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?”

More Path Crossing

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post about seizing the special moments in life with the realization that you “may never walk this way together again.” A couple of things have reemphasized the truth of that statement, one being a wonderful conversation with my friend June last night and the other this picture hanging on the wall of one of our bathrooms. It’s a half bath right off the kitchen, and I find myself darting in and out of there often for scissors, cotton balls, or quick mirror checks

This photograph ALWAYS makes me smile when I walk into the caramel colored little bath. It was taken on a pier in Manteo, NC on November 13, 2011. My brothers, Mike and David, and I had just completed a half-marathon and were happy to be finished! The two young women, Elizabeth and Sarah Beth, had participated in an 8K the day before, and the handsome young man is my nephew Chris. He had arrived just that morning to cheer us on and was the first family member I saw as I neared the end. With a charming smile, he said, “Looking good, Aunt Jayne! The others are right around the corner.” The two other women in the photograph are my sisters-in-law, Lisa and Becky, our biggest supporters and the ones who kept all of us straight. That morning they had arisen at the crack of dawn to take us to the race start a couple of miles away.

Introductions and background complete, there are dozens of things that looking at this picture brings to mind. When I see it, I remember so many of the things we shared and did together in the Outer Banks that weekend. While we all have our individual memories, we have our shared ones too. In no certain order, here are some of mine:

  • Getting in a little fender bender on the way back from the Expo that first night. My brother David was driving, and when the light changed to green, he inched forward. Unfortunately, the car in front of us didn’t move, and he gently bumped it. Being honest and upright and all that other good stuff, we pulled over to a parking lot and called the police. There were no nicks or scratches on either car, and yet the woman driving the other car claimed that the incident had shattered the glass in her back of their small station wagon. Mysteriously, there was no sign of glass anywhere…not even in the window! Although the police report said there was no sign of damage, the couple filed a claim. David and Elizabeth and I were in the car at the time, and we all decided that it WOULD NOT spoil our weekend. There are fraudulent people everywhere, and we just happened upon two of them.
  • The delicious meal that Becky prepared on Friday night. Six months later, I can still see and taste the salad that she prepared for us. And the spaghetti was delicious too! During the scrumptious meal, we talked and laughed around the table, and afterwards we adjourned to the living room for more conviviality (Mike will love that I used that word).
  • The shell covered horse statue at the school where Elizabeth and Sarah Beth began and ended the 8K.
  • Our excitement as the girls crossed the finish line and had their picture made with a pirate.
  • Lunch at Big Al’s. Loved the food and atmosphere.
  • The afternoon spent shopping, browsing, and sightseeing in Manteo.
  • Trips down to the beach to collect shells and marvel at the majesty of the ocean.
  • Standing in her bedroom while Becky showed me her collection of shells.
  • The lights on the pier seen from the strand.
  • Thinking of parents and feeling their influence on us. Seeing their DNA reflected in my brothers, daughter, niece, and nephew.
  • Missing my sis and wishing she could be with us.
  • David preparing a small pre-race breakfast on marathon morning.
  • The sights and sounds along the marathon route, including a crazy looking lady cheering us along. She was really a man dressed like a woman.
  • Finishing the half marathon and seeing Elizabeth at the finish.
  • Aching feet. In fact, in the picture my shoes are unlaced, and I’m standing on the backs of them. I remembered that when I looked at the picture and wondered why my legs looked so misshapen.
  • Watching people get beer from a beer truck. Kind of funny.
  • Chowing down on a free barbecue sandwich.
  • Laughing and chatting with my family as we got caught up in the post-race excitement around us.
  • Stopping for the brief shining moment (above) on the pier before leaving Manteo. We loved the flags, especially the American one that was blowing so beautifully in the breeze that day.
  • Topping the weekend off with lunch at Big Al’s.
  • Packing up and bidding everyone farewell.
  • Driving/riding down that long, long, long road back to civilization and taking in the coastal, marshy scenes.

Since that day, there have been changes both large and small. Nothing ever stays the same, right? I began a grandmother again with the birth of Ethan Paul Crolley on March 4, and Chris graduated from law school on May 6. It’s nice having a new baby and a new lawyer in the family!

I’m so glad the eight of us were together for these moments in time. I can’t speak for the younger set, but I’m pretty sure that my brothers and their wives and I will be on that pier for yet another photograph this November. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even convince my husband that it’s worth the seven hour drive.

Laps around the Couch

I love the two young women in this picture. I love their joie de vivre too. And then there’s their “just do it” attitude that prompts them to try new things regardless of what other people might say.

This photo was taken just a few moments after we’d enjoyed a nice lunch with various family members in Manteo, NC. The lunch was to celebrate five of us completing events related to the Outer Banks Marathon, Half Marathon, 8K, 5K, and Fun Run.  My brothers and I completed the half marathon, and Elizabeth and Sarah Beth ran/walked the 8K. It was a picture perfect day (trite but true expression), especially in terms of the weather. The Outer Banks setting added to the awesomeness too. What’s not to savor about briskly moving along beside the Atlantic Ocean and catching glimpses of pirates, Jockey Ridge, sea birds, and gorgeous homes along the sound?

I’ve been participating in events such as this for over 30 years, and I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m so happy with my time!” It’s more likely that I’ll hear excuses for failure to go the distance in record time. “I didn’t’ sleep well last night,” is a frequent one. So are the following:

*“I’ve been sick this week.”
*“I really  haven’t had a chance to train.”
*“I’m not used to running on this terrain.”
*“I’m used to cooler temperatures.”
*“I do my best running later in the day.”

Regardless of their truth or originality, they’re all excuses.

Although my niece Sarah Beth did exceptionally well in the 8K, she wasn’t completely happy with her time. But then, a few minutes after her finish this is what she said, “If anyone dares to say anything about my time, I’m going to say something about their laps around the couch!” When I chuckled at this, she continued, “I mean really. How can anyone say anything about my time when their only exercise is pressing the remote?” That’s my girl, SB!

The family talked about this concept the rest of the weekend. Why is it that people criticize others when they haven’t done anything of merit themselves? And why does it bother the “just do it” folks to hear putdowns? As another example, I often hear people making fun of the people on American Idol, and although I don’t watch that show, I know enough about it to know that the performers sing a heck of a lot better than their critics.

As I told my daughter and niece, it doesn’t matter what your time is, how your performance stacks up to others, or whether you win a prize. What matters is that you get into the fray and give it a shot. It’s better to “just do it” than it is to run laps around your sofa and poke fun at the ones who are going the distance.  Plus, the girls had their picture made with a pirate, earned a cool medal, and enjoyed the post-race ambience at the track.

They’re always naysayers, critics, and bullies, but you have to ignore them and their negativity. Their comments don’t matter, not one iota. And I think this applies to just about any endeavor in life. Whether you take pictures, write poetry, or bake wedding cakes, you just can’t let the critics hold you back.