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Marathon #16 in State #12, the Mississippi Blues Marathon!

img_7266I think I can safely say I had never experienced “The Deep South” before my recent visit to Jackson, Mississippi. Sure, I’ve been to Florida a lot and even Louisiana, but I would hardly call Tampa and New Orleans a true representation of the South. While waiting for my Uber to the hotel after stepping off of the plane, a gentleman walked past me and my friend Mary Beth and said “Hello Ladies”. Back home, any greeting by a stranger is usually greeted with suspicion. He quickly followed up with, “Welcome to Mississippi. We friendly here.”

Extremely polite strangers were abundant in Jackson. What was not abundant was countless breweries to visit, which I have become accustomed to after running a marathon in a new city. Jackson is like most capitol cities I imagine- probably very busy during the week and then dead on the weekends when professionals are home in other cities. Similar to Detroit, we were told that “the money left Jackson for the suburbs” and there were areas with run down buildings and roads riddled with potholes. However, whenever me and Mary Beth are together, fun is to be had, even if there was only one brewery in town.

Upon landing in Jackson, it was our mission to find coffee and to obsessively check our weather apps to see if the “100% chance of rain all day long, suckas!” forecast had changed at all. My app was more optimistic predicting a 50% chance for rain. My app was horribly wrong. More on that later. The expo for the Mississippi Blues Marathon was held in a local Marriott. It was a nice standard expo with your usual booths for hair bands, medal hangers, and promotions for local races. The woman who gave me my bib said she liked my last name. Again, very polite strangers. Of course, a Blues band played at the expo under blue lights. How meta.

We were told by our very friendly hotel front desk attendant Larry that the new Civil Rights Museum was not to be missed. Mary Beth and I had time to kill, and being the history nerds that we are, decided to check it out along with the Museum of Mississippi History. The history museum was about as exciting as one would expect Mississippi history to be (spoiler alert: moderately interesting). However, the Civil Rights Museum was world-class. It still amazes me the deadly lengths that people went to in order to stop African-Americans from having basic human rights. Seeing banners filled with the thousands of names of those who were lynched, along with a wall filled with the mug shots of all the peaceful protestors who fought for civil rights, was awe-inspiring. If you are ever in Jackson this museum is a must-see. In order to get some levity our next stop was to a local distillery, Cathead. Based on the name along we had to check it out. We were excited to drink some whiskey and vodka until the bartender informed us that local liquor laws prohibited the serving of liquor at a distillery. We would have to drink beer. Oh, darn.

Mary Beth and I ate dinner at a local Blues bar which was pretty dead at around 5pm. Oh well, there was live music and our meals were discounted for running the marathon. We were in bed around 7:30ish and I fell asleep shortly after. Having to get up at 3am that morning to get on a plane took a lot out of me. Despite my 10 hours of sleep, morning came fast and it we began our 1.5 mile walk in the rain, in order to get to the starting line of my 26.2 mile run in the rain. Fun times. Luckily, shortly into our walk some fellow marathoners stopped and asked if we wanted a ride. A lifetime of being told “never get into a car with strangers” went out the window. Besides, there were dressed as runners. So either they were more extremely polite strangers, or very smart sex traffickers who put on a good costume. Thankfully they were the former.

I started my run with the 4:50 pace leader and was feeling like this was a perfect pace and I couldn’t go much faster. I stayed with Mr. 4:50 until around mile 8 when he decided “screw pacing!” and pulled away from the group. Seriously, we were dumbfounded. Maybe he started us out to slowly. At any rate it was around this time I had to make my one and only pee stop. I had to wait nearly 10 minutes in line which killed my spirits, but I was about to piss myself (not that anyone would’ve noticed, all my clothes were soaking wet at this point). In order to make up time I pushed myself to run 9:30ish miles until I hit mile 11. I felt surprisingly strong. The course was pretty through the rain- lots of historic neighborhoods filled with old money. It also offered plenty of challenging hills. I pushed myself to run faster on the down hills and flat portions and took my time on the hilly miles.

Two days before my marathon I attended the funeral of a friend, Karen Perzyk, who was the most amazing runner and triathlete I’ve ever known. She qualified for Boston several times and even the Kona Ironman. It goes without saying Karen was an elite athlete who never accepted less than her best effort. During the second half of my marathon, I felt her presence around me, pushing me through any threat of a wall, pushing me to run faster when I wanted to walk, pushing me to run faster when my legs were killing me. I felt stronger in the last six miles and began running sub-10’s after mile 22. Let me tell you, I have never before in my 15 prior marathons ran negative splits, let alone feel like I’m not going to die in the final miles. There was definitely something bigger than myself with me on that course. I finished in 4:44:30, beating my goal of 4:50.

Usually after a marathon my stomach is not ready for food, but after running the hills of Jackson my stomach wanted ALL THE THINGS. Thankfully there was pizza and beer at the finish. I began shivering in my soaking clothes so we caught an Uber back to the hotel. Mary Beth and I switched into party mode and made our way through many beers, delicious bourbon cocktails, and amazing barbecue.

Running Jackson brought me back some much-needed confidence. It reminded me that I can push myself through pain and fatigue; in fact, that’s the only way to successfully run a marathon. I’m looking forward to the Austin Marathon just three weeks away. I’m hoping to shave a few more minutes off of my finishing time, perhaps run a sub 4:40? My plan is to run less  and cross train more during the week and run long on the weekends. My husband Shawn will FINALLY be accompanying me to an out-of-state marathon and I’m trying to convince him to pace me. He’s one of those annoying people who can run fast with little training.

Long story short- I’m proud of my effort in Jackson and I’m happy to knock another state off of the list. I truly believe 2018 is going to be an amazing year!

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“I can’t believe this is happening to us again.”

This was a phrase that Shawn and I have repeated many times since that awful morning on July 8th. That was the morning we learned that our kitten, Widget, was sick. In case you hadn’t read my previous post, we had just put down our beloved cat Beans just five days before.

We repeated it again on July 17th, when we had to bring Widget into the vet to say our final goodbyes, exactly two weeks to the day after we said our final goodbyes to Beans.

“Are you familiar with how the procedure works?” the vet tech asked us as we sat in the “Comfort Room” in the vet’s office, while Shawn held our ailing kitten in his arms. Yes, unfortunately we were all too familiar with the procedure. And we couldn’t believe this was happening to us again.

Days after Beans passed, Widget spent most of his time sitting on the couch and looking out the window. He missed his big brother, we thought. Then he started eating less of his food. He’s growing up and starting to graze more like a normal cat, we thought. Then on the morning of July 8th he refused to eat at all and began to throw up white foam. My paranoia brought him right into the vet’s office where it was found he had a fever and a very low red blood cell count. A week of hell followed as we went from treating a possible infection or possible autoimmune disorder, squirting liquid medicine in our poor kitten’s mouth morning and night. We had been granted a few days free of forcing a cat to tolerate medicine, now we were back in the game.

After about nine days we knew Widget was getting worse. He no longer ate willingly and we were force feeding him baby food through a dropper. He could barely walk anymore and was nothing but skin and bone. On Monday morning, July 17th, Shawn brought him into the vet for another check up. The doctor agreed it was time to say goodbye. I rushed home from work to join my husband’s side in the “Comfort Room”, and we ended the suffering of our poor, barely 4-month-old kitten.

When you have no definite answers, your mind will run wild with theories. Was there something in our house poisoning our cats? I googled everything from radon poisoning to lead poisoning to sulphur poisoning and none of the symptoms matched. Could I have brought home some exotic toxin from Hawaii? Did he get bit by some insect? Should we have got a second opinion? Did Widget die needlessly? I ended up reaching out to the shelter that we had adopted Widget from, asking if they knew of any mysterious illnesses his siblings may have been diagnosed with. At the time I called, the shelter had heard nothing. Then, this past Friday, they called me back with some devastating, yet oddly comforting news.

Widget’s sibling had suddenly died. The diagnosis was FIP- Feline Infectious Peritonitis. FIP is caused by a common virus that over 80% of cats get exposed to. However, in rare cases, the virus mutates and causes FIP. FIP is untreatable, incurable, and fatal. Most cats die within weeks if not days. Common symptoms are the refusal to eat, anemia, and a fever that will not go away with antibiotics, all of which our Widget had.

I say this awful news was comforting because at least now I have an answer. At least now I know that we were fighting a losing battle and we did everything we possibly could.

Widget lived a happy and spoiled little kitten life. He got to make two trips up to Lake Charlevoix. He would calmly sit on our laps as we sat next to bonfires or sat outside on the deck. He had a huge cat tree all to himself and would snuggle between Shawn and myself to sleep at night. We used to joke that we never wanted to see him get big, never knowing the true weight of our words.

Beans was my first cat, but Widget was my first kitten. He was sweet and cute and calm and loving and jumped on my lap anytime I sat on the couch. He was my “snuggle bunny” and the house just feels so damned empty without him and Beans.

I’m getting by, but the grief has ways of showing up unexpectedly. I was in the grocery store recently and a song came on that I had once danced around the living room to while holding Widget in my arms. Of course I started bawling while everyone else in the toilet paper section walked on oblivious to my pain.

I know we will one day welcome a special new kitty/kitties into our home, and some of that emptiness will dissipate. I just still can’t believe this happened to us, again.



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Down in a Hole

Long time no write. Well, as the rule goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all…

As I always do I started out this year with lofty goals and high expectations and have achieved NONE of said goals. It’s my own fault, I tend to make these goals to distract myself from other things in my life that are bringing me down. For years I’ve put up with unhappiness in my current job but just resigned myself to its clutches, feeling like an indentured servant. Besides, who else would want to hire me? In the past few months a switch went off in my brain and I finally realized, hey! I really DO NOT have to put up with this! I have something to offer! I am smart, I have a degree, I work hard, who wouldn’t want me? Well, as it turns out, tons of people don’t want me and it is difficult not to take the constant rejection personally. However, like I do in mile 22 of a marathon when I’m shuffling along in immense pain and on the verge of tears, I keep going.

As the job search started overtaking my free time, my training for the Detroit Marathon fell by the wayside. The constant job searching, online applications, personality tests, phone interviews, and in person interviews can be mentally exhausting. However, there is another factor affecting my training.  My body has been making it abundantly clear in the past month, with every exhausted and light-headed step, that something isn’t right internally. I know I’m chronically anemic, but it’s at the point where I don’t think kale smoothies and a daily multi-vitamin are even making a difference. I see the doctor next week to rule out anything more drastic. One of my lofty goals this year was to break four hours at the Freep; however, yet again, I may be lucky just to break five. Even my short runs are at a 10:30ish average pace, and that scares me. I haven’t been this slow since training for my first marathon three years ago.

Fun stuff, huh?! All is not lost though. I feel good knowing that at least I’m finally addressing issues instead of burying my head in the sand. My job search may not be as successful as I thought it would be, but I’m still trying. Inexplicably having no energy or speed is frustrating as hell, but I keep running. At this point I don’t even care about being fast anymore, I just want to get back to the point where running eased my anxiety instead of being a major source of it. I just want to Run Happy as the folks at Brooks would say. I have dark moments where I feel stuck, and I get frustrated, and I cry. But anything worth having is worth fighting for, so I’ll keep fighting through the pain, both physical and emotional, until I find a job where I’m valued and gain back that running strength I lost a long time ago.

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 920 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 15 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

To New Beginnings

The end of the year 2013 is fast approaching and I can’t help but start looking back. This past year definitely flew by, probably because I was having so much fun for the most part. Some of the highlights:

1) Running six half marathons

2) Running two full marathons

3) Completing my first sprint triathlon

4) PRing my 5K and 10K

5) Starting a new running/”boozy breakfast” tradition with my friend and favorite running partner Mary Beth

Through running and other exploits, I’ve developed several new relationships in the past year, which is amazing for an introvert like me. I firmly believe that fate has brought every one of these people into my life for good reasons. This past year I also said goodbye to my tumultuous twenties and hello to 30. I admit it was a relief. I can definitely say I entered this new decade with more confidence and a better sense of self than I’ve ever had. However, this better sense of self lead to some questioning of areas in my life in which I’ve been unhappy with for a long time, which brings me to the not-at-all-fun part of 2013:

1) The end of my marriage

2) The beginning of a life on my own

I won’t go into the details of why I’m getting a divorce. Those closest to me know the reasons. While the reasons have not been popular with many of my friends and family, the support I’ve received has been outstanding. It goes to show that when it comes to friendships, quality truly outweighs quantity.

The events that lie ahead will be stressful, which does frighten me. I’ve already chewed my nails down to the bed and lost weight from having a constant upset stomach. Oh, and did I mention the random crying spells, usually at work? However, my motto through it all has been simple, “I’ll live”. With the help of family and friends to make me laugh and hear me cry, and running to clear my head and relieve stress (and the occasional Bacardi binge), I know I’ll make it through this mess.

The upcoming year will be one full of new beginnings, new adventures, and new accomplishments. Somehow I’m going to complete four full marathons and a possible 50K. Yes, it’s almost as though I’m running away from life. But I don’t care. Despite everything, I am excitied for everything to come. My calendar may still read 2013, but my mind is already celebrating my life ahead.

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Laura Tried!


I did it. I finished my first sprint triathlon. Peanuts, I know, but we all have to start somewhere. Despite having a Bud Light budget, I was able to finish with a smile on my face and a strong desire to do more triathlons in the future. As much as I hate writing race recaps, I’d be remiss if I didn’t write about popping my Tri Cherry.
The Location

Beautiful Sandusky, Ohio! actually, the city of Sandusky isn’t beautiful but it does contain Cedar Point, America’s Roller Coast (trademark blah blah). I’ve been coming to Cedar Point since I was a small child, but this was one of first times I came by car, not boat.

I brought my friend Andrea along to be my sherpa/map-reader/life-coach/brain since Randy wasn’t able to make the trip with me. I also had three friends that would be doing the Half Iron Man Sunday morning: Staci, Shawn, and Paul.

Race Day Morning!

I woke up feeling refreshed and excited, despite an evening spent sampling Sandusky’s “night life”. I put on my tri suit and 100 temporary tattoos with my race number and Andrea and I made our way to the transition area. Shawn, Paul, and Staci were awesome enough to wake up bright and early with me. Shawn also attempted to help me set up my transition area, but alas, only the Sprint Tri athletes were allowed. Boo! I was counting on his help but no big deal, I copied off the people around me. As I looked at all the high-end tri bikes I couldn’t help feeling like a fool with my $400 road bike with a helmet I purchased at Meijer’s.

The Swim!

It was a beautiful morning for a swim in Lake Erie, and as I waded out into the water I noticed the temps were good and I was confident in my decision to forego my wet suit. Besides, I hadn’t trained once in a wet suit so why would I mess with it now? Come to think of it, I had only done one short open-water swim before this and wasn’t really prepared and oh my God I’m gonna drown…


Before I could completely panic it was time to swim. Adrenaline overtook me and I only focused on the swimmers around me and staying on course. In fact, I was a little obsessed with staying on course and was constantly looking up to make sure the buoys were in sight. There was one girl who kept bumping into the side of me. Every time I’d move over she’d get closer. I gave her a good kick and she backed off. Like sharks, you must show other swimmers you are a threat and they will quit attacking you.

As I finally approached knee-deep water I wasn’t sure whether to run my way in or swim. Every article I read said swim until you no longer can to conserve your leg energy. Well, I swam in two feet of water and felt stupid. As soon as I stood up my tri-bottom sucked onto me like a second skin. I passed Andrea and my other buddies cheering me on as I made my way to transition. “Do I have a camel toe?” I shouted to Andrea, who shouted back, “Who cares? GO!”

In all, my half mile swim took half and hour to complete. Pitiful. I definitely have some work to do before my next triathlon.

The Bike!

Ah, the dreaded bike portion.

Transition from swim to bike took me nearly six minutes. I was obsessed with getting my feet as dry as possible to prevent blisters. Also, I had no fucking clue what I was doing. Prior to my race I had gone on one 8-mile bike ride, so I had zero expectations for this leg. I finally made it onto my bike and was directed onto a beautiful, yet deserted, road along the coast of Lake Erie. The view was pretty, but there were no other bikers in sight and I was worried I had made a wrong turn. Finally I spotted a photographer. “Am I going the right way?” I shouted at him. “Of course!” he replied, looking at me like the idiot that I am. At least I didn’t ask him if I had a camel toe.

The final half of the bike portion was along a main ride that was NOT closed to traffic. I’ve never rode a bike on a road before, let alone with cars whizzing by, so I was pretty cautious. I drank no water because I thought if I bent down to grab my water, I’d fall off my bike and get flattened by a car. I was so thirsty. All in all, it wasn’t a bad ride. Dare I say it was relaxing? Obviously I didn’t “race” this portion, I just enjoyed it. The 12 mile ride took me 50 minutes to complete. Not as bad as my swim, but not great either. Oh well, on to my run…

The Run!

Well, I certainly learned what I’m good at. As I wheeled my bike into the transition area, I definitely got a sense of the dreaded rubber legs everyone talks about. I had no idea how I was going to run on those things. However, seeing all my buddies cheering me on gave me the strength to turn my hobble into a running-like motion.

The run portion was a stupid double out-and-back loop through the parking lots of Cedar Point, not exactly the “run through the park” the website advertised. Oh well. I had no watch on me so I was blind to my pace. The rubbery leg sensation went away surprisingly quickly and I started feeling stronger. On the run I enjoyed doing what I normally do during a road race: people watching. I saw many fit people and many people who did not look like your average triathlete. It always makes me happy to see all shapes and sizes participate in athletic events.

I’m not sure if dehydration was making me delirious, or if I was feeling a “tri high”, but as I made my way around my second loop I felt ecstatic. “I’m gonna hug and kiss everyone I see! I don’t care if they’re a stranger! I love everyone!” I kept thinking to myself. I heard my name called as I crossed the finish line and saw all of my awesome friends cheering. Luckily for them I spared the kisses but grabbed each one them despite being a sweaty mess. I was so happy to be done.

My 5K time was 25:00, only about 30 seconds slower than my PR. I’m still not sure how the hell I pulled that off.

Closing Thoughts!

I HAD A FUCKING BLAST!! Seriously. I’ve never had that much fun doing any other athletic event in my life. There are definitely more triathlons in my future, and I’m even toying with the idea of doing a Half Iron Man next year. I’ll probably have to sell a kidney for the proper equipment, but hey. You only need one, right? Believe everyone when they tell you triathlons are addicting.

The next day I was able to play cheerleader for all of my Iron Friends. If you ever have a chance, go watch an Iron Man race. It was an inspiration. Seeing all different ages, body types, and abilities convinced me a longer distance triathlon was in my reach.

Phew. Well I hope this wasn’t as boring to read as it was to write. My description did not even come close to capturing the fun, excitement, dread, fear, and empowerment I felt completing my first triathlon.

Next stop: The Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY

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