Marathon Woes

I ran my first, and possibly last, marathon on March 21, 2010.  Running the LA Marathon had been a dream of mine since high school, but being a competitive athlete, there was no way I could take off the weeks needed for recovery afterwards; the race is always held in the heart of Track season.  After a college injury and advice from my trainers, I reluctantly stopped competitive running altogether.  Without the motivation to race, I gradually discontinued any sort of training.  I still ran here and there, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that I decided to get back into races. 
I use the word “races” as a term, not literally.  I was not willing to re-injure myself and do any all-out competitions; I just wanted to get out there with other people who shared my passion and run the best that I could.  So that October, I got my cousin Marissa, her husband Alex, and my friend Danny to join me in our first half-marathon.  With limited time for training, and all of us just getting back into running, it was surprising how easy the 13.1 miles were!  When I finished, I felt like I could have easily kept going.  This spurred our interest in a full-length marathon, and we quickly began a training program. 
Despite numerous long training runs (the last four Saturday runs being 16-22 miles each), I still managed to hit that wall during the actual marathon, and I hit it at mile 16.  Basically, the thought of going another 10 miles was messing with my head, and I started to feel discouraged.  Luckily, I had my cousin by my side, and with Marissa’s support, I was able to get over that mental block.  We were doing this together, dammit, and nothing was going to stop us! 

Then something happened that I was completely unprepared for.  Somewhere during mile 19, I peed my pants.  Yes, you read that right.  I straight peed on myself, and I couldn’t stop it!  I was so embarrassed, I couldn’t even tell Marissa what was happening to me.  It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever had to endure while running.  Small squirts of urine would seep out regardless of how hard I tried to keep it in.  Those who know me well, know I don’t drink a lot of water, even on runs, and I think that was my saving grace.  While my dark blue shorts slowly became saturated, nothing ran down my legs, and for that, I was grateful.  But the thought of having a dark spot in the crotch of my shorts gave me further motivation to finish the race.

My new goal was to quickly get to each water station so that I could create a façade of cooling myself by dumping water all over my front in an attempt to hide the ever-growing patch on my shorts.  And it worked!  When I was emailed my marathon photos, the first thing I looked for was my pee stain.  Fortunately, not even a hint of it could be seen!  Although I was mortified when it started, and worried that there would be photographic evidence, by the time I hit mile 22, I didn’t care if onlookers could tell.  I was the one butchering my body to complete 26.2 miles and they were just standing on the sidelines; judge away!

After 5 hours 4 minutes and 50 seconds, I crossed that finish line (relatively dry) with Marissa and Danny by my side, and it was one of the most intense feelings I have ever experienced.  Tears of pride, pain, and relief streamed down my face as I hugged Marissa and Danny.  We did it!  Will I do it again?  “Hell no!” was my immediate response for a long time.  However, lately, I’ve been contemplating running another.  Each time I think about it though, there’s a big question looming in my mind: Is it worth the possibility of urinating on myself to get a time under 5 hours? 

It just might be. 

Stop and Inhale the Air Around the Roses

I can’t smell.  Never could, never will. 

What’s funny about this condition of mine is that I didn’t realize it until middle school, and didn’t really grasp it until high school.  It wasn’t until college that I fully understood that I was missing out, and only a year and a half ago was I informed that my disorder had a name: anosmia.  (Thanks for your random knowledge, Greg!)  It’s not like it’s a sense anyone else can immediately notice is absent, and not being born with it, I never really knew what I was missing.  Turns out, this is common for anosmatic people.    

My very first recollection of not smelling something was in first grade.  As my classmates and I were walking back to class from recess, Angela, my best friend at the time, turned around to hand me a Tinkerbell brand lip gloss that she wanted me to smell.  I inhaled deeply through my nose, and caught nothing.  Angela was smiling, her eyes gazing at me expectantly. 
“It smells good, right?” she asked as she nodded waiting for my approval. 
“Mmm, yeah!”  I enthusiastically answered, while thinking to myself, “She’s crazy.  That stuff doesn’t have a scent at all.”
That was the first of countless times in my life that I’ve pretended to smell something.  Nowadays, it’s not ‘cause I’m embarrassed about my condition; it’s just easier.  As soon as I let someone know I can’t smell, the next 5-10 minutes are spent describing the how’s and why’s: 
You can’t smell anything?  (Pretty sure that’s what “I can’t smell” means.)
You’ve never smelled anything before in your life?  (Nope.  Maybe if you ask again, I’ll change my answer.)
Here, try to smell [insert object of choice].  (Seriously?  You think the one thing you hand me is going to miraculously cure years of anosmia?)
Is it just allergies?  (No, it’s like being blind.  I just can’t smell.)
So, can you taste food?  (Ugh, here we go…)
In all seriousness though, if I’m going to be around that person again, I like fulfilling their curiosity.  It gives me something unique to talk about, which I rarely can come up with on my own, and it makes it easier for me in the future.  No more faking it all the time.
Don’t feel sorry for me though.  I believe that it’s more a blessing than anything.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to be constantly blasted with scents all day long!  I hear my friends and family gripe about nasty smells more than they chirp about good ones.  And no picky eating for me!  Food is all about texture and temperature. Pretty much, just don’t give me soggy cereal or a cold dinner with course lima beans, and I’ll be happy.  Next time you take a bite of food, pinch your nose while you chew and swallow; that’s what I get out of it. 
Maybe it’s sad for you, but for someone who has never known any other way, it’s normal, and it’s shaped who I’ve become.  Who else can fart in the car, lock all the windows, and truly enjoy the pain they’re causing to their fellow passengers?

Runny Nose 4 Life

So I’ve been sick the last two days.  Nothing major; just a head cold that was probably induced from travel and stress.  But this head cold has been making my nose run like it’s no one’s business!  As I sat here today with the warm, throbbing pain of a raw nose, I couldn’t help but think about how big a role mocos and tissues played in my life.
I’ve had pretty bad allergies since I was a little kid, and my immune system sucks.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve gone a day in my life without using tissue.  I’d love to know what it feels like to wake up in the morning and not need to blow my nose.
In elementary school, I was such a stickler for following the rules that I wouldn’t dare get out of my seat to find a tissue, and I was too shy to ask permission.  Instead, the sleeves of my trusty Girl Scout windbreaker served my runny nose purpose.  At first, the cotton sleeves would just be moist and uncomfortable against my wrists.   When they dried, not only were they stiff, they gave off the shimmer of freshly made snail trails.  Each morning I would crinkle the stiffness away, brush off the crust, and get ready for the next round.  Lovely, I know.
As I got older, I learned to carry a few tissues in the pockets of my jeans; especially when I was camping or away from home.  Unfortunately for me, those few tissues filled up quickly, and the juiciness seeped right through my little pockets.  To spare the embarrassment of weird soak spots on my pants, I’d shove those tightly wadded balls of tissue into the sleeves of my sweatshirts.  There, they could bounce around freely to dry off.  Although the coldness of the soggy tissues was not pleasant (especially if I’d raise my arms and one would roll down to my elbow), it was a brilliant fix when I was out and nowhere near a trashcan.
By the time I got to high school, I learned the value of Pocket Kleenex.  I kept at least two of them in my backpack every day.  What was cool with them, was when I ran out of one pack, I could use the wrapper to neatly gather and keep all the used ones that had been rolling around with my pens and calculator.  Again, I wasn’t about to ask my teachers for permission to get up and throw my tissues away during class.  Besides being shy, I never wanted to throw them away till I got home in case I went through both packs and needed to reuse the least moist of the bunch.  Oh yeah, that happened.  A lot.
I’m always surprised by how many people do not have a single box of tissues in their household!  For a girl whose life revolves around tissue, it’s unimaginable to me how they can survive like that.  Plus, it forces guests like me to run to your bathroom and take a chance that your toilet paper can withstand the needs of my nose.
In closing, as a self-proclaimed connoisseur of tissue, I suggest that you get the regular old 2-ply Kleenex brand tissues (Target’s Up&Up brand is surprisingly comparable).  The Extra Soft Kleenex just leaves behind unflattering fuzz on your face; as well as any Puffs brand.  Yuck!  The lotioney ones are just gross and makes it feel as though you rubbed your mocos all across your upper lip.  And antibacterial?  Please!  You’re the only one touching them; save your money.