Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Break 2014...

...also known as Spring Break, a Half Marathon, and the Quintessential Sitcom Neighbor

This is what Spring Breaks past looked like.

Although I must admit that I sometimes miss the sluttiness of those old Spring Breaks and that raunchy feeling that only comes with being the other half of a pair of drunken strangers passing (their underwear back to each other) in the night, I do have to say that, for the most part, I prefer the Spring Breaks of today as a wife and a mother.

This year, my Spring Break is going to start off with my second half marathon, and it will include—among other things—a trip to Legoland, a children’s museum, and an overnight stay in a hotel with rooms that used to be train cars.

In the months prior to signing up for my first half marathon, my neighbor Don had taken up running.  It was the first exercise he’d done in about 8 years, and he was determined to be good at it. And he was.  He completed his first half marathon and then bragged to me about it for no fewer than 5 months.

“Shay,” he would say, sauntering into my backyard after a 5-mile run, “you’ve GOT to sign up for a half.  Quit being such a pussy.”

I would roll my eyes.  “Don, I’ve been doing this working out thing for about 15 years.  Running is part of my routine and I enjoy it, but I’ll never go more than 3 miles, because then it stops being fun for me.”

Don would chuckle.  “Oh, Shay,” he’d call over his shoulder as he entered his house through the back door, which faced my back yard.  “One day you’ll be as into working out as I am.”

Seriously, you guys.  There has been only one time in the past 15 years that I’ve missed 7 consecutive days of working out—and incidentally, it was during one of my collegiate Spring Breaks, where I was too drunk to even walk, let alone take a jog or do some squats.  And this clown, who’d only started a few months earlier, was going to tell me how to get shit done?

I’m not a competitive person.  At all. I like to pride myself on the fact that I worry about myself and what I’m doing in life without trying to measure up or compare to anyone else.  I believe it’s one of the reasons I normally accomplish what I set out to; I don’t have all of that extra jealousy or competition stuff cluttering up my brain and taking focus away from my goal.

But goddammit, you guys. 

GODDAMMIT.  I ended up signing up for a half marathon last year, and I wasn’t sure if I was doing it because I wanted to do it or just because I wanted to piss Don off.

I was mad at myself for not knowing.  Because I shit on the day that I become as competitive and annoying as Don is with stuff like this.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say screw hiring out a trashy ex-husband to bust a knee Tonya Harding-style;  I’d slam a goddamned bat into my own knee to prevent me from becoming like Don, all condescending smiles and “Run a half marathon—if I can do it, you can…blah blah blah.” 


But I did it, you guys.  For whatever reason, I signed up for my first half marathon last year.

When Don found out, he swiftly changed tactics.  He had spent 5 months goading me into signing up for one, and then he spent the next 12 weeks trying to discourage me.  Because, you see, if I actually completed a half marathon, it wasn’t as special that he had, was it?  I quickly realized that all of the fake encouragement had only been to remind me of how awesome he was because he had done one and I hadn’t.

A few days before my race, he approached me in my backyard, touches of fear shading his eyes.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this, Shay?  I mean, I sure hope you’ve been running some hills.  There are LOTS of nasty hills on the course you’re running. I know because I ran it last year.”

His wife even joined in the fun as she stepped onto their back deck.  “Oh, Shay…good luck on mile 6. It’s terrible.  I had trouble even walking up it to get a picture of Don as he was running.”

I rolled my eyes.  What they didn’t realize was that I had been training hard by running while pushing my very large 1 ½ year old—who had been born at 9 pounds and never looked back—in a jogging stroller while my 4-year-old was at preschool 3 mornings a week.  It was the only time I had to get it done. 

And the hills I’d been running…holy shit, the hills I’d been running.  Not by choice, but because I couldn’t find a damned flat area in which to run in this godforsaken town.  One day, after a particularly tough, hilly run, my good friend from Canada had mentioned how she had loved growing up in the “plains of Manitoba” and I swear to you, I packed my baby up into his carseat, drove my ass home, and googled “real estate in the plains of Manitoba.”

But then I realized that if I moved my whole family to another country just to get away from hills for half marathon training, Don would win. And nobody wanted that.

I tried to explain all of this to Don and his wife that day, but I could tell they weren’t listening. They were too busy yammering on about t-ball games and Christmas lights and hills and shit.

As Don continued his Hill Monologue, trying to scare me, I swear to you—I am not even kidding when I say this; understand that I’m not even kidding—his eyes misted up as the horrors of Mile 6 were replayed behind them.  He managed to choke out “What that sonofabitch hill did to my hamstring—" before I’d had enough and interrupted him.

“Holy shit, Don, it wasn’t fcking Pearl Harbor,” I snapped.  “You were jogging up a hill.”

Don stopped and stared at me for a moment, blinking away tears.  Finally, he wagged his finger at me as he turned to go.  “You wait. Just you wait and see,” he whispered.

He then turned and scurried to his back deck, where his wife had an ice pack all ready for the pain that the memories had brought back to the surface.

The day I finished my half marathon, I texted my husband to tell him, excitedly, that I had done it and that I was on my way home, finisher’s medal proudly displayed around my neck.  He called me as soon as he received my text.

“I’m so proud of you, babe!” he had time to get out before I heard a yipping voice in the background.  A second or two later, I heard a smile in his voice as he said, “Oh—um, Don wants to know your time.”

The hubs and I actually adore Don.  He’s such a great guy if you can get past his annoying little quirks—which we can, because we understand that we have our own little annoying quirks.  And besides, it’s so much fun messing with him when he gets like this.

"Oh, I don’t even know.  All I know is I ran the whole thing, and that was my goal.  I think my time was like 2:12?”

When my husband relayed the information to Don, who had apparently been hoping it was more like 4:12, I could hear my neighbor's disappointed gasp all the way on my end of the phone.  Because dammit—that wasn’t a bad time for someone’s first half marathon.  And so now I had to rub it in even more.

“Tell Don it was actually pretty easy,” I said, a smile now in my voice, too.  “I kept looking for those hills he’d been talking about, but they just never came…”  I let my voice trail off as if I were confused.  I knew that Don couldn’t hear it but that my husband would appreciate it.  And he did.  I heard him chuckle as he relayed my confusion to Don.  Then I heard Don say something in reply.

“What did he say?” I asked my husband.

“He said they must’ve changed the route,” my husband replied deadpan. 

[That, by the way, has become one of my and my husband’s favorite lines ever.  “What do you mean, you couldn’t get the car seat to fit the right way and you need me to go out there and do it?  I just did it yesterday at my sister’s house, and it latched in completely easily,” my husband will say.  “They must have changed the route,” I’ll reply.  It works for so many situations, and it never fails to cause my husband and me to fall into heaps of hysterical laughter on the floor after one of us uses it.]

When I got home a couple of hours later, Don was standing in my driveway with my husband, a map in his hand.  I got out of the car and had just enough time to receive congratulatory hugs from my husband and my boys before Don thrust the map under my nose.

“I told your husband, it had to be a different route than the one I ran last year, because you would’ve noticed those terrible hills,” he persisted, pointing to one particular spot on the map labeled “MILE 6” in blood-red letters.  “Does this look familiar to you?”

I shoved the map aside with a smile.  “Don, you know I can’t read maps. I don’t know if they changed the damned route or not.  All I know is that there weren’t any hills on this course.”

There actually was a hill—a Mile 6 hill—that the race coordinators even had a name for and a mini-challenge with a special medal for the fastest runner on that part of the race.  And it had been challenging—although nowhere near as tough as Don had described.  But I wasn’t going to tell him that.  I was going to let him sweat it.

And sweat it he did.  Because a few days later, Don tapped on my back door.  When I opened it up, he looked at me, a new challenge set in his eyes.  “Well, I looked it up, and you actually did run the exact same course as I did last year, hills and all.” 

That Don is so earnest, taking everyone at his/her word with an innocence that is really sweet and almost adorable for a 40-year-old guy—that I almost took pity on him and told him the truth about Mile 6.  Almost.

Instead, I let him continue.

“So good job on the course.  I looked up your bib number and you were right about your time, except you were actually off by 2 minutes.  You completed it in 2:10—faster than you thought.”  He looked down and swallowed, and I thought—here it comes.  Here is where he tells me that he’s sorry for doubting me all of these weeks and that I am just as cool as he is because I ran a half marathon, too…

Don looked up at me and grinned.  “After you’ve run 3 of them, come talk to me.  Because you’re not a real runner unless you’ve run 3 half marathons like I have.”

As he turned to walk out my door and started down the steps of my back deck, I decided I couldn’t drop it.  “Oh, no, didn’t the hubs tell you?  I’m researching marathon training.  I’m thinking of doing a full in the fall.”

Holy shit, no I’m not.  I have no interest in EVER doing a full marathon, and I don’t want to insult those runners out there who do them by acting as if I can just throw it out there nonchalantly—because I know what dedication running takes and how challenging running a full marathon would be. 

But I had to say it.  Because the look on Don’s face as he almost tripped down my stairs was awesome, and I’ll never forget it. 

And while I didn’t sign up for a full marathon in the fall, what I did do, dammit, was sign up for 2 more half marathons, one this week and one in May.  And dammit if I can’t fcking tell if I’m doing it for Don or for myself.

It doesn’t matter.  I’ve signed up, and I’m doing them.  SIGH.

Damn Don and his competitive nature rubbing off on me.  Where the hell is that baseball bat again?

A side note:  I'm taking next week off from posting for Spring Break.  I'd like to claim that it's because I'll be too hungover to tap out a post on my trusty little keyboard, but we all know that's a lie. (Growing up is hard, isn't it?  SIGH...)  The truth is, I'll be busy with my boys at an aquarium or a zoo or some other kid-friendly place, and I'm too much of a technodumbass to have figured out how to schedule one of my backup posts to appear on its own next Friday.  I should probably figure that out...

In the meantime, have a great Spring Break, and I hope you'll join me back here on the 4th!


  1. Ha! You and Don should do one together. And you should sing along merrily the whole time even if it kills you :)

  2. I agree with what Kate said---you and Don should just get the competition over and run a race together! Then you can write another fabulous blog about it! :-)

    1. Girls: I agree. I have asked him to do one with me, but he's told me he isn't ready right now--meaning if he's not in the shape to have a chance at beating the times on his last ones, he refuses to do it. My only rule for myself is that I run the whole way--not a step of walking--but Don is really serious about his times. One of these days we will--and I don't even care that he'll beat me. I just think it would be fun. As annoying as he can be, I do adore the guy--in that annoying older brother kind of way. :)

  3. I don't know about running one with Don - that may be more challenging than running a full marathon. Have a great week with your boys, Shay - catch you on the 4th!

  4. Hahaha, good thing I don't have a neighbor like him, But come to think of it, you are doing things you thought you can't do because subconsciously someone challenged you even if the approach doesn't seem encouraging.

    1. There you go! That's a great way to look at it. Like I always say, he annoys the hell out of me, but he's a great guy. I wonder if he'd say the same thing about me...or perhaps he'd stop at, "She annoys the hell out of me"...:)

  5. I love the shit out of this story, even if it does make me feel like a super lazyass. Don sounds like a fun neighbor to tease. I mean HAVE, a fun neighbor to have. Man, I'm jealous, I wish I could enjoy, or even hate a little less, running. It's torture to every part of my body.
    Have a fun spring break! We'll miss you, and we can just manually read one of your old posts!

    1. Thanks, Joy! It took me a long time to enjoy running...literally years of keeping at it and pushing myself. But now I can honestly say I love it. Not that I wouldn't prefer not to be naturally skinny and NOT to have to do it...:)

  6. Maybe I need a neighbor like Don because I'm pretty lazy when it comes to running. As in, I don't really do any. I love that you are though and hope that you have a most party-on excellent spring break at aquariums and other cool kid places, Shay!

  7. Guess Don didn't know who he was screwing with! So now you're doing half marathons AND showing Don, win/win.

    Hope you're having a great Spring Break, enjoy your time with the kids.

    1. Thanks, Karen! It was a great break, and I came back ready to get back to the old grind. I love when Spring Breaks really do make you feel refreshe and ready to get back at it.

  8. I love the story with Don! That is so freaking hilarious!! Enjoy spring break with the boys!!

  9. Congrats on the half-marathon and for making Don look like a dumbass. My guess is, though, he'll always try to find a way to try and look down on you, even if you outrun him, outplay him and out-think him. Methinks he needs a better way to boost his self-esteem.

    1. I know that's what it is; I've met his family and competition is totally the way they relate to one another. It's in his blood and he does always seem to have to prove himself around his siblings and his dad, so I think that carries over to his relationships with other people. But he is such a great neighbor to have, and he handles taking my crap quite well (believe me, he gives as well as he gets!), so that's always fun. Haha