Monday, October 28, 2013

Run Like a Girl

Insomnia is a bitch.  Why your brain can be perfectly behaved all day but as soon as you turn out the lights and get snuggled into bed it decides to jump up and start running amok through all your worries, regrets, to-do lists or crappy memories is beyond me.  Dude, I've been up all day and you want to go through all this now?  ShutUpAlready!!

So you try to lull your brain into submission.  I used to imagine I was sitting on a beach, listening to the waves crash on the sand.  Growing up at the Lake of the Ozarks, our house was near the water and I remember sleeping in the summer with the windows open, hearing the water lap against the shore.  It's a comforting sound. 

When that didn't work, I'd try to bore myself.  So I'd imagine I was running.  I hated running in school.  It was pointless to me, running circles on the track, going nowhere, being humiliated by the rest of the class as they breezed by my plodding self.  Then the coach suggested we do relays.  Sure, let's pile on even more embarrassment.  My partners brought knitting or a crossword puzzle while they waited on me to make my way around to them.  At the end of my junior year I burned my gym uniform.

Up until Jessica and Kelli were killed, I was fortunate to only have rare sleepless nights.  That all changed, and I found myself awake in the dark many nights.  My usual tricks weren't working, and I wasn't ready to try sleeping pills.  I had a small child in the house and was too scared something would happen to her and I'd be unconscious, oblivious to the aliens taking her out her window.

One night while my brain was having a dance party, I'd finally had enough.  I got up and started walking around my room, then walking around the house, wandering in the dark.  I needed to move.  I was damn tired of being tired.  Tired of having no control over my life.  I just wanted to run away, leave it all behind and get the hell out of Dodge.  Wait, what?  Run?  Well, why not, nothing else was working. 

Of course I had this brilliant idea in January with snow on the ground.  I started going back to the gym, running on the treadmill while Maddy had swim lessons.  I signed up for Master the Met - a 42-story stair climb - and conquered that mountain.  The physical activity helped with the sleeplessness.  It wasn't a miracle cure but I was starting to feel more rested and less sad.  But I never quite managed to keep going.  Something would happen and I'd slide back into my busy schedule of couch sitting and Cheez-It eating.  My sleep suffered and I'd find myself thinking about running.  I just never did anything about it.

This year things started to turn around.  Thanks to my work with law enforcement, seeing my daughter turning the corner and the fire come back into her eyes, and a little better living through chemicals, I started to turn the corner as well.  A great friend and I decided to start walking a few mornings a week, just to get some exercise and a little grown-up conversation during the day.  Her husband was training for a half marathon he was running in October.  One night, after a glass or two of wine, she decided that we needed to run the 5k.  I think my initial response was "how much wine did you have?"  But the next thing I know, I'm downloading the Couch to 5k app on my phone, buying cute running skirts (come on, it's me!) and off we went.  The free beer at the end might have had some influence over the decision as well.

We started in August, and yesterday we ran The Rock and Roll St. Louis mini-marathon.  3.5 miles in 50 minutes, with no walking.  Was it easy getting to that point?  Not one bit.  Some mornings we greeted each other with smiles and high-fives, and other mornings we secretly hoped the other would say, "screw this, let's buy shoes without laces."  But we kept going, and little by little we extended our run times.  We went from walking five minutes to running twenty minutes.  In.A.Row.  We ran at the butt-crack of dawn, late in the evenings, in the heat, and in the cold and wind.  We did keep some wits about us and made a solemn vow to never run in the rain.  That's just crazy.

Some days we ran without the other, but it was more fun with a partner.  Sometimes I'd find myself lacing up my shoes and hitting the road because I felt like it, not because the app was reminding me.  Occasionally Maddy ran with us, and her daughter did as well.  They ran the 5k with us also.  We all motivated one another.  We showed our daughters we weren't just a couple of crazy ladies with a crazy idea but that we set a goal and accomplished it.  And I slept better, finally.

I'm running a Thanksgiving 5k with Maddy, as long as it doesn't rain.  I'm writing this today with a sore neck, tight calves and wondering where the muscles in my hiney came from, because I'm pretty aware of them today.  I'm also writing this with a feeling of accomplishment, pride and respect for the runners who did 13.1 and 26.2 miles.  Will I get there?  Today I say hahahaha! but I'm not going to say never. Just not today.

My running playlist, if you're wondering:

Feels Like the First Time - Foreigner.  You know, because it was my first run.
Valerie - Amy Winehouse - Just because I love the song.
Fastest Girl in Town - Miranda Lambert.  The irony, because I'm kinda poky.
Subdivisions - Rush.  It has a good steady beat to run to, and it's long.
Supersitition - Stevie Wonder.  It's only weird if it doesn't work.
Owner of a Lonely Heart - Yes.  The beat, the length, and I know all the words.
Play That Funky Music - Wild Cherry.  Just a fun song that makes me smile. 
Little Bird - Annie Lenox.  It reminds me of my daughters.
Shake That Ass - Eminem.  That popped up accidentally but it was a good surprise.
Everlong - Foo Fighters.  The best song to make me push up the hill to the finish line. 
Baker Street - Foo Fighters.  The second best song because they moved the finish line, I swear.

Me and Mary Jo - Post Race

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Month Without Him

A month ago, my dad died.  It was unexpected.  I got the call late Friday night, and I couldn't process it.  My first reaction was disbelief, followed very quickly by anger.  It's still surreal and I catch myself wanting to call him.

I take comfort that we were able to spend a lot of time together over the past year.  I'm especially thankful that he was able to go with me to Phoenix last December and see my give a presentation to the officers there.  He was also able to meet Sheriff Joe, and tour the famous Tent City jails.  We even got him some pink boxer shorts. 

For his birthday present this year, we met in Kansas City over Memorial Day to see the Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals play.  He was a Royals fan and it was fun to see him and Maddy ribbing one another about their teams.

He went to Dallas in June and saw a Rangers baseball game with his remaining two brothers, David and Tony.  My Uncle David gave me a picture from that game at his funeral, and I'm so happy to have it.

He also came here in July with his brother, Tony, and saw the Rangers and the Cardinals play.  Again, he and Maddy had a good time giving each other grief. 

I spoke at his funeral.  I talked about how he had many nicknames, but his favorite was PaPa.  I talked about how he loved his grandkids, and how he built PaPa's playground for them.  He was a cool granddad, because he had an awesome garage full of power tools and spray paint and if you said, "PaPa, can you build me something," he'd say "Ok!"  And the next thing you know, you've got a rocking horse or a set of shelves or a wishing well or a windmill. 

He was shattered when Jessica and Kelli were killed.  He was also very angry.  But in the last couple of years, I could see him starting to come back to how he used to be.  He was letting go of the anger, he was getting back to the old PaPa, the old Bart, back to my daddy.  He was getting out of the house and reconnecting with friends and family.  I knew how he felt - I didn't want to be social for a long time either.  It was great to see him going places and doing things and not being quite so bitter anymore. It was short-lived, but I'm glad he was happy again.  

From day one of my life he was there.  Whether I needed a hug, advice, help with my homework or an ass beating, I could always count on him. I am, and always will be, a daddy's girl.