500th Post + Run the Hook Recap

Run the Hook in Sandy Hook, NJ, was quite the experience. I’d been to Jersey twice before, once to Wildwood and once to Jersey City/Hoboken to park and ride the train into NYC. However, this time, I travelled with a Jersey native and we stayed with one of her friends’ parents’. Packet pickup was easy – it was at the local running store. I also got a shirt that was on clearance, my favorite kind of shirt. Of course we hit Starbucks a few times over the 24 hours and checked out World Market and a health food store.

Sunday morning was pretty chill because we didn’t have to leave for Sandy Hook until 8:30 or so with a race start at 10am. We got to the parking lot and then had about a mile or 15 minute walk to the start. It was cold, around 50*, rainy, and windy (up to 26 mph gusts). I set my intention early on, even a few days before, because I knew I had to be in the right mindset mentally.

Before running in 50* rain and 26mph wind gusts

After warming up, we got to the start line about 10 minutes before go time. 10:00 came and went, and we were standing, shivering, waiting to get going. I did not consider bringing long pants or a long sleeve shirt, or even gloves to a May race. I had a short sleeve shirt and compression shorts so I was anxious to get going.

10:03, 10:04 rolled around, and people were getting antsy, so antsy in fact that they started yelling things like, “Let’s go!” “Start! Start!” When the RD came on the mic and said, “We’re just trying to make sure as many people as possible get to the start line,” people lost it – they definitely expressed their feelings with words. Jackie told me that this was a very Jersey experience, so I laughed and embraced it.

Screenshot of the rain

The course itself was great – very flat and easy to follow. I carried only my phone (in a baggie in my pocket), headphones, and my Garmin. We ran along the Sandy Hook Bay side of the peninsula (or barrier spit, rather). The wind was pretty constant except for some gusts that took my breath away. The rain was mostly unnoticeable the majority of the time except for when my cotton shirt got heavy. Eventually my hands warmed up past numb.

We. Were. Soaked.

I had mostly negative splits, and was very cognizant of my effort towards the beginning. I knew that if I didn’t keep it under control, my heart rate would jump up at the beginning and it’d be a very difficult race.

We did a couple out-and-backs on the 10K course. I saw Jackie at one point and she got a couple pics. I was actually in really good spirits the entire time – mostly because I literally had no other option. We were gonna be cold and wet anyway, so might as well have a good attitude. I found myself smiling quite a bit, and I’m sure having music helped.

Werkin’ in. If you look closely, you can see a huuuuuge smile on my face.

I crossed the line, according to official results, in 55:33. Strava says I completed 6.01 miles in 55:36. It’s unclear to me, even after the RD posted after the race, how long the course actually was. I started my watch late. With these differing results, I can infer that I ran between a 8:57 and 9:14 pace, which either way is a huge PR for me. In February, my 10K pace was 9:35.

I was so pleased and definitely had that runner’s high from even a few minutes into the race. It was a HUGE mental and physical breakthrough for me to run like that in those conditions.

It took a hot shower, layers, and brunch to warm up. We headed home and besides the rain, the drive was uneventful.

It’s Tuesday and I’m still elated from that race. I got to cross another state off my list, and be reminded that yes, training works. Yes, my body works. I have a runner’s body. I can do hard things. By far, this has been the best Mother’s Day in years.

Next up: Maryland Half Marathon. I’m comin’ for ya.

Couldn’t do it.

Sometimes it takes saying goodbye to something to realize you really want it.

Mercies Per Mile has been here for a long time, and I’m not going to let it go.

It really is the theme of my life: it describes how my faith has infused my running, my cross-country moves, and just moving forward in time as I get older.

So I’ve decided to commit fully and buy the domain. I think I purchased it years ago, and then let it lapse. But I’m here to stay, and I want to fully break out of this strange writer’s block cage so that I can let my words flow free.

I’m thankful for the community that’s been created with blogging, and thanks to readers for making this a safe space for me to express myself.

Putting this to rest.

After this blog post, Mercies Per Mile will be put to rest. I will still be rambling on the Internet – you can find me at
https://medium.com/@wilcoxon.elizabeth

Here’s my eulogy for Mercies Per Mile.

The thought came to me during a run, and I was so excited about it. Mercies Per Mile… how perfect of a name for a running a blog that’s also about faith.

And so I wrote and wrote and wrote on this blog, pouring my heart out during all the idle time I had while my husband was away on some military endeavor. Through marathon training. Through just running. Through infertility. Through cross country moves.

It’s time, though, to move on to new things. I was just remarking to my husband how the whole of America is emotionally constipated. How Americans don’t want anything to die. They don’t want to bury anything or even see it changed. Americans so desperately don’t want things to die that they send their animals to the taxidermist and their loved ones to the embalmer.

But maybe in my rant I was talking about me.

So I’m moving on, letting this die, making way for something new. It’s scarier than it was before. I know more about people and the world and change.

I will leave you with an excerpt of a poem that is dear to me.

“The time has come," the Walrus said, 
   “To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
   Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
   And whether pigs have wings.”

The time has come. The time has come, indeed.

End of the Week :: Overflow Thoughts

Sometimes I write things down so I don’t have to think about them at 3am.

Overall I’m proud of the person I’m becoming as I turn 33 soon. The other day I ‘held space’ for a young student mourning the loss of a family pet. I’ve been through enough shit (ahem, loss) that I felt I could really be there with her loss. Ten years old is an age where shit gets real… Even small children have big feelings, but at 10 it seems like you start to see yourself and the things you’re going through in the context of the world around you.. and that can be scary. Lesson plans be damned; that was the best part of my week.

My whole goal in life is to be the person I would want for myself. The coworker, the friend, the aunt, the wife. I have a long way to go, no doubt, and I get that it sounds a little narcissistic. But aren’t we all? Isn’t narcissism a human survival mechanism? If we weren’t worried about ourselves, we wouldn’t have fought that sabertooth tiger. Or the t-rex. I kid. Humans and dinosaurs didn’t live at the same time, unless you’re Chris Pratt in Jurassic World.

This week has left me tiiiiiired. Like teacher tired. Like it’s almost spring break but we ain’t got no spring break tired.

Zzzzz……

Books have souls

I had convinced myself that I really loved reading. That I was a voracious bookworm, just itching at every chance to read whatever book had a sad-looking folded up bookmark in the pages. I convinced myself that dog-earing a page in a book was a travesty, and that turning the page not from the bottom corner was senseless mutilation.

I realized only a few years ago that I’d convinced myself of lots of lies about books. I was in love with the idea of reading, curling up on the couch with a blanket and beverage, and just getting lost in the pages. I saw myself in a sunlit room encapsulated by smartly stocked bookshelves with books just waiting to jump off the shelves and land in my lap.

How deceived I was.

The problem was that I lacked an internal motivation to read. Sure, it looked great when I logged “Read” on my Goodreads (one of the best apps in my opinion, btw). Wow, I started a book that was at least 300 pages on December 20 and finished it on December 22? Go me. You love to read.

Wrong.

It wasn’t until I was reading some wisdom from writer Rosie Leizrowice that I realized what my internal motivation could be. Forgive me because even after perusing some of her essays I cannot find the exact quote, but she wrote something about how we take a piece of each book we read with us. Books form us, they color the world we see. And I say, the reason we’re drawn to books is because the story has us as the star.

Once I realized that and started to believe it, I really got down with some books on my couch. Over my winter break I read no fewer than 4 books. Four books in 12 days for me is no small feat. That means, folks, that I actually had to be focused on something for a lot period of time. Something that I had to make come alive in my head, put a voice to.

Once I realized that my squirrelly mind could be occupied by a book long after I finished it, I began (again) to like to read. Now that I understand that my life can be informed and transformed by what I read, it’s interesting to me (again). And dare I, the nonfiction lover of all time, say that I even see a purpose in reading fiction.

To be truthful, I did have a bit of external motivation for my little tryst over winter break. I wanted a damn coffee mug from the library for completing the winter challenge. Committing to the challenge hearkened back to summers spent riding my bike to and from the library to check out books, most of which I actually wanted nothing to do with, and fill up lines on a piece of paper for a small prize.

Still in the dead of winter, I sit on my couch with my blanket and (new!) mug, actually reading because I want to. Imagine.

Homeownership a Year Later: The Main [Flood] Event

Homeownership is a sought-after status in our society today, and Aaron and I settled into this when we were ready, finally ready. We had our downpayment, we had our debt paid off (yaaassss! be gone student loans!) and we knew we’d be in the area for a long enough time to justify buying a home. It had been something we’d looked forward to for nearly our entire relationship.

Closing. We closed on our house on April 24 of last year, so we joke around that Aaron bought me a house for my birthday (the 22nd). Closing would be at 5pm on that Monday, so we rushed to the realtor’s office and signed more paper than we’d ever signed in our lives. Even more than Aaron signed to go into the military. Our lender was there (found him through Churchill Mortgage – amazing people to work with) and he came ready with shrimp salad sandwiches from well-know gas-station-turned-crab-shack Richard’s here in Harford County. Thank goodness because I was hungry, and certainly didn’t want to be hangry!

We were happy that the inspection went well and the house appraised for what we had settled for. We were shelling out a chunk ‘o change, but felt good about it. We went to our rental house that night to pick up some things and we slept in our new home that first night on blankets on the floor. No way we were waiting any longer!

The goal. I’d like to recap some of the main events of the year, some regrets, and some pictures. We sure are happy about our purchase a year later, and hope to be here for a long time. We fell in love with our town before we moved here, and that hasn’t changed. The neighborliness of people, the small-town but progressive feel, and the lovely restaurant/bar choices have helped make so-called HdG feel like home.

0515172009_HDR   0302171804

The Main [Flood] Event. On the Friday after we moved in, literally 4 days, I was doing laundry and running the dishwasher at the same time and we heard water running somewhere else. The toilet in the downstairs half bath had flooded, and we thought it was just a clogged toilet. It wouldn’t go down despite much plunging and two trips to get plungers. I had, um, used the bathroom, and Aaron told me months later that he was mad at me because he thought it was my fault! Turns out, it wasn’t.

We had a large deductible because hey, we just moved into this nicely rehabbed home so what could go wrong, right? Wrong! Roto Rooter was the only company that would come out on a Friday night. Water mitigation began the next day, and imagine our surprise when the plumber still couldn’t find the problem and the bathroom sink ended up overflowing (yes, with poop water).

Sections of the beautiful hardwood were cut out and we learned that it might be impossible to find the same hardwood again. Thankfully our realtor was able to get in contact with the guy who did the house and we didn’t have to replace the entire first floor floor.

After time spent trying to send a small camera into the sewer pipe, they started excavating the concrete floor of the sunroom to the left of what you see above. I thought they might have to dig into the kitchen too. Instead, they pulled out a piece of old terra cotta sewer line (the rest of the house is PVC) and found a die-cast toy car that had been blocking the line.

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See it there in the middle? Yellow and covered with… well…. you know.

We thought about framing it and titling it “the most expensive car we’ve ever owned”. But it got buried with the new PVC pipe (no, not in it). Thankfully because of the nature of the blockage (i.e. NOT OUR FAULT) insurance picked up most of the repairs minus our (high) deductible and some of the plumbing cost. Needless to say, we lowered our deductible shortly after this event.

In June, the contractors finally got everything done – new hardwood installed, new walls, new paint, new tile. We still had people over for a Memorial Day cookout, and the ripped up floor and bathroom certainly made for an interesting conversation starter. And for months anytime we heard water running our heart rates spiked a little bit.

Eternal

The word eternal automatically brings up images of silky white fabric that twists gently in a breeze, fastened onto something on one end but the free end extends far beyond what our eyes can see. Even our mind’s eye.

An eternal forces compels us every day. Why else do we seem and seek to have a greater meaning to our lives? Even superheroes, who are fictional, speak to us through the eternal forces that cause them to throw themselves into danger and protect their fellow man.

I think it’s so comforting to know that there’s a world beyond this one. Something greater and that lasts forever. I think by definition of the universe there has to be forces beyond ourselves that transcend human understanding. By that I mean God. There has to be something out there.