Last week my friend Heather and I met up for Thai food and a sold out, weeknight concert. Now that I’m a mom, it always seems like a decadent treat to get to go out on a weeknight and stay up way past my normal bedtime. And, yes…I pay for it when I am running on 5 hours of sleep the next day, but it’s still completely worth it.
We drove downtown, procured parking across the street from the Ogden theater in what I like to call the “old people lot” (because it’s close and expensive and the young kids never park there), giddily showed our IDs at the door, and went inside to get some drinks. We’d lingered too long at dinner, and the place was already packed. With vodka drinks in hand, we walked around for a while trying to determine the best place to insinuate ourselves to see The Decemberists play.
We finally settled at the back of the theater on the raised platform near the bar. Seemed like a logical location for us. When the concert started, the band asked us to introduce ourselves to the people around us. In my 27 years of regular concert attendance, that request was a first. Still, we obliged and met our “neighbors.” The guy standing directly in front of us was named Chase (we renamed him “Chaz”). The guy standing to the left of me was John.
There’s an odd thing about concerts, something I’ve always kind of enjoyed. When you look around, you see tons of people relishing the same music that you do, but despite your similar taste in music (at least in this one band) you might never socialize with them if you met them outside the concert. There is often an interesting mix of people, not all of whom look exactly like you. It makes for great people watching, and it serves as a good reminder that despite our differences we can usually find something in common with someone if we try hard enough.
Well, as the concert progressed, Heather and I noticed that someone nearby must have enjoyed a hearty meal of Mexican food before showing up to the concert. Yes. That’s right. There was a gaseous odor seeping from someone near us. Was it John? Was it Chaz? We couldn’t be sure. Whoever it was, though, certainly was in some fair amount of intestinal distress.
Must admit that Heather and I were acting a bit childishly (I blame it on the vodka). We giggled, made obnoxious remarks, and tried desperately to determine the source. We joked about finding the perpetrator and offering him (or possibly her) a cork, but in a concert environment it’s nearly impossible to locate the source of flatulence; it’s just too loud and too crowded. Besides, even if we were able to pass along a cork, the person was standing so nearby and sharing such foulness that one of us would probably just have our eye put out when a gaseous eruption forced it to launch from the offending orifice.
So, our new friend’s scent wafted around our noses the entire show, a constant reminder that we’re all human (although some of us try a bit harder to disguise that fact in public). As bad as it was that Mr. Farty Pants couldn’t keep his odiferous problem under tighter containment, it probably wasn’t much better that Heather and I were carrying on about it like fourth graders. I guess sometimes, though, it’s just better to let loose, as our fellow concert-goer was doing. Why keep it bottled up?
Sometimes the best way to deal with something unpleasant is just to have a good laugh about it. And, acting your shoe size and not your age truly is cathartic once in a while. Parents don’t need to act maturely all the time. Occasionally and in the right company, sometimes it’s fun to enjoy a cackle or two about bodily functions. I like to prove my mettle with my boys by letting out a good belch or two at home occasionally. I’m just keeping it real and letting them know I can run with the big dogs, right? Is it decent and decorous behavior? Probably not. But, I like to imagine that I’m teaching them that even when you’re a grown up, you still have a bit of kid in you.
(This post was written by my pal, Heather M., about her first half-marathon experience.)
My story begins with a treadmill. I was so excited about my new-to-me treadmill that I decided to run a mile on it as often as I could find the time. For me, a mile was a big accomplishment. For years I had let myself believe that I was perfectly in shape; it was just my asthma that kept me from running long distances. After all, everything went black after running a mile with my junior high track team (I preferred the hurdles). How could I ever be a “runner”? But, I got used to one mile and slowly increased my distance. I was so amazed and proud when my 1 mile on the treadmill became 3.1! It hadn’t taken that long to get there, and 3.1 was a 5K. A 5K! People get those tacky t-shirts for running a 5k! I was so proud I jumped off the treadmill dripping with sweat and called my dad for the usual “Way to go!”
My friend Meghan got wind of my jogging and told me of a half marathon that she thought we should sign up for. My response was “HA! Yeah, right! I could never do that.” Was she aware that a half marathon was 13.1 miles? That was 10 miles more than I was currently pushing myself to do. Was she nuts? One perfect afternoon in late summer, Meghan took me for a run outside. Running outside with no TV, no fan strategically placed to keep me cool, no bathroom close at hand for…you know…was new to me. But to my surprise, our run in beautiful Waterton Canyon was so enjoyable. We saw wildlife, joggers, and bikers, and even chatted as we ran. I was more than surprised when we came to the end of our run and Meghan told me we’d gone 5.5 miles. She also couldn’t resist slipping in the fact that 5.5 was more than 1/3 of a half marathon.
After my longtime, childhood friend, Katie, who is just as wimpy as I am, said she wanted to challenge herself with a race, I finally gave in and told Meghan that, while I wasn’t promising anything, I’d sign up for “the half” and begin training with her. We followed a running program for novices and before I knew it 5 miles became 6, 6 became 8, 8 became 10, and then the weekend before the big day I ran 12 miles. I could hardly believe it; if my knees and feet hadn’t been so sore, I would have thought I dreamt it!
Race day (and I use the term “race” very loosely) finally came. Meghan, Katie, and I were up before the sun, and by noon that day we had all accomplished running our first half marathon. For me, it wasn’t as magical as I had hoped thanks to a very painful ear infection and “the curse,” which out of 30 days in a month decided to hit me on race day (of course). But I did it. I finished those 13.1 miles that I never thought I could. And I did it all at the ripe age of 34. I was such a wimp in junior high!
Because I am borderline insane (oh…all right…I’m downright certifiable), I signed up to do this run on August 20th at the Copper Mountain Resort. Why? Would you believe me if I said I did it because I thought it looked like fun? I mean, what part of running 3.27 miles (including up a ski mountain) and attempting to overcome 11 ridiculous obstacles along the way doesn’t sound like fun, right? Now, if you overlook the part about my hating to run and not being a “runner” per se and if you get beyond the idea that this race will be done at a starting elevation at 9700 feet, it’s plausible that I could possibly complete this race. I’m relatively fit or at least I should be by August 20th. And, I like challenges, especially ones that involve costumes. How could I pass up a chance to dress up and run with friends through the beautiful Colorado scenery? If nothing else, running this race should garner me some shopping time because I’m going to need new running shoes and probably shorts too.
But, this is no slacker race. You are microchipped to record your time in the event. There are start waves. There are age groups for the competition. The obstacles (aside from the obvious elevation handicap) include running through a stream before climbing over giant hay bales, traversing through tunnels, speed stepping through tires, crawling under barbed wire through mud, and then finally leaping over flames. This race is not like anything I’ve ever done before. Again, I enlisted some friends to do this with me because, seriously, why would you do this alone? There are so many things about this race that are new to me that I’ll be knocking off a whole ton of items from my life to-do list at one time.
The piece de resistance is that as part of the race entry fee I get not only a t-shirt but (get this) a furry warrior HAT with horns and everything and a ticket for free beer after the race. How could I pass that up?
There are tons of locations for this event, 24 if you count the dash they do in Australia, so if this sounds intriguing you should check it out. You might get wet and muddy. You could finish with a scrape or a bruise or some singed arm hair. You could come in last place. At the very least, you will be physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the day. When it’s all said and done, however, you’ll have a great story to tell the grandkids when you pop on that replica of the Flintstone’s Water Buffalo Lodge helmet and recount the time you crawled through mud and jumped over fire just for bragging rights and a free beer.
Happy New Year! How did you spend the first day of 2011? Taking down the Christmas tree? Nursing a hangover from New Year’s Eve? My first adventure of 2011 was doing a polar plunge. I know it’s insane. I hate to be cold. Hate it. There are insufficient words to describe how much I hate being cold. Yet, every year I’d see the footage of some nearly naked nutballs jumping into an icy cold lake and emerging looking unbelievably happy and I’d think to myself “I really have to try that someday.” Well, someday was the first day of January 2011.
I had no intention of going through this experience alone. If I was going to freeze, I was taking someone down with me. Luckily, I have some friends who are as crazy as I am and when I suggested a polar plunge they didn’t just tell me to go jump in a lake, but they agreed to join me. My dear pal Heather even suggested we dress in costume, creating for us Baywatch Babe ensembles to make it just a little more fun to run on a winter beach. In our small group we headed to Boulder Reservoir around 11 a.m. The temperature gauge on the car read an appalling 11 degrees when we arrived and noticed (with disdain) a brisk wind blowing the fresh snow around. As we approached the check-in for the event two college-age guys were leaving, still conspicuously dry, discussing what they would tell everyone about the adventure they had just decided against. I started to fear that those guys had more sense than I did.
Still, we checked in and got in line, event t-shirts in hand, and braved the cold. I had hot chocolate spiked with a bit of Captain Morgan’s to help warm me to the idea of running into a lake where a chunk of ice had been cut away for easy access. The line moved slowly, and we watched the folks in front of us run in with warrior yelps and run out screaming and swearing. We began disrobing bit by bit to try to acclimate to the frigid temps. By the time we hit the front of the line, barefoot and in nothing but swim suits, we reasoned that the water would certainly feel warmer by comparison, right?
When the event monitor gave us the go ahead, we ran down the sand into the 34 degree water. Surprisingly, it wasn’t nearly as painful as I had anticipated. Perspective is everything. Our total time in the water was recorded at only 19 seconds, and it felt that short. But, the trek up the beach to the hot tub seemed to take ages as I shivered and walked on feet I could not feel. I wondered how long it takes before frostbite takes hold. I had seen the emergency vehicles and I knew that if I didn’t get into the hot tub soon I might be riding in one. For a split second, though, I thought that at least that ambulance ride to the hospital would be warm.
Yet, I survived the long trek to the hot tub. I briefly soaked until I felt burning in my toes and realized sensation was coming back to them, got into dry clothes, trudged back to the car, and cranked the heat to 80 degrees. On an adrenaline high and not ready for it to end, we went with our friends for margaritas and Mexican food at the Morrison Inn to beat away the last of the chill.
After we got home, I looked at the photos our friends had captured. Sure enough, in one of them I am emerging from the frozen lake with a huge smile on my face. And, even days later, I smile when I think about it not just because it’s over but because for a few minutes there I remembered what it feels like to be truly alive and not just living. All in all, that’s not a bad reminder at the beginning of a new year. In fact, I might just do it again in 2012.