Sunday, July 20, 2014

Celebrate we will.

"Celebrate we will
Because life is short but sweet for certain
We're climbing two by two
To be sure these days continue
These things we cannot change."

~ Dave Matthews Band's "Two Step"

I live life with more gusto now. More intention, more vigor. Matter of fact, I'm climbing two by two.

That is, I want to take it all in. Not two by two like I want to rush it along or anything. But just in big sweeping steps to get more of it.

Hmmm. Does this even make sense? Probably not. Oh well. Feeling rambly.

(That's a warning.)

Today I ran 13.1 miles with an old and dear friend. But before that we spent the weekend laughing out loud and talking about everything and nothing. We ate healthy-healthy and terrible-ish, too. We walked down the streets of Chicago going somewhere and nowhere. And the whole time, I savored it all. Every sight, every sound.

This would be my third half marathon. My third--whoa. I met up with my college sorority linesister/pledge sister Glencia who lives in Chicago. Being around her felt easy and natural which was good. Very good. But, still, I didn't take it for granted. I squinted my eyes and took it all in.

Isn't it good to have easy friendships? Non-heavy and non-pressured? That's what I think. 

We hit the expo which is where and when you get your race number and packet. Glencia inspected the route to let us know what we were in for. All I knew was that we were in for 13.1 miles of running. It was hard to ignore that fact, even if part of it was along a lake front. Ha.

One of Harry's best friends, Derrick, was kind enough to chauffeur us to and from the expo, too. He's the only person I know that's even more easygoing than Glencia. So hanging out with both of them at the same time was awesome. Plus I loved telling Harry that Derrick was looking out for us.

That reminds me--I love that my husband has very good and very old friends. That says something about him if you ask me. They all seem to have this code where they look out for each other and take care of each others' "people."  Derrick took care of us.

Plus he's not hard on the eyes and is ,as Harry says, "a smooth brother."  Even if he's like a real brother to me, I can say that, right?

So yes. The expo was cool and Derrick was great. He dropped us off and we had some lunch at a swanky spot in the thick of it all. So Chicago, man. The city had a pulse and it was thumping. I loved it.

Then we took the L. Just because I wouldn't feel like I was in Chicago unless we did. So we did.

We got up early this morning. Started it off with simultaneous yawning and laughter just like we did when we were Delta pledges hiding from our big sisters. Ha. And that part was wonderful.

I had even laid all my stuff out the night before like a good runner. Yup. This is either "good runner" practice or "corny runner" practice. But whichever, that's what I did.

Once we got there, I let myself notice things. And notice people. I can't say that's so unusual for me, but I feel like I do it more now. I take it all in two by two, you know? No, you don't? Oh well. Anyways. I made friends in the crowd and asked people where they were from. I heard their stories and smiled with them. And since I love people, that part was good, too.

Three best friends from Minnesota, New Jersey, and Illinois met up for the race.
This woman, Peg (in purple) ran with her husband and their two daughters. Peg beat them all.
A little pre-race shenanigans never hurts

The race was tough. Surprisingly so considering how flat the Chicago course was. I'd heard that having no hills hurts more since you don't have to switch up muscle groups. And man was I sore. Well. It could have been that or just the fact that my training wasn't fully up to snuff. My guess is that it was a little of both.

And. My GPS devices were all going cattywompus. ("Cattywompus" is such a JoLai word. Ha.) I had no idea what my pace was or what mile I was on. Like two seconds into the race, my Map My Run app said, "DISTANCE: 1 MILE. PACE 5 MINUTES PER MILE."  For two seconds I was excited. I thought I'd turned into that dude Meb who won the Boston Marathon.

Or not. Ha.

I still had fun, though. And despite being GPS-sabotaged, I finished in quite a respectable time, if I do say so myself. Not far at all from my personal record--or "P.R." as us runner-people call it. Nope.

*brushes off shoulders*

So yeah. That was fun. In fact, all of it was fun, actually. Wait, can you say that? "In fact" and then "actually?" Oh well. You get the picture.

Glencia's coworker braved the crowds and met us down at the finish. He had cupcakes, too. But even sweeter was his big smile and the fact that he'd gotten up so early to be there.

Very cool.

Oh! And they even gave out beer afterwards. Beer! You know, to replenish the ol' carbohydrates.

Ah hem.

So I was super happy and ultra giddy. Not even because of the Michelob Ultra beer, either. Then I got hit with that wave of melancholy that always hits me after a long race. I originally started running in memory of my sister Deanna and as a way to tell heart disease to kick rocks. I run and I think, "Take that, you thief!" and sometimes I even say out loud, "BOOM! In yo' face, heart disease!" I actually do. Yup. And so. I always dedicate the third and last miles to her. Usually, I run and weep for the final mile and it's fine. People are usually so dog tired that they don't even see me. Or they just think I'm super sweaty or just emotional. But for whatever reason, this time I didn't cry on mile 12 like usual.


It happened after I was sitting in a Thai restaurant with Glencia a few hours later. I had just sent a text to Will and JoLai telling the that I'd finished the race. And then I ended it with this:

"Turns out not where but who you're with that really matters." ~ DMB #runfordeanna

Now. That quote comes from the lyrics to an old Dave Matthews Band song and writing that to them immediately put the song in my head. It also made me hear the next stanza after that line in the song:

"And hurts not much when your around."

Which made me cry. And is making me cry again. And will make me cry anytime I think of it.


Glen was awesome. She let me cry and she understood. She knew Deanna personally and was keenly aware of the hole that was left behind when she departed. And as much as a buzz kill as it was to have me with leaky eyes after her first (awesome) half marathon, she was patient. It was a sunshower, fortunately. And before we knew it, we were back to laughing.

Will and JoLai love the Dave Matthews Band. Deanna and I have always just sort of gone along for the ride with them. Later on, I started listening to Dave Matthews Band a little more and though I didn't fall in love like my eldest and youngest sibs, I did start to hear the lyrics differently. They spoke to my spirit a lot more and I let them. That felt good since I know how much Jo and Will love that band.


I did listen to lots of Dave Matthews on my playlist today. And, specifically, I played "The Best of What's Around" and "Two Step" just to connect me to my siblings. The running part feels spiritual and like I'm connecting with Deanna and the Dave Matthews music part feels like a hug from JoLai and Will at the same time. And all of it together felt good which made me feel strong.

You know what else?

I was with a good friend. A sorority sister, no less. Which made it even better.

Here's what I'm thinking right now: My life is good. It is rich and wonderful and full of love. I have legs that can run strong for 13.1 miles and a heart that can sustain my body when I do. And family and friends that I wouldn't trade for the world.

And so. Celebrate I will. Because life is short but sweet for certain. I'm climbing two by two to be sure these days continue.

And if that doesn't work? I'll make the best of what's around.


"See, you and me
Have a better time than most can dream
Have it better than the best
And so can pull on through
Whatever tears at us
Whatever holds us down
And if nothing can be done
We'll make the best of what's around

Turns out not where but who you're with
That really matters
And hurts not much when you're around."

~ Dave Matthews Band's "The Best of What's Around."

Happy Sunday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . ."Two step". . . 

and my favorite DMB song that always makes me cry. . . "The Best of What's Around."

(I blogged about this song before. Here and here, in case you're interested.)


  1. Great job on ALL of it, Ms. Gorgeous! Strong looks damn good on you.

  2. You did Rock n Roll Chicago!! That's awesome! I'm doing Rock n Roll Philadelphia in September. Very excited since it's my first half marathon. Congrats on completing your third!

    Derin A.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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