Almost a year ago Mike Hammond deleted me from his friends list. This past weekend he added me back on. This was somewhere in the middle of him grumbling about how I misrepresented him in my blog about Boston Marathon ("You and Charles dropped deuces too!"), coaching Lauren on her epic *pineapple*, harassing Wineglass volunteers on my lawn, and sleeping in my sun-room. He explained his reasons outside in the dark, where we stood like a pair of illicit moonlit lovers. It was followed by hugs.
That in a nutshell encompasses my previous year (maybe with less poop jokes). I lost a lot of friends, or at least I thought I did. That happened while I was in the middle of buying a house, a difficult and prolonged process. It happened while I was suffering through terrible health issues that landed me in the hospital (but CaT scans are fun!). During one of the most stressful and trying times of my life, I often felt alone (except for one magical person). It was a result of miscommunication, allowing things to balloon in my head (as I'm wont to do), and at least one person who wanted to actively hurt me.
This past weekend I realized that I still have a huge amount of love in my life, many many people who care about me. Wineglass weekend has always been an incredible experience for me. I had no idea what it would be like this year. I thought that it would be comparatively reserved: A little bit of running, a few polite hugs, no big deal. I wasn't really sure where everyone was at, and I didn't want to place any expectations. I love my friends and fellow runners, but there had been a lot of drama and hardship in the past year. I thought it would be a quiet weekend.
I was wrong.
|You were wrong.|
It was an amazing weekend. Wonderful people swarmed my house and filled it with vegan snacks, laughs, and love (the laughs and love were also vegan). Stories were told, tears were shed, friendships were rekindled. I was blown away. I had allowed the malice of one person to infect my soul, and I hadn't realized how much damage it had done. In speaking with these amazing people, I realized that they hadn't resented me. They'd been just as bewildered as I by the whirlwind of BS that had swirled up. There still exists some hurt, but the weekend did a lot to heal it. There was a lot of beauty of the heart, and I felt whole.
That's a long and sappy intro.
After last year's Wineglass, Lauren was looking for a place to stay this year for her first Wineglass. I of course offered my house. I didn't actually own the house yet, but I'm not one to worry about trivialities. So first I had to buy a house. Check! Then I had to renovate a spare bedroom for her. Errr, that took a while and the spackle job is awful and I definitely needed lots of help, but check! Then I stuffed it with stolen (borrowed!) furniture so it looked like a bedroom. Phew! I was ready to host a single guest.
Then two more people came to stay.
Wait, scratch that, three.
No wait, four.
I told them all to go sleep in the port-o-potty across the street from me. No! Of course I told them all to stay. I didn't care. I wanted all the lovelies!
|Port-O-Potties were a popular attraction...|
First Jenn and Michael, paragons of planning (cough), needed a place to crash. My mystical fey accomplice and I did a rush job on the other unrenovated spare bedroom to make it livable. Air mattress. Pow! Hastily purchased used chair. Boom! Curtains. Whammo! They're two of my favorite people in the world and I would make all sorts of exaggerated promises to lure them to my den. Success!
Marti arrived with Lauren and asked if she could stay too. What? Yes! Lauren described Marti as her "safety blanket" and I wouldn't deprive her of that. You see, Lauren had driven from Illinois to Indianapolis (I just looked up what state that's in... Don't judge me!). Then the two had driven a million miles to get to Corning. Shawn had offered her his home, but he was 40 minutes away. He'd also had some challenging times lately and she didn't want to put him out. Shawn is an amazing and generous person, and anything I can do to reduce his burden I will gladly do. I told Marti and Lauren, I hope you two are OK with snuggling! They were.
And the last person.... hold on! Just wait.
The four guests arrived at about 5. Shawn was hosting a dinner at the Central in Painted Post. Instead, everyone first demanded to go to the Confluence Running Store to get slick Wineglass shades. Apparently they were selling like hot cakes and everyone was feverish to get a pair. Who am I to argue! In fact, they were so eager to get there, Michael ran a red light. He promised to write a letter to Corning regarding the confusing lane markings: Nobody in particular, just "Corning", as in, "Dear Corning, I was so flustered by the lanes that don't go where I thought they'd go, I turned on a red light that said no turn on red. It made me slightly anxious for a couple seconds. Sincerely yours, Michael xxxooo."
Disclaimer: I delve deeply into hyperbole and will admit to no actual traffic infractions.
They bought sunglasses.
We showed up to the Central fashionably late. There were two large tables outside for the many LUNAR folks who gathered. We ate, socialized, and got devoured by mosquitoes. It was a feast for all. There were a lot of self-professed introverts present. I made sure to harass them the most. Runners are super cool. I find that their passion for running makes them passionate in life. They're such vibrant and positive people, even the ones who trek out of their homes but once a year. The waitresses were super accommodating, so I made sure to shower them with silliness as well. The food was delish, and all-you-can-drink water? Bonus!
We came back home. We were family and it felt like home. We kept eating and talking, and stayed up way too late. At some point, Lauren and I went on a 2 mile run. That was more exercise than I'd planned, but I wasn't going to see some vagabond abscond with her. Jenn and I discussed her labia some more (er, labrum...). Curt also came to hang out, so it was a big warm group. Jenn and Michael went to Wegmans for snacks (#1). They love Wegmans (or "Weegmans", as Mike Hammond calls it).
Friday was the first time that Jenn and Lauren - the "twinsies" - met. They don't look anything alike, except that they each weigh less than an overstuffed suitcase. They have the same birthday though. We waited with baited breath to discover that they had been secretly switched at birth, but no, they weren't born on the same day. We reconnected and sucked Lauren into our vortex of giggles and absurdities. Lauren was nervous about the race; she had been training super hard all year. The rest of us were pretty blase about it (as evidenced by lack of sleep and snack choices).
I have a note here that says "port-o-potty". There was a port-o-potty across the street from me. Ummm.... Let's bookmark it for now.
Curt had invited me to bike Saturday morning to spectate the Corelle 5k. In lieu of getting adequate sleep after a late night, I set my alarm and joined him at 7:30. We encountered a number of familiar faces and cheered on the runners. Shawn ran with his wife Kim, and Jeff - the Mayor of Everything - and many other swell folks. It was a great time and I only got splattered by a couple stray water cups. There was one point we almost got chased off the road, but we survived. We'd volunteered last year but it wasn't going to happen this year, so we had to resort to wheeled tomfoolery. I later apologized to Sheila for our trespass but she didn't seem terribly upset. I got lots of hugs though!
Curt, I think we're in the clear!
I recognize that I make lots of inside jokes, and seem to make light of maybe serious things. I love Wineglass, as does Curt and everybody else who congregates in Corning for this incredible weekend. I want to participate and support the community as much as I can. I'm indifferent to status seekers, which (rarely) irks some of those who go through the trouble to don a reflective green vest. I've worn that green vest and blown the cheap whistle with its broken compass. I'd like to think that the LUNAR family makes WG weekend extra special. I love seeing people with smiles (or grimaces) on their faces accomplishing amazing things they didn't think were possible.
OK, back to the levity.
By the time I returned, my non-voluntary cat sitters had roused themselves. Well, I guess I can't call them cat sitters if there's no cat. You see, she had sneaked out the door and f*cked right off into the darkness. She did eventually return, and immediately fell in love with all the ladies. That turncoat! Anyway she was gone and everyone was worried and we all went for a 3 mile run (non-sequitur ftw).
|"She's mine now." ~ Lidka|
While I was biking, Jenn and Michael went to Wegmans (#2) and bought me a waffle iron. Then Jenn made us waffles. Many many waffles. We planned to go to the Expo, but first we had to wait for Mike Hammond to arrive. Surprise! Yes, I told him he could stay. He said he could sleep in his car. I told him if he was going to freeze, he might as well do it in my sun-room.
Mike was Lauren's coach. He'd planned on surprising her at the finish line of the marathon, but his schedule allowed him to arrive earlier. Lauren's discussion of his coaching style presented the word "pineapple". Michael still doesn't know what it means, so I will keep it a secret from you too. Just know that the word pineapple was used many times throughout the weekend, and always amidst fits of laughter.
In fact, when he walked through the door, I expected Lauren to shout, "pineapple!" It was a nice surprise. We barely gave Michael a moment to catch his breath before we went to the Expo. We encountered a lot of folks there and did the Expo thing. I discovered that the story of our clandestine bike ride was spreading like wildfire, which was sort of amazing; in fact I even overheard the ghastly story myself being relayed in the kind of voice that's usually reserved for campside ghost stories. I saw Burt Yasso at the Expo; he recognized me by my kilt and we fist-bumped. He'd also run the 5k that morning. Awesome guy.
I ran into Meghan there, which was a treat. I believe she too has felt like she lost friends over the past year, for related reasons. My cohorts and I all spoke of her with love in our hearts and wished we could've spent more time with her. It pains me that distance had been created in our family. There are some connections that I fear may never be repaired; those will be great losses. Anybody reading this who feels alone; you're not. Many of the demons we envision are illusions and propaganda. I'll avoid singling anyone out though.
For each painful moment, there were a hundred wonderful ones.
We all got together at the Raddison afterwards for a LUNAR meet-and-greet. There were familiar faces, new faces, and faces that were missed. I teased Lauren about being a terrible introvert. I teased Siobahn about being a terrible introvert. In fact, I noticed that quite a few runners consider themselves introverts. I certainly do. One fellow in particular, Tony, was so terrified of coming out that the only person he said "hi" to last year was me. I was half-conscious on a bench at the time (a common occurrence). He came to the Raddison Saturday and we all saw his handsome face. Love this group.
We talked a lot. We snacked. There were chocolate chip cookies that were super salty. Like, someone had used salt instead of flour. I joked that they'd be perfect for the runners at mile 22.
"Hey boss, we're out of sugar."
"Just put in something that looks the same."
Eventually it was time to get everyone together for the group photo. Shawn told me to rally the troops. I think he expected me to walk around, politely insert myself into the conversation with a "pssst, I'm terribly sorry to intrude; your story about pooping at mile 15 sounds fascinating. Just an FYI, we're going to take photos soon! OK, have a great day!" That's.... definitely not my style. Instead, I yelled out loud, my voice reverberating throughout the entire hotel, "PHOTO TIME." Shawn's reaction can be described as surprised-but-not-surprised.
We went outside and took some photos. I sat on the ground with my legs spread eagle. Aria suddenly got very concerned about whether I was wearing underwear under my kilt. After the photo we... stayed there, for another hour I think. I zoned out. My social juices were drained. I finally made an effort to extricate my cat sitters. Turns out they'd all been ready to go eat, but had been too polite to do so. Go figure. Maybe I should have yelled "DINNER TIME." We went and got burritos.
We returned to the house to eat, some of us anyway. Lauren, Mike Hammond, and Marti vanished. I still don't know where. Jenn and Michael went to Wegmans (#3) to get super absorbent...... things. And Halo Top. After we all regrouped we hung around and discussed which college football fans are the worst. I didn't know you could get your car keyed for being from the "wrong" school. Then Michael went through Lauren's race plan for the following morning. Pineapple. He had her entire mile-by-mile pace breakdown typed out. Pineapple. He told her if she ran a sub 8 on her last mile, that would be great. Pineapple pineapple pineapple.
We noticed a couple volunteers stop outside the house to plant a sign for the water drop. Mike Hammond went out to cause some trouble. "Did you get permission to cross this lawn?" He boomed. Deer-in-headlights look. He smirked. Death glare. He then tried to follow with polite conversation and failed miserably. Mike returned and relayed the interaction. I was surprised-not-surprised. Mike has very little in the way of a filter. Pineapple. That's why we love him. Also, I'll probably be blamed.
|All sorts of shenanigans happened.|
We again stayed up too late. Some of us were nervous wrecks. Some of us were still blase. Jenn and Marti and Mike Hammond were spectating, so they were just cheerful about not running (#jealous).
Sunday we said screw the race and slept until noon. At least that's the dream I had. We were all up by 5. Coffee bubbled. Bagels and bananas were devoured. I apparently was nervous enough to have six (6!) poops, not quite a record. Michael had to resort to the Port-O-Potty (Carrie said it made my place a 1.5 bath house...). None of us were like, "omg it's marathon time!", except Lauren, who was effervescing pineapples. Mike Hammond came out in running cloths and for a moment she panicked that he was going to run with her. He was just going to run back home after dropping us and the car off.
It was still dark as we crossed the bridge to get to the buses. We ran into Chris #DD and got mucho hugs. This year he was volunteering. Last year the bus had me, Chris, Michael, and Carrie. This year it was me, Carrie, Michael, and Lauren. It was the anniversary marathon for me and Carrie. The whole weekend had been delightfully sprinkled by her presence, like an ephemeral sprite. I tried to recall our conversation from last year and only remembered "barnacles." Lauren was worried that it was going to rain, but Carrie told her it was just "drippy fog". It was a bold-faced lie.
Of course, I insisted the rain would stop by the time the race started. I checked my weather app. I spoke with authority. The whole time we hung around at the race start they were convinced the rain would stop. They were like, "Peter knows! He wouldn't trick us!"
We kept our robes on for as long as we could. Yes, robes. Carrie lent Lauren Chris's bright orange XXL Ragnar robe, which she drowned in. The two ladies were bright orange beacons that I could see from a mile away. I never lost them. We encountered Curt, Dawn, Aria and Jeff at the race start. We were all wet and excited. At the last minute we stuffed our robes into our drop bags and rushed to the start. I punched through the crowd with Carrie and Lauren following in my plaid wake. Then the race started. Eek! I yelled at Sheila and we were off!
It rained. We ran with Lauren for a couple miles before her super legs carried her away. We ran the very familiar course, making the same old jokes about how stupid we were. Our promises of "never running again" were obvious lies and brought little comfort. It rained. The crowd of runners was very dense. We darted around like gazelles trapped in a pride of lions. People cheered. We spotted Meghan and Geoffrey at about Mile 5. It rained.
That sounds depressing. I was having fun. Running a marathon for me is about the people I'm with. The race itself is just a long run, but the people make it cheerful and energetic. That's why I pick Wineglass every year: For the people. It certainly isn't for the weather!
Jennifer caught up with us in Savona. She had messaged me a few months ago about pacing her. I couldn't commit to that as I knew I'd be running with Carrie, but it was nice to bump into her. Carrie stopped to pee after many comments about how nice it would be to have a penis. We continued. It rained.
|Car is definitely a better way to go, or at least drier|
I hadn't trained for a marathon. I knew I had the endurance; I'd done Lake Placid 70.3 just 3 weeks prior. My legs though weren't used to that much nonstop running though. Between 22 and 23 they were hurting. I have another marathon in two weeks, so rather than risk injury I just told Carrie to go on without me. She was having a fantastic race and had a real shot of beating 4 hours. That surprised her. She'd been unhappy with her training and wasn't expecting any magic, but she was going strong and didn't want to stop!
I slowed down a lot and took it easy. I had no goal. The three Wineglass marathons I had run prior had finishing times of 3:14:30, 5:42, and 3:59.... sooo, it didn't matter much. Right next to my house, Curt caught up with me. He saw I was struggling and stuck with me. I kept trying to take breaks and he didn't let me. We encountered a man running with his wife on their 26th anniversary, on the same date that they had met. He was running around in circles and yelling jubilantly; she was just trying to survive. It was cute.
The last few miles of the course were different than last year. It no longer crossed the tombs of kings (Kingsbury Ave.). Having moved to Corning, the neighborhoods were familiar, and made the end seem much shorter. Before we knew it, Curt and I were crossing Bridge St. As we turned onto Market St. we both picked up our pace until we were sprinting to the finish. It wasn't a race. We just wanted to finish strong, with love and pride in our hearts. It rained.
Then I was done.
Then the awesomeness swept me up.
Carrie had figured as long as she beat 4:25, she'd be OK. She not only beat 4 hours, but she beat her last year's time by almost two full minutes. It was ridiculous. It was stupid. It was impossible. She was laughing. She got hugs from Chris and many cheers.
How did Lauren do? You already know because she's been shouting it from the rooftops. She BQ'd. She finished under 3:35. Her previous PR was 4:11. That's a ridiculous improvement! She annihilated the race. She was a kid in a swimming pool of candy. She couldn't contain her joy. She almost froze to death, but a quick visit to the Med Tent, with Martha snapping and growling at the medics to treat her "daughter" right, fixed her up. We all congregated at Poppleton's afterwards with huge grins and space blankets. The mood was euphoric!
Mike Hammond couldn't repress his joy. He cried big fat tears. We were all overwhelmed. When one of us achieves something amazing, we all celebrate. Their hug stretched out so long that I finally said, "Pineapple!" I understood: It was like watching his own daughter succeed. Eventually most of us headed back home. Lauren, Mike and Martha took an extra half hour. Apparently Poppleton's had to make her an extra special coffee, brewed from the nipple secretions of mystical unicorns.
We collapsed, only stirring ourselves to take turns showering. Shawn invited us to a get together at his house. He pushed it back 2 hours and we were still an hour late. I showed up in sweat pants; everyone else dressed nice. I gorged myself on tacos and pizza and fruit. I made vague attempts at socializing. I crashed into a lady and splattered the world with dressing. The guys sat outside for a while and got eaten by mosquitoes. I watched Lauren be an ecstatic celebrity (introvert my a$$!).
We gassed out pretty quickly and headed out, leaving the food table a half eaten disaster. Kim offered me leftovers and I just stared, dumbfounded, unable to process the concept. We got home and Michael and Jenn immediately went to Wegmans (#4). In the meantime, we threw a mattress on the floor, and when they returned we had a snuggle party while watching Scott Pilgrim VS the World. We also watched Lauren pop the world's largest blister. It was like a blister that had a foot attached to it. I took a 3 minute video. There was plenty of oozing going around.
Marti and Loren had to get up super early to leave. I set my alarm for 5:40 so I could see them off, but they had already left, so I went back to bed. When I got up again, the remainder of us met Curt on Market St. for a shakeout run. It was slow and painful - a squadron of toddling penguins. Eventually everyone left, and I was left alone with my cat and a pile of snacks.
What an astonishing weekend! Thank-you Jenn, Michael, Lauren, Martha, and Mike Hammond for filling my house with affection, gross jokes, and Maxipads. Thank-you to Carrie for being responsible and making everything come together so all the guests weren't sleeping in my garage, and for being a heaping pile of divine wonder. Thank-you Shawn for making all of this love possible through LUNAR and your kindness and inspiration. Thank-you Curt for being such a noble human. Thank-you to the many many folks who make the running community so amazing. Thank-you to Sheila and the many people involved in making Wineglass the best marathon!