Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Grand Finale

My final race of 2013 took me to Savannah, Georgia for the Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon. My friend Traci and I flew to Atlanta and stayed with my sister, Maryanne.  Traci and Maryanne have been friends for years and we were all excited for a girl's weekend!

On the plane, Traci and I sat with my friend, Ellen, who I hadn't seen in ages. We flapped our jaws about horses and running, our favorite things. Funny how you never know who you'll run into when you're traveling!

Traci and I had a three hour layover in Denver, so what did we do to pass time?  Thirteen minutes of planking! (We went upstairs to a corner of the mezzanine where there was minimal foot traffic and witnesses.)

After a night in Atlanta at Maryanne's house and an interesting trip to the grocery store ("Maryanne are you buying a squirrel?"), we took a three hour road trip to Savannah. 

Our hotel was amazing, but the race packet pick up was not. They had lost Traci's number and she had to be issued another one, causing her race day tracking not to work (which she found out after the fact). 

Just for the experience, we ate at Paula Deen's restaurant which wasn't anything to brag about. Plus, there is nothing quite like gambling on eating fried food the day before a race....

Race morning came fast and it was cold, dark, and crack-of-dawn early (insert jet lag here).  We stopped for a quick photo op on our way to the gear check and porta-potties. 

We were gifted with a corral 6 start, my best yet, but that joy came and went as we were still standing in the porta-potty line when the race started. So much for our prime starting group!  By the time we got to the start they were on corral 10. We quickly gave each other hugs and well wishes and off we went. This was Traci's first half and my sister's second!

In my rush to the starting line, I made a rookie mistake and forgot to double tie my shoelaces. By mile 1, my laces were flapping and I had to stop to tie them. Seriously? I know better!

It was a beautiful course with SO much history surrounding us.  We ran through a full spectrum of neighborhoods and everyone was very friendly.  Downtown the trees draped over us creating a tunnel for the sea of runners. Neighborhoods rallied together to cheer and the funniest sign I saw read: "You're running better than our government!" 

Savannah was a magical race with all of us getting personal records! Traci ran a 2:15, I ran a 2:20, and Maryanne beat her last half marathon time by 14 minutes! 

On our road trip back to Atlanta, we took a detour to the beach. It was the first time I'd been to the Atlantic Ocean.

I could have stayed there for days, but the Coach outlet mall was calling Traci's name. Well, that was what I thought until I was the one who bought so much stuff I had to buy a second suitcase just to get it all home! ("If you're looking for me I'll be in timeout in the car.")

Great trip, beautiful location, friendly race, and memories with my sister that will last a lifetime!

May 2014 bring you all the joys that comes from a balanced life and putting family first!


Monday, December 30, 2013

The Reality of a Mother Runner

Running doesn't come easy for me. I envy those who decide to go for a run and then just go; no additional planning, thought, or guilt associated with their choice.  I'm a mom first and runner second. Being a Mother Runner requires A LOT of time and planning. I'm not complaining, just acknowledging the behind-the-scenes actions of active moms (and dads too!). So, round two of a fun girls' marathon relay weekend looked like this:

1.  Leave my house at 11:30 a.m., pick up a friend who is running on my team, and drive 2.5 hours to Richland, WA.

2. Have a fun road trip to Richland.  

Wait, stop the press, it's not so easy in my world (insert more stops and time). 

Here was the reality of that weekend for me (like many other Mother or Father Runners):

1.  Leave my house at 11:30 a.m. with my two boys and all our luggage and pick up my friend who is running on my team.

2.  Take my older son to his soccer game and play cheerleader from the sideline (while keeping his little brother entertained and out of the game, trying to carry on a conversation with my friend, and then looking really excited and engaged when my son looks at me after making a great game play or goal).

3.  Take my son to his end of the season soccer party (with his little brother and my friend along for the entertaining ride).

4.  Drive everyone an hour and a half to my in-laws house where I drop off the boys to stay the night (they LOVE IT at Papa and Grammy's house! Who doesn't?).

5.  Have a fun road trip to Richland, WA. with my friend.

6. Arrive in Richland in time to meet our other two relay teammates and eat dinner at 8:00 p.m. A two and a half hour drive had turned into an eight and a half hour adventure. No wonder we were hungry!

7. Go to the hotel (oh, I mean sketchy motel) and get ready for race morning. (Laying out our race clothes consisted of covering the surface before putting your clothes on it.) The race started and ended in the motel parking lot so it was worth it for the location!

8.  Get up the next morning and run...no, wait I'm third leg so I have no rush! Sweet! So, Traci (second leg) and I headed to Starbucks for coffee and oatmeal. Life is good when Traci has her coffee.

Turtle Girl was first leg again and we all gathered for a photo before the race started. Our friend Tammy joined us in the picture as she was running the whole marathon...her own one woman team! 

It was another FREEZING cold morning.  After the race started, Traci, Janine and I drove to the first transition point. It felt like a timed scavenger hunt; follow a paper map in an unfamiliar city to a set location before your runner gets there. Similar to the last race, we hovered in the warm car until the last possible moment to get out for the transition. Turtle Girl arrived and Traci ran off into the sunrise.

We piled in the car and continued on our scavenger hunt to find the second transition, then the wind and rain hit. Oh man. Cold, wet, and windy. Lovely.

Traci smoked her run (something about those second leg runners!) and then I was off. My first mile was fast because I was FREEZING! Then, as my body warmed up, my pace leveled out. I felt solid and was inspired by a family we'd been watching pass through each transition. The mother was running the full marathon herself and her family members were running as a relay team encouraging and pacing her, then transitioning to a new family member at each transition. Awesome!

I sprinted in to my transition and Janine took off as our closer. She is one of our "fun sized friends" who despite her small stature can turn on her jets and blaze past you. She blew all of our times out of the water and finished the marathon sprinting in faster than any of us can run. Our final team time was 4:15! 

Back to the motel room we go to shower, change, and warm-up, then we all say goodbye and head out. Turtle Girl and Janine drive straight home, while Traci is along for the long ride home via the in-laws to pick up my boys, play in the leaves, chat, then finally getting home in time to make dinner and get ready for work the next morning. A two and a half hour drive turned into a five hour drive for this mother runner. Par for the course.

Where does the time go? The weekend was over and it was already time to start thinking about the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Half-Marathon. My last race of the year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Comfort Zone

Call me crazy. In October, I stepped out of my comfort zone and ran two marathons, two weeks apart from each other! Well, l need to be honest...they were both marathon relays.

By random chance, I ventured into the team sport arena of running.  (Rewind to August) Here's the scenario:
I'm bored of running, but know I need to keep moving if I want to maintain the physical gains I've made. So, reluctantly, I log into my Active.com account and begin signing up for the Spokane Marathon 10K in October.  As I'm about to confirm my registration, I'm interrupted by a phone call.  It's Turtle Girl and she needs one more person for her Spokane Marathon relay team. Seriously!? The same race, the same distance, the same registration website I'm on, but more fun than running a 10K alone...I'm in! And so, with that, my relay team adventures began.

I'm a princess runner. I hate being cold, running in the rain, snow, wind, or running up hills. Yeah, I know...suck it up and go.  Running in the Northwest guarantees I'll need to buck up and deal with all the above.

Spokane Marathon Race morning it was 30 degrees. I had the final leg of our relay which included Doomsday hill. I was nervous because I was the "closer" for a team where I'd never before run with two of my teammates. As a matter of fact, I'd only met them briefly the day before and I knew I wouldn't be able to pick them out of a crowd. I felt pressure to "perform" (from myself) and it was hard to go through my normal race morning routine knowing I would still have to wait at least another three hours to run (after the race begins). Odd. I don't know how to do that, but I was about to learn.

Ready, set, go...Turtle Girl was off.  Our team drives to the first transition point and waits in the warm car for her arrival.  Turtle Girl arrives, Beth takes off, and we head to the next transition and wait. Beth smokes her leg and Andrea is off before she knows it. We go to the final transition point and wait some more. Andrea rounds the bend and I take off. It feels good to finally run. I've been waiting for this since I woke up, six hours ago! I make it up Doomsday hill and power through my leg passing two other relay teams along the way. It feels good. Rarely am I the passer, usually just the passee (I may have made that word up).

Race over, group finisher photo taken, and final relay time of 4:30.  What a relief and blast! Would I ever do it again? Definitely, two weeks later....

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The "Two Week Rule"

I’m naked and vulnerable.  Or, at least I feel that way.  For the first time in five years, I have no training plan, no trainer, no race I’m registered for, or even have a race that I’m thinking about.  It’s dark more hours than it is light and my mind tells me it really wants me to eat the cookies, donuts, pies, endless empty, worthless calories that surround me at work during the holidays.  So, if I’m not running, what else do I want to do? 
Stay in a fetal position under the covers in my bed.  
Unfortunately, none of which are viable options (although my children would think that it was an awesome game of hide-and-seek).

Smile if you are reading this and have been a “victim” of my convincing ways, and thus, have signed up for a race with me.  Because of that inclination my friends, my sister has devised “the two week rule.”  Let me explain.  My runner’s high after a great race lasts about two weeks.  According to my sister, this is a crucial time to avoid me (including calls, texts, emails, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, etc.) unless you are ready to sign on for another race.  Apparently, I am more convincing during these two post-race weeks than during other times.  Here are a few examples of my “two week rule” of persuasion:  

My sister never wanted to do a half-marathon, nor two.  Yes, twice she has been a victim of my two week rule of persuasion. 

My friends said they could NEVER run that far and didn’t know how I did it.  Now, the superstar couple has matching medals to prove they both can.  Yep, more two week victims.

My cousin never wanted to do a full marathon.  After seven long hours and 16 miles of pouring rain we became “marathoners.”  She swore she’d never run another race with me again.  Yes, you guessed it, I’ve since talked her into running a half-marathon, even while wearing a tiara!

And it gets better.

So far in five years, I’ve run 14 half-marathons in eight states and always talked someone into joining me.  Even if it meant flying all the way across the country.  My largest gaggle of gals was a team of 23 “Sole Sisters” who went to Bellingham, Washington.  Oh the memories!   My longest half-marathon time?  3:25 and I did wearing a sock monkey costume. Perfect.

As I close on the end of my two-week high from running my fastest race to date in Savannah, Georgia (2:20), I’m going to sit in this uncomfortable place of limbo and cherish it.  No place to be.  No pressures to go anywhere.  Only me and the chatter in my brain.  Don't get me wrong, a couple of times I found myself searching for my next destination race.

For those of you who have fallen victim to my unwillingness to back down and take no for an answer:
Thank you for trusting me and taking a chance.
Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone.
Thank you for being willing to see what your mind and body was capable of. 
Thank you for all the amazing memories and friendships made.
I wish you great health, happy days, and amazing memories. 
To many more memories to come…if one of you would just answer my call….

Monday, August 19, 2013

Always Trust Your Instinct

My running has slowed almost to a crawl (slower than my usual snail slow speeds and distances) based on my exhaustion, will to play harder rather than run harder, and my doctor's orders (not that I always do as I'm told). I recently had an alarming test result (everything is fine, I promise) which caused me to reevaluate my running, health, and diet. Takeaway message: trust your gut instinct.

Here's the bottom line good news: I'm healthy. Reading that may cause a "Duh, I could have told you that!" moment, but recently my doctor had me believe otherwise. Blood tests don't lie, right?

I'm not going to bash my doctor ( I really do like and trust him), but I am going to tell you not to be afraid to ask for a second opinion.

Here's the short story and how my blood test results relate to running.  Sit down, buckle in, and know that even my "short stories" can be long:

I became a new patient to my doctor at the end of May and part of his thorough new patient exam included a full work-up of lab tests.

After my lab tests, the days went by and I didn't think much about it. I wasn't worried until the doctor's office called me to come in for a follow up appointment based on the elevated results of my liver enzyme test. (Insert flashback to college drinking days.)

Based on my Complete Metabolic Panel- Fasting, my Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) was high at 68 IU/L and my Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) was high at 86 IU/L (normal range is between 0-50 for both tests). Clearly something was going on but what? My doctor discussed all possible issues that may be causing this elevation including possible Hepatitis C (Insert flashback to college tattoo and body piercing days).

I want to panic! But, I trust my instincts and in my "stay calm" mom-voice I ask, "Are you sure it is not from all my running?" I remind him that my first appointment with him in May was four days after I ran the Windermere (full) Marathon. My blood tests were done 24 hours after I ran the Seattle Half-Marathon in June ( I procrastinated getting my blood test done because it required me to fast), and now I'm sitting in front of him 24 hours after running the Missoula Half-Marathon.

At that moment everything changed. He asked if I was sore from my race and, of course, my answer was "yes!" That is when he sent me for more specific blood tests to determine if the enzyme elevation was specifically from my liver or rather from my muscles. Low and behold, my results were this:

AST 43 IU/L (normal 0-50)
ALT 41 IU/L (normal 0-50)
Creatine Kinase (CK) 337 (normal 37-158).

Bingo! Smarty diagnosis: I ran hard and I'm sore.

So, I'm following doctor's orders of playing more (with my kids because it is summer break) and running less. At least until September when I start training for the Savannah Half-Marathon in November. In the meantime, I may have found a supplement that will help prevent muscle soreness....

I'm so grateful to have my health as so many others are stuggling right now.  Bottom line:  Always trust your gut and keep your faith!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Missoula Half Marathon 7.14.2013

Picture this: It's 3:00 AM on race morning in Missoula, Montana. You are still half asleep and crack the blinds to peek out your motel window. You see a car in the parking lot that looks suspiciously familiar. You put your face up to the window, squinting to try to see the details of car below your second story walkway. BAM! Freddie Kruger jumps up at you and smacks your hotel window! You scream bloody murder and about have a heart attack. Before you have a chance to run, you see Freddie Kruger standing in the window laughing his ass off wearing a pink tutu.

Oh my God! It's not Freddie Kruger, but my cousin Cathy who drove 150 miles then slept in her car just to surprise me and cheer me on at my race! Best surprise ever! This certainly explains why my husband slipped my camera into my gear bag.

I left this note in the motel door when I thought something was up.

My friend Michele who came as my race support was in on the whole thing. Nice work ladies!

Pre-race photos with my cheer squad.

One of the best things about the Missoula Half-Marathon is the 6 AM early start time. You're done before the heat of the day, get back to the hotel while they are still serving continental breakfast, and you don't have to worry about asking for a late check-out time.

Although, it is quite alarming to be sitting in the race starting area and turn on your Garmin to see the time read 3:45 AM. Wait, what!? Oh yeah, my watch doesn't know it is an hour later in Montana, but after only three hours of sleep that doesn't make me feel any better. 4:45 AM is too early to be waiting in the freezing dark with 3499 other people who had the same bright idea.

Our lineup starts with a moment of silence for the victims of Boston then the National Anthem.  A cannon booms and fireworks explode in the air marking the start of the race. I begin my 13th half-marathon as the sun rises hoping it will be my lucky baker's dozen...

Smooth first mile less a stop to tie my shoelace and starting to feel the need to pee. Really? Maybe I can outrun the need to stop; I've done it before. Miles 2-4 feel great, but I still need to pee. Running along side a beautiful flowing river isn't helping.

Somewhere in mile 4, I have my first Michele and Cathy sighting. Who can miss Cathy's outfit and cowbell?

Excited for a Michele and Cathy sighting!
By mile 6 I'm ahead of my goal time, but now my teeth are floating and I'm afraid I'm going to pee myself with every step I take. I give up and stop to get in the porta-potty line. Then I wait, and wait, and do a potty dance, and wait some more; It feels like an eternity!

Doing a potty-dance while the guy behind
me looks like he's about to blow chunks.
Leaving the longest potty break of my life.

Photo opp with Michele after my potty break.

Somewhere between 7-10 minutes later I get back on the road. Now I'm behind my goal time so I pick up the pace to see if I can make up some of the difference. I'm encouraged by more Michele and Cathy drive-bye screams, cowbell ringing, photos, and waves.

Staying positive and pushing through.

By mile 10 fatigue is setting in and I give up on making my race goal. No PR race for me, I just can't make up all the time I lost at the potty stop. Disappointing.

Always have energy to be goofy.

Mile 11 seals my no PR fate with a calf cramp. I stop to stretch it out, then take it easy on my last two miles.  I turn the final corner and sprint the quarter mile to the finish line. 

Heading to the finish line!

Official time: 2:35:32 with another "lucky horse shoe" medal to take home to my son!

All done wearing my bling!

This is a great race and one I highly recommend. Next year we'll see Michele out there and I'll be snapping pictures of her!

Like the end of a movie, I have a few out-take/honorable mention moments from this trip:

Best begging sign:  "Will wrestle mother-in-law for 5 bucks." -Bum on Higgins Street
Most clueless guy:  Motel neighbor hanging out in his room with nothing but briefs on.  (Buddy, the sheer shades don't work when it is dark outside and you have your room lights on.)
Worst smell:  Burning rubber from three cop cars screaming past us.
Biggest shock:  Guy with his pants down in the middle of downtown.
Amazing sight:  A buck and four does swimming across the river.
Amazing sight runner up:  Cow elk eating grass in a pasture.
Quick thinking:  Using your running gear bag as your barf bag. (Wasn't me, I swear!)
Best luck:  Leaving your purse in the car with window down and having it still be there when you returned.
Best moment:  Realizing that Freddie Kruger was not there to kill me, but to cheer me on.

With that race behind me, it is now time to slow down and enjoy the rest of the summer with my family. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon 6.22.13

Anemia sucks.  My mood and energy level feels like I should be in my last trimester of pregnancy, less the excuse of being pregnant.  Increased demand on my body from training has wiped me out.  Back to iron supplements…goody, goody.
Despite my sucky attitude and exhaustion, surprisingly my body keeps performing well for me.  My training appears to be paying off despite myself.

I’ve upgraded from the Snail to the Turtle Division in racing; ran sub 10-minute miles on my recent 5K race (smokin' fast for me), improved my marathon time by over an hour, and beat my last Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll half-marathon time by almost ten minutes!
Speaking of the Seattle RNR half, I need to start with a confession.  I’m burned out.  I’ve been trying for two and a half years to get back into shape and I’m tired and frustrated.  Due to life and illness, my training has been spotty; I haven’t been able to complete a whole training plan.  I’m trying to stay positive and look forward to something…usually that is my upcoming race but not in this case.  Honestly, I didn’t want to run the Seattle RNR (although when I signed up in January I thought I did).  Seeing friends and family was fantastic and getting a medal at the end of a workout was great.  But truth be told, I’m not a fan of running hills, freeway, or tunnels especially when they are all in one race including half a mile uphill to the finish. 

Holy hills, Batman!  Seattle race elevation map. 

The Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon is a great race, but my attitude sucked.  Plus, the start/finish line had a ton of police officers and bomb-squad officers/dogs/trucks which created an eerie feeling.  I felt like a sitting duck and it made me sad for Boston; so much for pre-race excitement.
Based on many things, I knew this wouldn’t be a PR race for me so I made a commitment to instead find inspiration in this race.  Despite the hot day with people getting medical treatment about every other mile (one guy had fallen and was a total bloody mess) here is the inspiration and kindness I experienced:
Kerrie (Mom vs. Marathon) (a fellow mother, runner, blogger, and Facebook friend) picked me up and gave me a ride to the starting line.  Thank you Kerrie, you have NO idea how grateful I am for that!  Click the link above to check out her blog or find her on Facebook Click HERE.

Photo with Kerrie!
Mile 7-8ish honors fallen soldiers.  I have no words to give this experience justice.  I still had tears despite trying to prepare myself knowing it was coming.

Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice for our country. 

I watched a military veteran running with two lower-leg prosthetics cross the finish line.  The crowd’s cheers of support were LOUD and amazing!  
Plane with a "Run Happy" banner.
My friends, Amy and Jon, let me crash at their house plus went out of their way to pick me up after the race.  They took me to see one of my best friends from college then back to my car.  I cannot thank you two enough!

A woman working at the Renton Community Center (where my car was parked) allowed me to use their locker room to clean up and change so I didn’t have to sit in my sweaty ripeness for my 4.5 hour drive home.

Congrats to first-time half-marathoner in our group!

My bling!
I’m determined to flush this negativity out and go into my Missoula race this weekend excited, optimistic, and ready.  I had my personal record run there last year and I'd LOVE for a repeat event.  We'll see....

Sunday, May 19, 2013

26.2 Windermere Marathon

It's a cool 51 degrees, overcast with a breeze.  The heavy clouds are taunting us with a chance of rain.  Easily, three quarters of the runners are standing with me in a port-a-potty line calculating in our heads if we will make it through the line before the race starts.
I make it through with three minutes to spare. Perfect.  And we're off.  Down the road we go.
Stand up straight and breathe.
Keep a slow pace that you can maintain...forever.
Enjoy the experience. 
Smile and thank volunteers you pass them.
The first two miles come and go and then I see my ROCK:  Cathy.  She is there snapping photos and video like the paparazzi.  She briefly runs with me, fueling me with encouragement, and then doubles back to her car.  Mile 3 I spot her again and ask "Do you have Kleenex in your car?" To which she replies, "Yes, but you really need to learn how to do a farmer blow."  
Gross.  Not when Kleenex is an option.
Between miles 3 and 4.
The course loops back down to the park road. I smile and think of my dogs Rhonda and Pepper (both now watching me from heaven) who used to run this "road" with me when it was an alfalfa field in our back yard, literally. I used to live there in an old farm house on 300 acres. Now, the house is gone and the alfalfa field has been transformed into housing developments and this park.   

Between miles 6 and 7.
Seven and a half miles, and two more Cathy sightings later, I leave Liberty Lake and enter the beautiful, but isolated, Centennial trail.  I plug myself into my iPod, turn it on, and crank up the tunes.
 It's just you and me now Pitbull. "Let's get this party started!"
I keep a solid pace for the first 15 miles.  I'm surprised with a few more Cathy sightings at some of the trail heads and then she leaves to go cheer on my son at his soccer game that I’m missing.
Mother of the Year eludes me again.
I hit my first wall at mile 16.  It’s more mental than physical.
I’ve been running for three and a half hours and I still have ten more miles to go including the part of the race I’m dreading: miles 20-24.
Shut up. 
You chose to do this. 
Pick a better song on your IPod.
Mile 18 and I cross Argonne Road.  I walk through the water station taking physical inventory of my body aches.  I’m getting tired, but my body isn’t swearing at me yet.
I’ve run 18 miles and I’m just now leaving the f^@%ing Valley?
I drive this to work every day and it takes me FOREVER in the car.  Now I’m running it!?
"It's worth the wait even so far away...All alone, just the beat inside my soul.  Take me home where my dreams are made of gold.  In the zone, where the beat is uncontrolled. I know what it feels like.  Come on make me feel alive."  (Krewella)

"One foot in front of the other...just keep moving forward."

I hit my second wall at mile 21.  My body is tired.  My hips and lower back hurt.
"...just because it burns doesn't mean you’re going to die..." (Pink)
Just keep moving forward.
Stand up straight and breathe.
It’s okay to walk the hills as long as you run everything else.
I slow down to a walk-jog pattern.  I pass mile 23 and see something that completely energizes me:  Cathy bringing my son to see me run.  DD is in his soccer gear and holding a ribbon he earned, beaming from ear to ear.  I run up and hug him.  Everything stops:  my head talk, my body aches, and my worries about time.   We snap photos, talk about the seven goals he scored in soccer, and then I move on feeling strong because I know he will be waiting for me at the finish line.  They drive past honking, waving, and cheering out the car windows.  Awesome!

With DD in mile 23.

You got this.
Only a little 5K left to go.
The faster you move the sooner you can see him again.
I thank the Police Officers directing traffic for me as cross the road to mile 24.  I know one and we recognize each other.  He gives me a high five and shouts out encouragement as I pass.  I round the next corner and thank the volunteers for being there.
Wow, they were a really excited bunch.
Was that MY name on the sign she was holding?
I look back and recognize one of my awesome high school students holding a sign for me.  I run back, and give her a big hug. (Sorry, I realize now that I was nasty sweaty and that was gross.) 
She has no idea just how much that means to me.
I can’t believe she did that for me!

That is so awesome.

I’m almost home and have run this part of the trail many times.  I know it like the back of my hand.  I’m feeling confident and excited.  I select songs on my IPod that will help me finish strong.  I pass mile 25.
"...This is the moment. Tonight is the night. We'll fight till it's over, so we put our hands up..." (Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis)
I round my last turn and see the finish line.
"...I just want to feel this moment" (Pitbull & Christina)
I see DD and Cathy.  They are waiting for me at the beginning of the finisher chute. The announcer is calling me in by name and then I stop.  I’m ten yards away from crossing the finish line. Out of instinct I run to my son and hug him. He'd always wanted to see me finish a race and now he will.  I grabbed his hand.
 “Run with me.”  
“I can’t go in there.” (My good rule follower.)
“It’s okay.  You can come with me and I’ll hold your hand.”
Then we ran together, holding hands, across the finish line.

Crossing the finish line!

Our finish time?
Perfect.  I wouldn’t change a thing.
Sometimes being one of the last ones pays off in so many other ways.
Right after we finished the race together. 
He is holding the ribbon he earned at his soccer tournament.
My finisher photo!

My rose and bling.