be exact). My knees just couldn’t do it any faster and the truth is I was limping for a very good portion of it.

Just like on my 15 mile training run around Diamond Head a few weeks back, there was a point where my knees started hurting and it got worse and worse. The Gunstock course had a lot of hills and when your issues are structural the ups are much easier than the downs. So the fact that the last mile was completely downhill did not do me any favors. Coming down on my knees that far in was killing me.

It was frustrating because otherwise I felt fantastic. My breathing was steady and I never felt overheated or tired. My energy was great, my mood stellar. The scenery out there on the ranch was breathtaking and we kept running by horses, goats, even a stray donkey who was very confused about what the heck we were all doing in his backyard. My muscles got me through without so much as a peep of complaint. It was just my knees which I factor back to my busted hip and the simple fact that the structure of my body has been “off” ever since I hurt my back and fell off my bike in 2009.

I’ll be honest, I was a little sad not to have anyone to greet me at the finish line, but the emails, text messages and 26 FB friends cheering me on more than made up for that (along with one very enthusiastic friend who believed in me so much he thought I ran a full marathon in 3 hours!). I love you all so much. You make it a lot easier for me to handle being single. THANK YOU!

To continue with the honesty, what got me through that last mile was telling myself over and over it’s OK if I don’t want to do the full marathon. I’ve paid the entry fee and I’d like to participate, but there is no way I’ll be attempting to actually run it. I’m thinking I’ll run a mile/walk a mile/run a mile/walk two miles…

I love the energy of race participants, the camaraderie, how everyone involved is both competitor and cheerleader. Runners are super positive people and I intend to continue this running journey – I’m just gonna keep it to shorter distances and focus on improving my 5 and 10K times. Then I’ll volunteer for the longer ones so I can play the part of cheerleader too.

The Gunstock Half

Tomorrow morning I’m attempting my first half marathon. 13.1 miles through a working ranch at the base of the Ko’olau mountains far up the windward coast in Laie. My goal is simple: cross the finish line. I’ll be unbelievably psyched if I can run the whole thing, but I’m not gonna push it. I don’t have much experience on trails so it’ll be much more important to not trip on a root and fall on my face and stuff. Maybe I’ll get lucky and land on a cow…

Wish me luck!

Gunstock Trails Half Marathon

Gunstock Ranch

Dreaming the Dream

It doesn’t seem to be working out with the sailboat captain.

I’m not sure what happened. We had such a wonderful day together on our last date. Although I suppose it’s not fair to say “we.” I had such a wonderful day with him would be the correct phrasing because I can’t assume he enjoyed himself. For me it was a day of companionship and trust, trying something new and scary, lots of incredible sex and pancakes. Five of my favorite things. I hoped we would do it again and again.

But instead it’s just crickets part… oh my god I have no idea what part I’m on. I’ve lost count of the men who have appeared and subsequently disappeared. And am I really so stupid as to think he would be different?

If we were trapped inside a horrible dating cliché I would say the tides turned when I revealed I’d figured out his birthday and asked him how old he was. Or it was in the car when I asked what the W for his middle name stood for. Or the Indian and Thai restaurants I planned our future dates at.

But I can’t write him off for these trite details because I really do think highly of him. He doesn’t look or sound or act like a walking cliché. I respect him. I admire him. So if it wasn’t the birthday or the middle name or the general fishing/sizing up conversations [which were mutual by the way as I was tested on my politics, religious views and faithfulness among other topics], then it was definitely the voicemail in which I mentioned feeling like I hit the jackpot meeting him and gosh he’s swell so if he happened to be interested in spending more time with me…

I can hear you all rolling your eyes. Oh Jen, really? A voicemail to profess your love in response to his complete lack of response? Did you have to go and ruin a good thing with your impatience? Will you ever chill out and just go with the flow?

Probably not, but here’s the thing: I’m not stupid. I’m just not afraid of being vulnerable. I never have been, nor do I see it as a weakness. I’m afraid of waves and sharks and boats. But I am not afraid being vulnerable. I dive into new relationships with reckless abandon, trusting my own fortitude, just like he dives into the ocean. Whatever the risk, it’s worth the exhilaration.

So yes I’ve been disheartened, but no I do not regret the action I’ve taken. Nor will I apologize for telling someone I admire that I do in fact admire him quite a bit, even if the consequence is scaring him off and ruining a beautiful thing. No regrets. I followed my heart because that’s what I do best. Whatever comes of it I’ll know I did what was right for me.

I fully believe that one day I will meet someone who can handle this facet of me. Not in a desperate “I’m addicted to heroin and can’t stomach the fact that my wife just left me so I’m going to cling to you like a life raft” sort of way (The Ex). Not in an “Oops I’m a sociopath, lying to you about every aspect of my life and I know last week I asked your dad for your hand in marriage but this week I’m breaking up with you” sort of way (The Rebound). Just someone confident enough to say “Yah I think you’re pretty fuckin’ great too.”

It’ll happen. And maybe it’s not too late with the SC. He is a pretty laid back dude after all.

A girl can dream. So dream I will. Because dreaming is so much more fun than sitting around expecting the worst.

Preparation, part un

Woke up before dawn, made a pineapple coconut smoothie, stubbed my toe before even putting my shoes on and jogged/walked 15.5 miles from my house, through Kahala, around Diamond Head and back.

It took three hours and hurt like hell. My toe is purple and maybe a little crooked. My right knee is a bundle of holy fucking ouch. My head is thinking, “What the hell is wrong with you? You can’t possibly run a 26.2 mile marathon in two months!”

But let’s look at the bright side, shall we? I never got winded or overheated. My energy remained high. I’m confident I could have run the entire way if not for the toe/knee debacle. And holy crap I went over 15 miles today!

No one ever said marathon training would be easy.

Happy Girl

Here’s a me I hardly recognize: bikini, rash guard, goggles around my neck in case we see something cool, water shoes on the feet that are walking straight into the ocean. I’m following the rugged and handsome sailboat captain, carrying the backside of an enormous stand up paddle board. I hop on into a kneel as if it’s nothing and he gives me a push into the crystal clear turquoise of the Pacific by Kahala.

The simple phrase he utters fills me with confidence and courage. “Don’t worry, I’ll be right there next to you.”

And just like that there he is, on his own board floating close to me as promised.

We have a plan; gosh I like plans. We’ll paddle around between the beach and the reef where the water is like glass and there are no waves. We’ll stay as long as it takes to get comfortable and only then will we consider anything more daring.

So we paddle in circles, practicing technique. He challenges me in a seemingly benign way. “Just for the heck of it try standing up and paddling into the wind.” And just like that there I am, going far past my comfort zone into the ocean.

A huge manta ray splashes nearby but he knows not to tell me what it is. “Just a little fish!” he shouts instead. Hours pass in the sun and the water. I’m actually getting better and even sort of having fun.

He wants to take the channel out past the first break before the second reef where it gets calm again but deeper. I follow him until the wind picks up and the sea gets choppy. That’s where the fear takes over and the separation begins. Waist deep water this far out yet those little waves get to me.

If I needed to I could jump off the board and stand up, but the psychology of the moment consumes that reality. All I can see is something I can’t control, something to get myself out of. With a shake of my head I’m turned around, paddling as fast as I can back to shore.

And just like that there he is, almost beating me back to the beach. He wants to play in the waves but he stays close to me instead.