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Seattle Half-Marathon: ch-check

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

On Sunday, I ran the Seattle Half-Marathon, and man alive, was it fun.

(I just really think that “man alive” should be brought back as an exclamation – “man alive,” and “hot damn.”)

Back in September, I had the thought, “I want to train for something.”  So I went online, looking for a race that would be in a city that I wanted to travel to, and a course that I would like to run.  I realized that Seattle had a race on the Sunday after Thanksgiving; I did the math, and figured out that it was 12 weeks away, to the day.

Serendipity (not the movie) – I started training that night.

The 12 weeks flew by, and before I knew it, I was standing in a crowd of 11,000 people before the sun came up on Sunday morning.  I didn’t train with anyone, and I didn’t run with anyone – I just showed up, jumped into the sea of runners, stared at the people around me, and then ran across the starting line and didn’t stop for 13.1 miles.

I know that I’ve written about running before – how it’s not something that I’ve historically loved, how it’s not something that comes all that naturally, how the fact that I currently consider it one of my hobbies is utterly flabbergasting to me.

But there I was, by my own volition, running my third half-marathon.

For the first 10 miles, I ran a 9-minute mile pace.  For a girl who never runs faster than 10-minute miles, I don’t know where that extra jolt came from – all I can think is that training at Mile High and then dropping to sea level is the way to go.  The last 3 miles were a bit slower, but in the end, I cut 6 minutes off of my previous best time, finishing in 2:03:13.

As I ran, I was struck with how much FUN I was having.  I was just so happy –  traveling through my favorite city on earth, my body cooperating better than I could have hoped, carrying me up hills and around turns and past the man with the hairy back and the woman with the long, whipping, Texas polygamist compound braid.  I watched the people cheering on the sidelines, laughing at some of the signs (i.e. “Worst parade ever”).  I saw my mom and our friend Lisa three times along the course; they win the prize for the best navigation of Seattle streets.  At one point, I swear, I think I saw Vili Fualaau.

I ran uphill, against the wind and the rain.  I thought about the last several years, and how hard they’ve been, and how good they’ve been, and how the road has been uphill and against the wind and the rain – but man alive, this place is beautiful, and hot damn, I’m still breathing.

Running uphill

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Well, well. It seems that yesterday’s post was the blog heard ’round the world – that was the most visits I’ve gotten since December 1, 2010.

In the event that you’re new here, welcome. I’m Annie, the curator of this here little web log, and I live in Denver, where the weather is currently 27 degrees and snowing. I’ve been told that for having a desk job, I lead a pretty exciting life – and a lot of the time, I have to agree, although it’s probably worth arguing that I just like to make a big deal out of the dull. I’m hungry all the time. I order the clothes in my closet according to ROY G. BIV. I’m working really hard toward becoming debt free. I don’t own a single pair of leggings.

Here’s a little glimpse into my present reality.

I’m less than a month away from the Seattle Half-Marathon, and my training has been going super well. I’m excited to run this course through my favorite city (if you’re familiar with Seattle, check it out – such a fun and scenic route). I know that there are a lot of hills, and I’ve been figuring out how to run hills more efficiently. My über-runner friend Mark Miller always says that when running uphill, one should keep the same effort level, but not necessarily the same pace – which is relevant to my life right now.

I’m heading uphill, and trying just as hard – but just going a little bit slower.

Several months back, I found myself at rock bottom in the ditch of all ditches – down with the muskrats and the snakes and the creepy crawlers – with no clear and easy way out. I’m slowly but surely working my way upward, but realizing that a lot of damage has been done. Movement doesn’t come as easily as it once did. I’m finding that it’s helpful to slow down, to not push myself too hard, to strip away distractions, and to focus on one step at a time.

It’s not flashy, and it’s not exciting, and it’s quiet and tough and sometimes painful work that can only be done on my own, under the strength of my own two legs. But it’s leading me higher.

Thanks for being here, friends.

How?

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

I was going to talk about Seattle today.  I was going to tell you how much I love that city, how much I miss it, how much it still feels like home, how much being on the water is necessary to my emotional health and survival, how much my friends mean to me, how much I would love to live there again someday.

But all of that lovely, aching wistfulness has been hijacked by something I was reminded of last night.

I’ve been a member for 8 months, but I don’t know where the bathroom is at 24 Hour Fitness.

I know where the women’s locker room is, and I’ve gone in there looking for a restroom.  But I can’t find it.  I’ve looked everywhere, around every corner.  I’ve found the showers, the sinks, the lockers, the scales, the mirrors.

But I cannot find the toilets.

How?

At this point, I’m too embarrassed to ask.  I mean, it’s too late.  They KNOW me there.  My window of opportunity has passed, and now I’m on my own to to figure this one out.  Godspeed, little gym rat.

But I really do love Seattle.

Crash

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Salutations, readers.  Did you think I had abandoned you?

Oh please.

I should begin by saying that the sickness has left my system – literally, and glory hallelujah.  The only person that knows the specifics of my Monday is my mom, and I’m uncomfortable with even her knowing.  It was… I can’t even go there.  Let’s change the subject.

So here I am, back in Denver.

Time, catapult me out of August already.  August has spread me thinner than a hipster – and it isn’t even over yet.  I hate running on no reserves.

I’ve said before that I believe that our number one act of spiritual worship should be getting enough sleep.  Last weekend, Greta told me that she recently read that the most important factor in a woman’s happiness is whether or not she is well-rested.  How do parents of babies function?  This is an absolute mystery to me.  I don’t even own a house plant, and yet I am crashing – crashing like… why is the only metaphor I can think of “like Kanye at a Taylor Swift speech”?

See.  Crashing.

When I’m crashing, I lose creativity, and get all inconsolable about things like the cardboard box in the corner of my living room.  It’s just sitting there – but it’s just been sitting there since I moved in in January.  I don’t know where to put it.  I don’t know what to do with it.  It’s just THERE, taunting me with its displacement.

Twenty-eight years old is too old to get zits – but then again, Annie Parsons has never been a quitter.

I get irrationally annoyed at bad writing (in the interest of spying on people, I subscribe to some truly horrible blogs), and text messages in which every sentence ends in exclamation points!!!!  This is not the way you talk!!!!!  Calm the hell down!!!  You’re wasting your 160 characters!!!!!

Give my hackles a chance to settle down, and then I’ll tell you about my trip to Seattle last weekend.  Crashing or not, I can tell you right now that it was blissful.

56 pounds

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

At the Denver airport last night, I heaved my suitcase onto the scale at the ticket counter, and cast a furtive glance at the damage: 56 pounds.

For the first time ever, I was going to incite an overweight charge.

But wait!  Could this be my lucky day?  The ticket man hasn’t seen the number yet.  He’s asking for my ID.  He’s handing me my boarding pass.  He turns his back for one moment, and…

I made a run for it.*

I was around the corner before he turned back around to discover my beast of burden.

I triumphantly called my mom from the security line, jubilant at my own stealth.  Ha-HAA, I outsmarted The Man!  Take THAT.

*moments like this make me wish I had my own personal cameraman to document my life.

– – – – – – – –

So here I am, sitting across from my little nymph Greta in a coffee shop, working away.  Seattle still has a way of wrapping me like a hug, and making me feel more at home than anywhere else.

Piles of style

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

I’ve been bouncing in and out of Denver this summer – it seems like I haven’t been home for more than 3-4 days at a time before I’m packing up and heading out to the next destination.  Admittedly, I am the world’s worst packer, and always wind up packing way too much or way too little or way too… wrong.  In Portland last week, I unzipped my suitcase to find one pair of jeans, my running shoes, and a cardboard box of food.  That was basically it – hence the circumstances of having to wear my black racerback tank with a rainbow graphic eagle on the front.  To work.

But at least I had my baby carrots!

Last night at 11pm, I started packing for tonight’s trip to Seattle.  I walked into my bedroom and stared at my suitcase, and suddenly felt my brains sucking out of my ears until my skull was completely devoid of any logic.

“What am I going to wear?” I despaired.  “I HAVE NO CLOTHES.”

Hopeless Annie was about to win.  She was about to slide open a dresser drawer and just dump whatever contents therein into her Samsonite, and call it a night.  She was going to show up in Seattle and realize, “I have no shoes.”  She was going to be content looking like a vagrant in front of some of her dearest friends.

All was nearly lost.

But then.

Hopeless Annie was bound and gagged, and had a pillowcase thrown over her head.  By whom, you ask?  Assertive Annie.  Assertive Annie came out of nowhere, took the reins (as she is wont to do), and formulated a plan.

I do so love a plan.

I spent the next hour – yes, 60 entire minutes – trying on clothes.  Outfit after outfit, drawn from my closet – and when something “worked,” it was put in a pile on the bed.  I concocted combinations of clothing for each day in Seattle, from the shoes to the belts to the earrings.  I even made sure I had the right underwear for each pair of pants (bikini or thong? bikini or thong?).  And in my “extra” pile, I put a few pieces of insurance – the t-shirt that never goes wrong, the flip-flops I can wear if all else fails, etc.

I am ready for this trip.

I am prepared.

I think.

If this plan works – if I am able to successfully marry style and practicality from the articles that show up with me in Seattle tonight – then mark my words, I will post pictures.  Because when it comes to clothing, I generally have about as much panache as Pat Robertson has tact.

This could be a turning point.

Seattle love

Friday, February 12th, 2010

I am on vacation in Seattle, and my heart is so happy I could cry.

Last night, as Greta and I were settling in to go to sleep, she asked if she should wake me up in the morning.  In a moment of Shakespearean inspiration, what I meant to say was, “I’m sure I will rouse at the sound of you.”  But what I actually said was, “I’m sure I will arouse at the sound of you.”  We giggled.  I’m still giggling, actually – here at Zoka coffee shop, all alone, laughing at my computer screen.

I just finished running in the rain around Green Lake 4 times.  For those of you keeping score, that is 11.2 miles.  I am flabbergasted at my own resolve and dedication these days, because there was a time that I couldn’t run 4 laps around a track, let alone a 2.8 mile loop.

Sorry to not have anything more sparkling to share (although, seriously: AROUSE!).  But frankly, my dears, I have places to be, and a haircut to enjoy.  Happy Valentines Day!

Two years

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I left Seattle two years ago today.

Last year, I wrote a big dramatic soliloquy about my feelings.

This year, I honestly don’t know what to say.

I feel flummoxed.

But wherever you go, there you are.

Whatever that means.

I need both

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Nashville is a squeal of delight.

But Seattle is a sigh of relief.

Not alone

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Sometimes, I need help.  But I don’t like to admit it.  And if there is anything that I hate, it is feeling indebted to those around me – or, worst of all, a burden.  I value independence and cleverness and resourcefulness.  I like being in everyone’s good graces, and will do anything to make sure that I’m not asking anyone to go out of their way for me.

I am extra sensitive in this area because one time, several years ago, I took some friends up on something that they originally offered.  But something went wrong in the process, and I wound up being an inconvenience.  And rather than responding from a place of grace, they took a rather shame-based approach – pointing out each mistake on my part, blaming me for the disturbance, and even requesting me to write an essay about what I had learned from the experience.  They called it an “exercise.”

I still have those email exchanges, saved in a folder called “Hard Words,” to remind me to try to be gracious with those around me.  Words like that last for a long, long time.  (Incidentally, I also have a substantially larger folder called “Good Words,” so don’t cry for me, Argentina.)

Tomorrow night, I am heading to Seattle for a very, very quick trip.  Trips like this, where I want to pack in as much as I can without skimping on the people who are important to me, can be really stressful.  I want everyone to be happy.  I don’t want to spend 48-hours inconveniencing the people that I love.  I don’t want to leave, and arrive back in Nashville to an email that says, “Thanks for coming – YOU SUCK.”

But I should know this by now: my Seattle family welcomes me with open arms.  While many of my relationships have changed due to distance, it is silly for me to assume that my closest friends wouldn’t go out of their way to give me rides and host me and help me out; they would give me a kidney if I needed it.  Why is my natural assumption that I’m all alone in this world?

I’m not.  And I am grateful.

Seattle, I can’t wait to see you for a second.