Where to start…

Lots of words to lead up to 10 minutes that I haven’t to right words to speak more clearly about…I hope you read and understand where I’ve been and where I am now…

March:  I’m starting to run again because I have again signed up for the Port Townsend Rhody Run, a local 12k which is run in May*  I’ve encouraged friends at work to sign up but, as of yet, I’m running alone again.  I love the power I feel after increasing my distance.  Each step is “further than I’ve gone before” and I am in awe of myself.  Not that I’m doing anything special that anyone else would think was worthy of awe but when I think of how many years I talked about running while I barely made it over the bridge in Sitka and how far I have come since my ‘Before’ and ‘After’ photos…well, it is darn amazing to me.

Early April:  Still encouraging friends to sign up for the Rhody, I may have 2 on the hook.  Still training and increasing my miles.  Love it!  Toying with the idea of running the Seattle Marathon in December.  I get emails all the time from SM because I ran the Seattle 10k in 2011 and had registered for the 2012 10k but failed to train.  Maybe I could do that as my “next big thing”.

Mid-April:  Found a blog that talked about “destination races”, the idea of travel to a distant place to run a race.  Her #1 pick?  Maui.  Hmmm…I know someone on O’ahu…is there a big race there I could train for?  I wonder….

Late April:  M is late picking me up from work and I get a random phone call from my brother, K who lives on O’ahu and has so for nearly all his life.  Its a guilt call because I haven’t met my nephews, his sons, yet and they are now 8 and 6.  Big fail Auntie Tasha.  They say that if I don’t come to visit soon, Auntie Janyne will be their favourite.  Enough.  I tell K that I’m thinking about registering for the Honolulu Marathon that will be run in December and that he should run with me.  He laughs at me and tells me that he’ll cheer very loudly instead.  He also makes a Clydesdale vs Stallion comparison about his own body type and running and tells me that he and Janyne have picked me as the runner which I laugh at (and then blog about in mid May).  I stand in the cold outside of work for a little while pondering this now verbalised idea of running a marathon for a while before calling and waking up M to come and get me.  I go home and research plane fare and race fees.

Mid May:  I register after weeks of researching training plans, best plane fares and questioning my sanity.  I run the Rhody Run on the 19th, all 12k/7.46mi of it, and wonder why I ever thought that a *$&^ing marathon with its 42k/26.2mi was a good idea.  Training begins a few days after but, since I can never do anything by half, I had thrown in a few other races before my December 8th goal.  Lots of weeks are between me and then and I want incentives along the way.  Foam Fest, Seattle 10k, maybe a half…we’ll see what else.

Rest of May, June, July:  Running.  Lots and lots of running.  Sometimes following the Runners World SmartCoach plan, sometimes not being so specific but always getting in the mileage because I want to hit my goal for the Seattle 10k of PR-ing.

Early August:  Foam run with KV and KT, my co-workers.  So. Much. FUN!  Worth the drive to Issaquah just to play in the foam and certainly will have many, many others join us next year.**  Not so much a race but an obstacle course that was so very much fun as well as so very muddy and foamy!

End of August:  Seattle 10k.  I felt very good for this run, especially since we got there right on time (not too early) and I had never been to Gas Works Park.  The run was…challenging…more for little issues with the course and post-race than anything else.  For starters, who plans a race like this and then doesn’t post the course on the website until 2 days before?  Apparently they had planned things and then forgot to tell the runners.  Next, who on earth thinks a funnel is a good idea in the early parts of a race?  Yeah, me neither.  How about a time when the racers have to run against the tide of other runners coming thru?  Or, better yet, when one group has to cross paths with the other? Yeah, me neither.  Oh, how about when we mislabel a box of shirts with “M” when they are “XXL”?  Yeah, that was a PITA.  I understand running out of shirts towards the end but really, I was in the front of the middle of the pack, not the end so that last one shouldn’t have been an issue!  In the days after the race I sent a strongly worded email (well thought out and not sent for a few days post anger) about the course and my unwearable shirt, seriously, it was too big for M(!), to the contact that I had emailed for months before about the course plan with no hopes of a reply because my months of prior emails never got me a response and, surprise, surprise, got one back.  She apologised and asked for my mailing address so they could send me a proper shirt.  Thankfully I got it…and wear the XXL for a nightdress.

End of September:  On a cold, blustery, rain sideways-y day, I ran the 1st ever Quilicene Half Marathon and my first “official” half marathon.  KT and KV were going to run it with me but then KT hurt her back and KV had to work so they were going to cheer for me until the weather hit this particular stage of icy death.  It was actually a cheat on my planned training schedule of 16 miles but considering that I did it in a running skirt and wool top in the pouring and blowing rain, I called it a win.  Actually, I tell myself and M that because of the foul weather and my insanity of running in it on an ‘off’ day, I get credit for those other 3 miles.  Despite cramping about mile 10 and forgetting fuel, I managed to pull out a very respectable 2:26:46 and am quite happy with myself.  And I take a long, hot bath to thaw the surface ice and get blood flowing back into seriously wrinkled toes from being in soggy shoes.  Disregarding the rain, it was a beautiful run, I loved the distance and I’ll sign up again next year.***

October:  More running and I get up to 20 miles in training.  Starting to get…bored.  I love running but I’ve been training for this One Big Race for 5 months now and I’m ready to shake things up a bit.

November:  Nothing shakes things up like not running at all for 3 weeks.  For the record: Not my best idea ever.  Also for the record:  Not the worst one, either.  I’m not as tired all the time, I feel like I’m totally ready to get back out there and I really did need to total break from this one focus.  Being actually ready for the marathon is niggling at the back of my mind but I have so much working/thinking/packing to do before I go, oddly, its not high on my list of rightnow worries.

Post Thanksgiving to 4th December: All relevant thought processes ran as thus: ‘Do I pull out decorations Before or After?  Do I have time for this or the other?  Should I pack X?  Damn.  I don’t think I’ll get presents knit in time to mail to get there in time for the big day.****  Work is stressful.  Meh, go for a run and then think about it/stop thinking about it.’

December 5th-7th:  All thought processes ran with this following phrase running as a background track:  “I’m in Hawaii!  Feel that beautiful sun on your shoulders and know you made it.  Look!  A palm tree!”  Also running:  “Are you ready?  Really Really?  You know you could spend the day at the beach instead.  Not really, but doesn’t that sound nicer than attempting 26.2 freaking miles?”  I got lucky enough to have family who live in Mililani, HI, which is smack-dab in the middle of the island of O’ahu, and thus avoided most of the tourists, you know, cause I’m not one of them and got up every morning and ran before the sun got too much.  I did some mild sightseeing but was afraid of wearing out myself both from the heat and sun so I took it pretty easy.  Thursday was lovely as SIL W took off the day from work and showed me around and then to the Expo so I could pick up my packet and race bib.  Best days ever were spent at Haunauma Bay on Friday where I saw so many fish and even two green sea turtles(!) and with my nephews, first at the Christmas parade and had home and then at the Lagoons and sushi on Saturday before the race.  They were amazing at keeping my mind off the race and on them.

December 8th:  Why on earth did I think that what I really, really wanted to do in life was spend 6+ months preparing, travel 6 hours by plane, lie awake worrying about 6 our of 8 hours “sleep” about missing my set alarm to get up at 2:30am, get dressed in running clothes, get picked up at 3 to head to the race state at 4:30 for a crazy race start at 5am?  And why, during all of this would I have this niggling voice to put a totally unnecessary piece of plastic in my pocket?  Crazy.  But I did it.  I honestly spent the first 1.5 hours thinking that I was nuts, questioning why I was doing this insane thing and thinking very negative thoughts about Sisyphus as I worked my way up Diamond Head within the crush of the crowd.  And then, it happens.  Of all the random things, as the sun begins to rise on that beautiful December morning, a rooster calls out his greeting just as he always does because its a normal day in his chicken life and he is oblivious to the thousands of people moving along, just this side of his little chicken world, and I start to laugh.  Suddenly, this run becomes fun again and I, I am in Hawaii darn it all.  I have been running my backside off, literally as I dropped a pants size, to get here and how many people do I know that can say they ran a marathon in Hawaii so how very cool am I?  This positive burst gets me up the hill with a smile and keeps me going thru Hawaii-Kai where I see the turnaround that I was promised, lo those many miles ago and I finally get the sun OFF my face directly and onto the side and I begin the trek back.  Damn plastic getting in the way when I reach for a gelblok.  I am pleased to see that there are people behind me because I had started to get nervous although my splits, as near as I can figure since my watch has been blinking Low Battery at me for a while now, have been pretty steady and right were I want them…which is “consistent”.  While I tried to/thought I’d have a time goal, I learned quick that it wasn’t so smart, especially since the people that picked me up commented on the heat and lack of wind.  Note:  When the locals say its warm and windless, be warned.  Wow.  Was it ever hot, that sun is relentless and boy, was I ever tired and, from looking at the signs, I still have at least an hour+ to go because I’m just passing mile 20, the furthest I’ve ever gone.  I finished chewing my most recent gelblock, a gift from the gods for LDRs in this runners opinion and was cursing, once again, that piece of folded plastic in my pocket that keeps getting in the way of my access to the manna kept in my thigh pocket (the best part of my SparkleSkirt and THE reason I chose to wear my Everest sparkle over another).  I move the little orange pouch to my L side thinking that it may not bother me as much over there.  And then…

Ooops, I see someone trip and start to fall in the distance, up there and on my right…hope they are OK…hope I’M OK…I’m so hot…where is the next water station…just keep going…

And then…

I hope they are OK…I can see there is a group of people standing around them…that girl further back was OK after she tripped on a cone, maybe this one hurt a knee or ankle…that would suck so close to the end, I mean, we’re just over 20 miles here, nearly there Tasha, just keep going because you know you can do it…

Then.

That looks weird…he’s on his back…

I knew the reason I had not ignored that still, small voice that had told me to bring that orange pouch.

STOP. He is not ok.  Someone says he’s not breathing…where is the pouch, did I drop it, oh God don’t let me have dropped it after all this time…I can help him…the pouch is on my left…Call 911, tell them where we are…who else knows CPR, lets get started…thank goodness for this other guy in purple, we can do this for this guy…totally sucks…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30…breath, breath…again, keep going, keep going, EMS is on their way, switch roles, keep going, keep going, switch roles…finally, EMTs…they didn’t move me, just put the pads around us…clear…keep going…clear…keep going…get him on the gurney…keep going…OK, they are lifting and taking him now…there goes my valve…the guy in purple looks as…stunned is a good word as I do…say something…Ok then…good…see you…

And it was over.  He, both of the “he”s were gone.  The EMS with one, the crowed with the other.  It took me a minute to realise that the race had gone on around me, that 99% of people passing by hadn’t stopped and that this hadn’t changed their race at all…and there was nothing else I could do but continue my run and pray for the downed CPR guy.

“Aside from that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?”

Ouch.  There was soreness especially from, as I came to learn later, my hips were forced to go from ‘movement’ to ‘stability’ in about an instant and without stretching or cooldown and then I expected to go back to ‘movement’ about 10 minutes later.  Not pleasant at all and very visible to all friends and family who watched my times get longer and longer and wonder what was happening.  I just kept going, walk some, jog some, all the rest of those 6 miles and thinking about how good it would feel to stop moving and stretch and relax those sore places and hope that CPR guy was OK and, in a morbid sense of humour, just laughing at myself knowing that I felt better than him, especially since I felt those ribs crack and cartilage pop!

And then it was over.  And there were phone calls to my support crew all over the country and my SIL who would be picking me up later from the park and a banana and water and then the joy of my first shave ice from the Waiola Store…the best shave ice that I had (I tried 3 places before I left :) ) And walking was difficult and I couldn’t have eaten more than that shave ice if I wanted to and I really, really didn’t want to eat anything, and laying at the beach and walking in the water at the lagoon was so lovely though the salt water stung my raw bits, both known and unknown and then felt so very good and then I felt like a salad would be just the right amount of food and then shower and then bed and feeling like I was worn out though not totally horribly bad…until I woke up in the morning and found that sleeping up in a loft was probably NOT the best idea ever because the thought of that ladder was scary enough to make me stay in bed until my bladder forced me to move, like NOW.

The rest of my Monday was spent hobbling around the North Shore with my friend, my brother K’s mom, PR and her son MR, admiring waves and water along the North Shore and they treated me to dinner and a show at the Polynesian Cultural Center, both of which were fantastic, as was the company.  Tuesday was spent with W and my nephews at the Arizona Memorial which was breathtakingly sad/amazing/thought-provoking/awesome and then playing in the “ripples, because ‘waves’ are bigger” at the beach before I’s basketball practice and then home for packing before my flight home on Wednesday morning.

While at the airport, I got a text from W who excitedly told me that she met someone who knew the guy I gave CPR to and wanted to pass on my contact information.  I agreed wholeheartedly…and then got on a plane to the frozen Pacific Northwest…and landed with a message left on my phone from a mysterious HI phone number…

And thus started the “Thank Yous” and messages about and phone calls with my CPR guy, BD.  He not only made it to the hospital but, in the following 11 days, has made it thru surgery to be home again and is on the road to recovery.  As his story post CPR isn’t mine to tell, I shan’t but I will tell you that I have been…overwhelmed with emails of thanks.  Overwhelmed because, well, as much as I feel like I just did what anyone would do, I know that, obviously, it was a HUGE thing for him and his friends and family and that, as I saw, very few people stopped to help or even knew what to do.  I just don’t have the words to respond to them as “You’re Welcome” just seems…silly and inadequate somehow.  My friends and family are also admiring of my actions and, again, I don’t know how to deal with this attention.

I did something fantastic…but I did nothing that anyone who had the knowledge wouldn’t do.

I gave up my marathon time AND kept running after performing CPR…but I didn’t really have an option, its what you do when someone needs help and you know what to do.  Besides, it was my first marathon and I was hot and tired and I’m just glad that I had the stamina to perform CPR correctly!  As for still finishing the race…um, I had to get to the end because thats where my ride would be and my mileage and sun fried brain couldn’t have told you any other way to do it.

I’m in touch with BD and friends and family and, in honour of my efforts, have been given the hash name of “Heart Throb” and a honorary place in their running group which I am so thankful for.  As a solo runner, the idea of having a group to run with is fun and inspiring to me, and  I’ve passed on to everyone that the biggest “Thank You” that they can give me is a copy of their renewed CPR card because, obviously, even marathon trained runners can need assistance!***** I’m toying with the idea of going back to HI in the near future and teaching CPR myself to the group and other groups that those members are a part of because, well really, someone nicknamed “Heart Throb” teaching CPR to a group whos member recently needed it is…totally awesome.
I’m so glad I was there in the right place at the right time.
Live well BD.  Know that MY life has changed because of you too.

*I’ll sign-up again on January 1st when early registration opens.  Race date: May 18th, 2014!

**Foam Fest Seattle, Sat. July 12th 2014!

***Sept. 27th, 2014 is the 2nd Annual race.

****Yeah.  No.  There was very little knitting and actually NO spinning done from September to the present day.  I need to spend some quality time with my wheels.

***** As an instructor for AHA CPR, I have watched the instructional DVD for BLS for healthcare providers about a gajillion times and can recite the *@%#ing thing.  The one part that has always bugged the crap out of me is the opening scene:  Two runners who slow down to take a break on a bridge and talk about A) “thinking about training for a marathon.”  B) “Oh, count me in!  I’ve always wanted to do one but didn’t want to put in the training alone.”  A)”Great” B) “So hows work going?” A) *dramatically clutches his chest* B) “Oh, that bad huh?” A)*falls to the ground  B) “Someone call 911″ …and then cuts in the voice about the importance of this training and such.  I used to laugh in my head and think, uh, sure, like that would ever happen to someone prepping for a marathon.  I’ll never be able to see that opening scene again without very vivid memories, thoughts of BD, a tear and a prayer of thanks.