And like that, there went July.
July was full of a lot of action: being in Ohio for the first almost two weeks, visiting family, and then returning to SJ, getting ready to race at SF, and then finally racing the thing. Like I said in my June recap, it was awesome to be able to see my family for nearly three weeks in June-July and to be able to train in some of the more beautiful parts of Akron, hills and humidity and all.
While I was in Ohio, I jumped in a local 4th of July 5 mile race in North Canton and basically got slaughtered by young XC whippersnappers — I was the token 30 something in the top ten women — which was actually a lot of fun, even on the heels of a 20 mile workout about 48 hours prior. It made for a pretty good boost of confidence, a hefty 5 mi PR (easy to do since I had only raced this distance once before), and a great way to start the day.
July also marked the one-year anniversary of my cousin’s death, and while I have struggled to find a way to write about it and still have some degree of order and cohesion to my very scattered and likely conflicting and contradictory thoughts, I finally gave up and just verbally vomited it all out in this post here. Thank you to everyone who has read it and publicly or privately reached out to me since then; I am so quickly learning that the depth and reach of addiction overshadows anything I had ever conceptualized about the disease before. Its span is huge and without discrimination. Since I wrote that post, my sis informed me that carfentanil has returned to Akron but masked as OxyContin pills, so now folks who abuse OxyContin run the risk of ODing on a large animal sedative disguised as an opioid. What a fucking tragedy.
By the end of the month, I had the joy of racing the San Francisco Marathon for the third time and doing all the fun race weekend activities entailed with TSFM. In just 24 hours’ time, I saw tons of friends, both at the expo and on race day, and even got to run with some buddies mid-race, which was a treat. While I am, admittedly, slightly annoyed that I didn’t race faster, I am nonetheless thoroughly happy with my experience and how strong I felt from start to finish. This may be the only time in my life that I run mirror-perfect splits in a marathon, from the front half to the back half, so I’m reveling in the fact that I did that on such a hard course (and in some unforgiving weather for the first 11 miles). The marathon is a great teacher, and I’ve walked away from my 29th marathon still learning something new about how to approach this beast. For that, I am grateful (and can’t wait to race it again).
And finally, just six days later, I got to chase my own racing experience with going up to spectate at Ironman Santa Rosa in, you guessed it, Santa Rosa. My predominant Sunday morning LR partners, Saurabh and Chaitanya, were both racing there, in their 4th go at the IM distance, and I was absolutely thrilled that I could make the 2.5 hour/100 mile drive north and be able to catch them, plus a friend from Boston in town to race, Ann, about 6 times on the three-loop marathon run course. I have zero interest in ever doing a tri, much less an IM, but as a long distance runner, I know how awesome it is to see a friendly face on the course, particularly if things go south. Standing around cheering, cowbelling, and spectating was super inspiring. Just like with running, I saw so many different people, and so many different body shapes and sizes and speeds, but the common denominator amongst everyone was their passion. That shit’s palpable, man. I had a blast cheering for my friends and basically laughing at the president of BASE salt, whose company was handing out salt very near where I was standing, for about 4 ½ hours. (Seriously, his dance moves to what had to have been the best Pandora station ever for an aid station were so impressive. He was full throttle for just about the entire time I was there. Homeboy was dripping in sweat comparable to the triathletes). Hefty PRs for Saurabh and Chai, too, in addition to many of their teammates, which just sweetened the already very awesome day even more.
So here we are, 203+ miles later and August-bound. Wild. I’ll be taking a little bit of downtime before starting CIM training, and I may jump into some XC PA action this fall, too. We’ll see. I’ve been feeling well post-TSFM, albeit probably a little more tired than usual, but my complaints are minimal. I’m planning to pace the 3:33 group at Santa Rosa at the end of the month, so I imagine that I’ll be focusing most of my August running on being able to lock in that pace in my sleep. We only have a little bit of time left before my eldest starts school — back to the bike-stroller commutes! — and then, I imagine things will really start to fly around here. That’s how things seem to roll, anyway.
Reading: I finished Homesick for Another World when I was in Ohio, and it might have been my one and only fiction book this year. It was great — I love short stories — and weird as hell in parts. Some of the characters were oddly endearing. I’d recommend it. I started Ariel Levy’s memoir but had to return it (boo; waiting for it to come back to me), and I had to re-start The Gene after also having to return it before I was finished with it. The same thing goes with David Sedaris’ Theft by Finding. I’m not really keen on this Sedaris book, but what keeps me going is that so much of it takes place right where we used to live in Chicago, in Uptown. It’s interesting to read what has changed and what has remained the same. Make Your Bed, something that G literally took off a library shelf and gave to me to bring home, was about what I expected, though still pretty inspiring and interesting. Ronda Rousey’s bio, My Fight/Your Fight, was also weird as hell in parts but fairly inspiring, too.
Listening: to not much, in the way of podcasts. Still not feeling it much. I enjoyed Tina Muir’s talk with Magda Boulet, but I think it’s because I just really like Magda. She’s cool as hell and super humble. We met at my first race postpartum after G, and she ran alongside A, as well as her son, so we’re all basically best friends now.
Watching: again, not much. Aside from maybe a few more episodes of Master of None, honestly I can’t recall the last time I went out of my way to sit down and watch tv. I think I spent most of whatever free time I could string together in July reading, writing, or sleeping. In advance of a marathon, that sounds about right, anyway.