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.

I think mini backpacks are cool and I don’t care who knows it.

I’m finally feeling like myself again. It’s taken a shit-ton of work. Physical work. Mental work. Emotional work. Hours of therapy. Hours of running. Of listening and meditating on music that feeds my soul. Of advocating for myself and my physical health.

Recently I’ve been reconnecting with the Elizabeth that’s down deep inside, the girl who’s now grown into a woman and hopefully likes what she’s become. As my grandma, Mimi, used to say, “You have to like what you see in the mirror.” Maybe she meant that you like your physical appearance. But I know that mostly she meant that you have to like the person reflected in that piece of glass.

A previous post I wrote about finding my 8th grade journal has taken me on a trip down memory lane. The commitment to writing on this blog with this name comes from a visit to the young Elizabeth who wrote late at night. Wrote poetry. Wrote songs. Some happy, some sad. The girl who in sixth grade went through a very interesting “Harriet the Spy” phase and sat on a stoop at recess with a composition notebook, writing about what she saw. The Elizabeth who wrote a collection of poetry for a project in advanced English in 8th grade entitled “Declaration of Independence”. (I know that period’s in the ‘wrong’ place, btw.)

My language arts teacher mentioned that my poetry was dark and depressing. Fuck yeah it was. I was encountering mental illness for the first time and trying to wrestle with it. Writing was my outlet. I didn’t feel taken seriously, I guess, and I tamped it down and convinced myself all through high school that I hated English class.

“Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong.”

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

All of these 90’s themes coming back have been a catalyst to coming back to young Elizabeth as well. I remember having high-waisted pants. Scrunchies (even ones my mom made to match some dresses/jumpers she made me). Those plastic rings you used to cinch a intentionally too-big t-shirt. Flannel shirts. God, so much flannel. Mini backpacks as a purse.

This one’s pretty cute.

I look at all these kids discovering these things for the first time and it makes me feel old. It also makes me sad that I ever let go of the things I liked. I’m trying to lean in to what I really like, and rediscover it. When you go through shit like infertility and crises of faith, you question your very being, your soul, your core.

So like I was saying in the beginning, I’ve been doing a lot of work to get back to myself. And dammit, I really like mini backpacks. I think they’re adorable. I really like taking running selfies with the self-timer on my camera and I just don’t care who sees me. I like wearing my hair down after a shower without drying and curling it. I generally am not into wearing a lot of makeup – mascara does it just fine for me. I like playing bluegrass really loudly when the windows are open.

Where did I get the idea that what I like to wear or do isn’t good enough? Where did I get the idea that I have to put on makeup and curl my hair in order to look “professional”? I got those ideas from society and culture, and they’ve been internalized. Somehow the cursory comparisons I made with other women got embedded in how I operate, and I’m sick of it.

I just wanna be me. I’m the same but different.

I turned 33 a few weeks ago, and I am so excited about it. 33 going into 34 is going to be such a great year. Maybe I’ll even buy myself a mini backpack.

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.

Not this time

The “Write” button at the top right freaks me out every time. I don’t know how it’s different than picking up a pen and writing on paper. But let’s be honest: that freaks me out too.

For years and years before the advent of blogging (people know that this word originally came from web + log, right?) I used a pen, any color, though it drove me crazy to not have the same color, and a notebook to write my thoughts before bed. I had the same routine. I spent a lot of time writing. Now, since typing on a laptop is so much faster, I have eschewed analog writing.

I think for years I’ve actually been fighting the urge to write every night, or most nights. Things were simpler and less complicated when it was just me, Elizabeth, in my room with my music and my lamp and my stuffed animals. I didn’t answer to anyone (in those moments anyway). I wrote whatever I felt like writing, and often with damn good vocabulary.

Now as a thirty-something contributor to society I tamp down the urge to pour out my thoughts and feelings for eight hours a day. Then, when I come home from this thing that takes up eight hours of my day, I still have other adult-ish things to do and I further tamp down my thoughts. Then I spend time on this stupid thing called the Internet and I can just feel my subconscious screaming to be let up from the silence.

So then, my friends, after working out and making dinner and cleaning up and walking the dog my mind finally takes a huge breath and starts talking.

And here I am, on my bed (husband is downstairs, “Just 10 more minutes on ______”), window open, fan on, warm nonalcoholic drink on my bedside bookshelf, typing away while my brain works out the kinks not just from today but my whole damn life it seems.

A couple weeks ago I found my journal from literally 20 years ago. Ok, found isn’t true. That’s a lie. I knew where it was. I keep all my journals close. So I knew where it was, and I finally thought I’d had enough therapy to delve into my old journals to see what 13-year-old Elizabeth was up to.

Holy mother of everything, my friends, huge newsflash here: Elizabeth is still Elizabeth, and she always has been Elizabeth. She still is a hopeless romantic disguising herself as an apathetic wannabe emo. She still uses words like superfluous and reiterate in normal conversations. She still judges people for not using fancy words like the above in normal conversations. She still loves God and wants the approval of her friends and her mother. Elizabeth is still Elizabeth. Elizabeth is still me.

Upon encountering this 20-year-old discovery, I felt… comfort. I felt like myself. I felt like all the shit I’ve been through in the past few years might have done me in in some ways, but I’m still me. The skeleton and muscles are still intact. I am still myself after all these years.

I think we’re all under the illusion of two things: either that we can’t change at all, or that we could never go back to being the person we once were. I think both are true all the time.

As I embark on the next 20 years, I hearken back to these words, from myself, nearly 20 years ago:

Sunday, December 12, 1999

Dear Journal-

Okay. Brand-new journal. Crisp, fresh, “acid-free” paper. Bold black pen. This is how it starts. Excitement and anticipation build. Then long forgotten periods of neglect. But not this time…

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……

Passion + espresso

I am terrified I won’t feel passion for any life decision again. I spent 28 years of my life preparing to house and birth a child. I chose my college major and my profession around my desire to be a mother. When dating I looked for someone who would not only be a great life partner, but also a good person to raise little people with. When I lost weight initially it was to be healthy for carrying of said child.

How could all of that come from no passion?

Now I’m left with the, needless to say, solid and good consequences from those life decisions. How could it still be empty and (sometimes feel) meaningless?

When I’d be frustrated at work or fed up with someone outside of my home, it was easy for me to escape that situation mentally. In the same vein, when things were good at work and I was really enjoying whatever task was at hand, I had these little jolts of adrenaline (or some other hormone, so sue me I’m not a doctor) that made my heart skip a beat and make me feel infinite happiness and contentment, even just for a moment.

At that time I knew that whatever situation I was experiencing would not compare to what it’d be like to be at home with my nuclear family, my 2.5 kids exactly all 2 years apart, wiping their hands and mouths at lunchtime while the spring breeze blew through the window. I knew at that moment that I’d look at my babies and think back to when I worked and how I couldn’t wait for this moment right here, and how I was finally here and how all existentially amazing that was and pity my former nonparent self. (Disclaimer: I’m kind of a bitch to myself.)

Now, when I have any situation at work, with a friend, or wherever, that is my moment. That is what is, that’s the present. There’s no future moment that’ll come Back-to-the-Future me, no Delorian that will transport me to mornings of dirty high chair trays and fresh laundry coming out of the dryer. There’s just this moment.

The kicker is that I want that breeze-blowing, laundry-scented moment anyway. All the time. Because someone somewhere told me if I just pray enough or am good enough or worthy enough, God will give me the desires of my heart.

The children of that well-meaning but mistaken person should be given a kitten and a few shots of espresso and let loose in the china shop.

Just don’t take my espresso and give it to that child. I’ll be sipping it at the kitchen table, windows open, letting the breeze cool it before it touches my lips.