The Band at Warbird Park

You should have seen me and the other walkers and joggers at the back of the pack as we exited what used to be the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base last Saturday morning. We were juking and jiving to the sounds of “Kansas City” that came from a band set up at Warbird Park. One of the advantages of being in the rear is that since you don’t have to worry about time, you can relax and enjoy the journey. I’d be willing to bet that many of the speedsters ahead of us didn’t even notice the band, much less let it affect their pace.

This is absolutely my last post about Saturday’s half-marathon in Myrtle Beach. If I had allowed my qualms about finishing get to me, I never would have experienced that sight or those sounds. Those guys were really into their music!

For some reason, I always get anxious and uptight before any kind of event such as this one. Tossing and turning, I often move from one bed to another, sometimes ending up on a couch. Friday night and the wee hours of Saturday morning were no exception. Desperate for a few hours of shut-eye, I even succumbed to biting off half of a Tylenol PM.

At some point during the night, I decided that I just wasn’t going to do it. Nope. That was all there was to it. I could not and would not embarrass myself by going out and walking 13.1 miles on such a sleep deficit. When it began to rain, that cemented the deal. I finally dozed off, and when I awoke at 4:30 a.m., my first thought was, “Let’s do this thing!”

Because of that decision I saw and heard and experienced things that I’d have missed otherwise.  Here are a few of them:

  • The excitement and energy of the crowd as we stood in the rain under the streetlights on Bob Grissom Parkway near Broadway at the Beach. It was especially cool to share some of those moments with one of my brothers.
  • A man running barefoot. Ouch.
  • A woman dressed in yellow from head to toe including her yellow headdress that was supposed to represent the sun.
  • The man in the orange t-shirt that I used to pace myself. Although I passed him from time to time, he proved to be my nemesis and crossed the finish line several minutes before I did.
  • The man holding the American flag aloft as he ran.
  • The man holding up his left hand in a gesture of peace.
  • More colorful and zany outfits than I have time to describe.
  • The strong headwind that just about did us in.
  • The sun coming up over the ocean.
  • The light in the steeple at First Baptist Church
  • The woman from Delaware that I crossed the finish line with. She had left 60 inches of snow the day before to travel to SC.
  • The experience of Facetiming with my son and his daughter as I strolled down Ocean Boulevard.
  • The enthusiastic cheers of Coastal Carolina students who offered water and Gatorade.

I’m glad I got out there and made some good memories. If anyone out there in Blogland has some half marathon or marathon memories to share, I’d sure like to hear them. Mike? Elaine?

Good to Go

It will probably take several days for my skin to recover from yesterday’s wind. By the time the half marathon in Myrtle Beach was history, my face was red, parched, and stinging. Walking 13.1 miles straight into the wind can do that. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the entire 13.1; maybe it was only 12. Without a doubt, I know that anyone who participated in yesterday’s event will say, “Wind!” if asked about the weather conditions.

Yep, it was brutal. But here’s the thing. In a few days, my skin will be “right as rain,” as the cliché goes.  It won’t be glowing and luminous the way a 25-year-old’s skin would, but well, you know, I’m not 25. What I’m saying is that my face won’t hurt anymore and that it will be back to a senior citizen’s normal.

Why am I going on and on about my skin? It’s because of some comments I heard back in 1996 before I did my first full marathon. The event was to take place in Anchorage, Alaska, and several dozen people from Myrtle Beach and surrounding areas were part of Leukemia Team in Training group. We met  at least once per week to learn about Anchorage, leukemia research, and how to train for a marathon.

One night we were privileged to hear from a woman from Sumter, SC who had participated in the Anchorage event the year before. Some of her words made a lasting impression on me, and yesterday they resurfaced and reminded me that after a certain point, whining and complaining about injuries and discomfort are taboo. I say “after a certain point” because it’s permissible to share war stories. However, NO ONE wants to hear another person go on and on and on about shin splints or stiffness.

In my words, here’s the gist of what she said: The morning after the marathon, you’re going to be stiff and achy. You’ll feel pain in parts of your body you never knew you had. You might not be able to walk normally for several days. But for the most part, after a good night’s sleep and a warm shower, you’ll begin to feel better. And a day or two after that, you’ll be “good to go.” However, the leukemia patients that you’re walking/jogging/running for aren’t so lucky. They need more than a warm bath and good night’s sleep. They may, in fact, never be as fortunate as you are right this minute.

Those words were sobering and powerful.

We left Alaska on a Sunday morning and had a layover in Salt Lake City. From the airport, I called my friend who had multiple myeloma, a form of leukemia. She was “resting,” and we didn’t talk but a few minutes. I hung up the phone knowing that I was alive and well on the mend. My friend was weak, tired, and in need of a miracle. She has long since passed away, and I have a red, stinging face and a little bit of stiffness.

I’ve never whined about walking or jogging related injuries since that afternoon. I might complain just a tiny bit, but I prefer to call that type of complaining just stating the facts. After that, I think about the motivational talk I heard in the gymnasium on the old Myrtle Beach Air Force Base back in 1996. And I think about my friend Linda.

Inch by Inch

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The time is nigh. Tomorrow before daybreak I’ll be at the Pelican Ball Field with hundreds of other people waiting for the BOOM that signals the beginning of the Myrtle Beach Marathon and Half-Marathon. Before that, we’ll sing the National Anthem and stand around making small talk and listening to the conversations around us.

I’ve participated enough in these events to know that there will be people who are at the top of their game and ready to take off running. They’re at the front of the pack, stretching and checking out their competition. Others, like me, will be feeling a bit anxious as they wonder what it would be like to come in last. I’m not too good at statistics, but I’d say about half of the participants will be coming up excuses about why they aren’t going to do as well as they’d like. Sometimes it’s weather, and often it’s work, family matters, or sickness. Whatever the reason, I understand their motives and fears.

I wish I were faster. I wish I could finish with no discomfort. Nothing’s certain, though. The only thing I know for sure is that I’ve put in the miles. I’ve walked downtown in residential areas, along Ocean Boulevard, at the local track, around our neighborhood, beside busy highways, and down less travelled roads. I’ve pounded the pavement in all kinds of weather, even a little snow and rain. When it would have been so much easier to sit back and take the day off, I remembered Nike’s advice to Just Do It.

Still, I’m a little anxious, and when those moments of doubt or fatigue come, I’ll remind myself of another platitude: Inch by inch, life’s a cinch; yard by yard, life is yard. I’m going to take my husband’s advice and put one foot in front of the other and keep on keeping on. I often remember my first full marathon.

It was in Alaska in 1997, and I went with 40+ people from the Myrtle Beach area who were part of a Team in Training group. All of us were committed to our united cause of raising money for leukemia research. One of my favorite images is of a female lawyer from Myrtle Beach who walked steadily and resolutely all the way to the finish. She didn’t appear to be overwhelmed by the distance the way I was. Alternately walking and jogging, my technique didn’t work as well as her steady, consistent gait.

One of my favorite psychological terms is self-efficacy, the belief that you can make something happen, the knowledge that you have what it takes to be successful. Interestingly, psychologists feel that perceived self-efficacy can be more important than a person’s actual ability. This is true in many areas, but on Half Marathon Eve, I’m only concerned about walking 13.1 miles. I think I can. I hope I can. I know I can.

As I get to the end of this post, I’m thinking of a line from the Beatles, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” I love the support, the numbers of people who come out for these events. They throng the sidewalks and cheer us on. Some offer water and Gatorade, and others shout cheers or play music. No one is negative. Every single person says something akin to, “You can do it!” or “You’re almost there.”

I’ll be looking for the cheering sections on the route tomorrow as I “just do it.” I know that if I take it step by step with the confidence that I can finish, I will.

 I’d love to read of other people’s advice, stories, or experiences with any kind of walking, jogging, running event. Did you have any special challenges? Did you find that old proverbs or clichés helped you? 

Too Precious to Squander

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It’s no secret that I’ve been training for a half marathon this coming Saturday. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no speedster. It’s not like I’m going for the gold. Not at all. I just want to finish the 13.1 miles with a reserve of energy left for the day’s events. And I’d like to have only a minimal amount of discomfort. No stiff legs the next morning.

As I’ve trained (using this word a little loosely), a lot of advice and a number of platitudes have come back to me. I’m sharing a few in the hope that doing so might motivate you in some way whether it’s an exercise goal, an academic challenge, a work aspiration, or a family objective.

My first husband used to advise me to go for endurance and then work on speed. There are many people who do little to prepare themselves for success and then give it all they’ve got on the big day. This doesn’t work, at least not usually. One of my nephews did literally nothing to prepare for the Cooper River Bridge Run one year, and yet on the big day, he managed to whiz by all of us. However, he was 16 years old and physically fit.

Go the distance to reap the reward.

A platitude with a lot of truth behind it is “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” For the most part, I believe that. If I were to sing and sing and sing and never get selected for the choir, I’d feel justified in quitting. Why? I’m just not good enough.

However, there are thousands, probably millions, of people out there who quit endeavors of all kinds, not because they don’t have what it takes but because they just aren’t motivated enough. Maybe they’re lazy. Maybe something else motivates them more. Or maybe they’re actually afraid of success. There’s a syndrome about that (FOS).

If I quit on Saturday, it will be because my left knee finally cracked.

When I was 34 years old, one of my best friends died of cancer, and until that time, I had never seriously considered just how quickly a person’s life could end. She was so young and beautiful. Recently married, she was just beginning to adjust to married life and was considering buying a house.

On the weekend of her funeral, I was jogging, my mind filled with memories of my friend, when I recalled an article I’d read in Runner’s World. The author told of coming upon a fatal accident while he was out running one morning. Disturbed by the scene, he jogged away with an increased appreciation for his healthy heart and lungs and thought, “Ah life!” Exactly!

Ah life! You’re too precious to squander.

I know there are readers out there who are working towards something, some goal that’s important to them. What advice can you add to the above? Or perhaps you’ll consider sharing a story of your own.

Dogs and Sea Birds

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I should be grading assignments. I know that. And yet, I just have to share some pictures I took when my brother Mike and I took an early morning walk along the beach a few hours ago. I texted him last night to say I’d pick him up at 7 this morning unless it rained, and this morning he wrote and said, “Je suis prêt.” I think that meant that he was ready and waiting. He’s not French, just unique. He can speak French and German. Nice having a polyglot for a brother. I’m exaggerating just a bit. His French isn’t that bon (bien?), but his German  is.

This morning when I picked Mike up, it was raining. Mall walking was a back-up plan, and I’m sure glad that by the time we arrived Myrtle Beach State Park, the steady rain had slowed to a drizzle. Within five minutes, it had stopped completely. Malls are fine, but there’s just something extraordinarily special in Mother Nature’s offerings, and this morning’s sights and sounds were no exception.

This morning we saw frolicking dogs, one of whom was turning around and around and around chasing a red cloth that he had in his own mouth. It was hysterical to watch, and we wondered aloud whether he would be dizzy after so much twirling. Farther along the strand, we spied two small figures out in the cold ocean, and Mike said, “Can you imagine going in the water this morning? You know they have to be freezing.” About that time, we saw their father watching from the shore and asked when he was going to join them.

“I’m not! That water’s so cold I can’t even keep my feet in it,” he said.

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Mike and I came to the area just beyond the Springmaid Pier where there’s often a swash of water so deep and wide that a person can’t cross over without getting wet. Anyone familiar with this stretch of shoreline knows this exact spot. We considered jumping from rock to rock but thought better of it. Can’t afford to break a limb at this stage of the game. No problem. We simply turned around and walked south for another 45 minutes.

Above and around us was the gray sky filled with white fluffy clouds. I used to know the name of them but have forgotten. Perhaps one of my grandchildren will let me know a nimbus from a cumulus. Beside us was the greenish gray ocean, roaring and pounding on the shore. And yes, it was flecked with foam. We walked out on the pier and observed the seabirds as they sat like sentinels keeping an eye on the ocean (and their next meal?). One of them sat hunkered down as though hiding from something. Humans with iPhones perhaps? We went through the gift shop on the way to and from the pier, and the gentleman there assured us that the weather would be nicer later in the day. The beach in any kind of weather is good!

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Mike and I talked about religion, blessings, America, family, and health. About the latter, we concur with the experts that prevention is better than any cure. We don’t know that exercise and attention to diet will solve all health issues, but we do know that a sedentary lifestyle and too many doughnuts can be hazardous to your health and longevity. About family, Mike said he knew for a fact that our youngest brother David was the favorite because his name has two syllables while the rest of us have names with one: Jayne, Mike, and Ann. Crazy, funny guy! The truth is that if our parents had a favorite, they hid it well.

Time to start reading assignments. It’s a great big beautiful world right outside of your window, and experiencing some of its wonders with a cool brother got my day off to a wonderful start. Mike also said that of the four of us, he thought I was the most “out there.” Hmmm. Good or bad thing?

Other Blogs

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Quick post to say that this blog appears to be my primary one, and I can’t change that (have dutifully followed instructions several times). I have three blogs, and this one is more about personal experiences and ponderings in the day-to-day life of a mother, grandmother, wife, teacher, sister, friend……..you get the picture. It’s a potpourri of many different topics, so if that’s what you’re looking for, then this is it. Since Mom’s Musings is the first blog I started, that’s probably why it’s still listed as my primary one regardless of my attempts to change its status.

My other two blogs might interest you too. Or rather, they might interest you MORE than the above mentioned one because they’re focused on specific topics. Gossip and Solitude (http://jaynebowers.wordpress.com/) is a weblog about my writing experiences and is an attempt to meld a website and blog together. Not only do I post about the fun, woes, rewards, hassles, disappointments, and triumphs of writing, but I also post book reviews.

The third blog, Beating a Path, is about teaching experiences. I’ve been teaching in the SC Technical Education system since 1975 (ouch…long time!), and this blogs includes ideas, suggestions, and stories. I’m still teaching part-time, mainly because I just can’t leave the magic of the classroom. Educational practices and trends continue to change, and for a number of years I’ve also taught online classes. The link to Beating a path is http://www.jpbowers.wordpress.com.

I hope you’ll check out the other two blogs, especially since I think a lot of people are directed to Mom’s Musings by accident…or rather because of a wordpress issue that I can’t figure out.

Happy Blogging!

Outer Banks Experience

What an awesome day. I know that awesome is overused, but honestly, I can’t think of a more appropriate way to describe this November day. My brothers, one of my nephews, and I participated in the OBX half marathon this morning, and from the moment I heard “God Bless America” at the start until I watched my brother Mike and his wife Lisa dance in Big Al’s afterwards, sights and experiences too many to describe took place.

Oh, and one of my second cousins, Emily, also participated in the event. Wait, no, she did more than participate. She ran like the wind. John David, my nephew whizzed by her at some point, and my brothers weren’t too far behind them. Me? I walked along like an automaton, pausing long enough to take some pictures. Of course, I was the last one of my group to cross the finish, but my age (yes, I’ll admit it) and my knees prohibited a faster journey from Nags Head to Manteo. I’m still happy to be able to go the distance without undue stress or strain.

Along the way, I saw some interesting (nice all purpose word) sights. There were women of all ages wearing tutus and colorful skirts, and I thought, “Hmmm, maybe next year for the skirt, not the tutu.” As I reached the top of the bridge leaving Nag’s Head, I passed an older man in a wheelchair giving it all he had. “Yay! Love his indomitable spirit,” I thought. I saw water, water everywhere and took lots of pictures of it. I also saw and appreciated hundreds of people along the way who gave water, Gatorade, and plain old encouragement. The folks who lived in the super nice neighborhoods that we went through came out in full force to cheer us on.

I heard lots of cool things too. For instance, part of the way I listened to Amelia Earhart’s story on my iPhone and learned that she had been tomboy as a child. Walking/jogging for 13.1 miles requires something a little peppier than a book, however, so I also listened to Adele, the Beatles, and various other artists. I also listened to a few hymns, and I found it a bit humorous that Josh Groban’s “The Prayer” was playing when I began that daunting ascent of the bridge. While I don’t really think of that as a hymn, it was quite appropriate for the situation. I also heard lots of snippets of conversation, and among other things, learned about how painful having one’s ACL repaired can be.

But the absolute best part of an experience like today’s was sharing it with other people. I mean, really, who would enjoy moving along for 13.1 miles all by herself just for the heck of it? The other people, all shapes, sizes, ages, colors, and levels of fitness are what added to my “moving” pleasure. Some people were so fast! In fact, when I was on the bridge at about mile 10, the first of the marathoners sped by me. Others were barely putting one foot in front of the other, especially towards the end. But they did. They just kept on keeping on. Some were basically alone like yours truly, and others walked, jogged, and ran with partners.

After I crossed the finish line in Manteo, all eight of us reconvened for some photo ops. Last year our favorite shot was beside a ship with some flags, one American and one pirate. This year, the couple had taken the flags down and were about to move out of the harbor when someone mentioned how much we enjoyed that location and background last year. Generous and gracious, they replaced the flags and invited us to get into the boat for the picture. How nice is that?

After taking several dozen photographs, we went to Big Al’s for lunch. That’s become a tradition. Love those sweet potato fries and the music. Mike and Lisa danced (right on the dance floor), but Chris, Becky, and I confined our dancing to table dancing…or as Chris calls it, “shoulder dancing.” We also sang to a couple of songs on the juke box before going back to Big Bird to rest for a while before walking on the beach and visiting Jeanette’s Pier. What we especially enjoyed was seeing people fishing on the beach and on the pier. I’d describe their attire (including their knee boots and hip boots) and intense concentration, but I’m too tired.

Just wanted to get something up for my brother Mike who asked at several points during the day, “Are you going to blog about this?”