A couple of years ago, my mom and stepdad gave us a Samsung Chromebook because they had one and didn't use it and because we will never turn down a free computer. If you're not familiar with the Chromebook, it … Continue reading »

 

Stimeyland - 5 new articles




Stimey, Tech Genius, at Your Service

A couple of years ago, my mom and stepdad gave us a Samsung Chromebook because they had one and didn’t use it and because we will never turn down a free computer.

If you’re not familiar with the Chromebook, it is basically an all-online computer so it is handy for email and Google docs and stuff. It is also the type of computer that my school district uses for everything in school. Because of this, I plugged in the charger next to the table where we do homework and fire it up to check assignments, work on projects, and check school email. It is super handy.

Or it was super handy until I opened it up one day to find this:

Photo of a broken computer screen.

That’s not…right.

I immediately closed it and put it back where I’d found it because if I know anything about fixing electronics, it’s that turning them off and ignoring them for a few days will almost always solve the problem.

Frankly, if you avoid pretty much any problem for long enough, eventually it will go away.

It turns out that Chromebooks aren’t one of those problems.

When I opened it back up a week or so later, the screen was still broken. Curses. How could that be? I let it sit for multiple days. Multiple.

Step two of the Stimey plan for fixing electronics is to burst into tears and hurl said electronic into the trash. I made a quick decision this time to take positive action instead.

It was a pretty radical approach.

It turns out that if you invest, say, four or five seconds Googling a problem, you just might find the answer. I found a link to a video of a guy replacing a Chromebook screen and then discovered that you can buy a replacement screen for, like, 30 bucks on Amazon.

Soon the screen showed up in the mail and I let it sit for several days because, well, it is an electronic item and I thought it would be a good idea to let it stagnate for a while—like a fine wine or a Chromebook screen you want to magically start working again.

When I finally got my nerve up to sit down and start ripping the Chromebook apart (seriously—ripping; there aren’t even any screws holding the screen casing together), I took a lot of photos because I thought it would turn into a funny post about how I destroyed a computer and electrocuted myself at the same time, but it turns out that replacing a Chromebook screen is really easy.

I pried the casing off, unscrewed the six screws holding the screen into the Chromebook, screwed back in the two screws that were actually holding something else into the Chromebook and were unrelated to the screen, and set about to unhook the cable that attaches the Chromebook to the screen.

This is where I ran into my only trouble. There is a tiny little handle that you’re supposed to yank on to separate the cable from the screen, but that handle is practically invisible so I yanked on the wrong thing and exposed some wires that were heretofore covered before I found the tiny handle, but it didn’t seem to damage anything and I found the handle prior to actually yanking the wires out of the connector, so it’s all good.

Photo of the connector cable. There is a little wire handle about an inch long with a yellow flag on top that I'm holding.

So, yeah, it doesn’t look so tiny here, but that little yellow flap was, like, tucked under something else. Also, is anyone else super distracted by the fact that there are crumbs on the keyboard? Why must everything always be dirty?

I attached the new screen, screwed it into the computer, and spent about 30 seconds re-shoving the casing over the screen where it clicked happily into place. I held my breath and pushed the power button.

Photo of my fixed screen.

Hold on a second while I finishing filling out my job application for the Geek Squad.

Dude, you guys, I FIXED A COMPUTER.

Naturally, then I had to pry apart the old screen to find out what exactly a computer screen is made of. It turns out it consists of four different kinds of stiff plasticky film and a screen of indeterminate material. There is also a little circuit board that you can pry off and give to your kid.

Quinn holding a green strip of circuit board.

This now lives in his room.

Quinn wanted to keep all of the pieces of the broken screen, but that seemed like starting down a slippery slope that would end with boxes of broken parts strewn about our house.

Frankly, we don’t have any boxes to spare for that because all our boxes have been confiscated by our cats.

Starfire the cat sitting in the shallow box the screen came in on top of some bubble wrap.

Ooooh! Bubble Wrap! Extra cushy.

Jack took the bubble wrap from the box the screen came in, which also seems like starting down a slippery slope, this one ending with trash littered around our house, but it seems hard to fight that result.

I still haven’t figured out who broke the Chromebook in the first place, which really seems like a waste of my yelling abilities, but I guess the satisfaction of having done something new will have to be my only reward.

        
 

Not Running Around Houston

We all know (because I won’t stop fucking talking about it) that I went to Houston to run a marathon. That said, I only spent six hours of my time there running the race. What else happened in Houston, you ask? Well. We all know that what happens in Houston does not stay in Houston, so I am here to tell you about the great fun of a visit to my mom without my kids for several days. (Spoiler alert: It was awesome.)

I flew out on the Wednesday before the marathon because I wanted some time to get used to the climate and also because do you have any idea how many kids I have? Sometimes it’s nice to get away. (Just kidding, Alex!) I also, without going into too much detail, wanted to give my gastrointestinal system time to…let’s call it “normalize” prior to the race.

Check, check, and check!

I headed to the airport after work, where I was informed by the TSA that their little scanner had registered a “chest and groin anomaly,” which seems problematic, but could apparently be fixed by having every part of my body touched by a gloved TSA agent.

Then I went and ate a delicious hamburger for lunch at the terminal gate where I learned that my plane was being delayed because something about a cargo maintenance inspection and there was some placard that needed to be displayed and there was some confusion as to whether that placard was actually there and they needed to have someone drive over from another area airport to check on it. In my mind I was all, “I would be happy to give you a visual yay or nay on that placard,” but this was probably not what they needed. It turns out that my plane was one of four with this issue that day and at least two of the others had to cancel flights because of it, so I’m going to count myself lucky.

Then once we were on the plane and getting ready to taxi away, a flight attendant asked for two volunteers to go sit at the back of the plane just during takeoff for “weight and balance issues” and I immediately had some questions like, What happens if the weight and balance is off—like, is that a crashable offense? and Shouldn’t that cargo maintenance inspection placard have taken care of this issue? and lastly, Is this plane’s design so precarious that its ability to become airborne is dependent on the weight of two individuals and where they sit?

Why must there always be a problem, right? Anyway, I napped for a long time and then woke up to really pretty clouds, of which I took many photos, and all of which look exactly the goddamn same.

Photo of clouds and part of an airplane wing.

Also, none of my identical photos really capture how pretty it was, so altogether a worthwhile enterprise.

All in all, it was quite an eventful afternoon.

My mom and stepdad (Richard, remember?) picked me up, took me to dinner, then drove me to their home, which they had designed and had built themselves a year ago. Let me tell you, if you ever want to feel bad about your house, go visit someone who basically built their dream house. It is beautiful.

The next day we drove into Houston. My mom and Richard offered to drive me along the marathon route so I could get an idea of what it was like. I thought that was really nice of them because the only thing that sounds worse than running a marathon is driving the course in late afternoon traffic.

Incidentally, slowly driving a marathon route in a big city is a fantastic way to accumulate Pokemon.

Photo taken by me from the backseat of a car. I'm holding a paper with the race route on it. Richard is driving. My mom is in the front seat.

Additionally, it is a great way to see every part of the city!

I am actually really happy that they did this for me. We didn’t drive the entire route, but it was nice to know what was coming and how far I was when I got to certain landmarks in the race. It was more helpful that I realized it would be to know what was coming up. Also, I was able to truly, truly understand that the course was flat—like really flat.

Furthermore, we drove past this most awesome sculpture in the entire goddamn world.


This photo of Goode Company Barbeque is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Yes, that IS a giant fucking armadillo. It’s hard to see in the photo, but it also has steer horns. There’s a whole story behind said armadillo, but mostly it is just a tremendous sight to behold. It is really something. Weirdly, when I was running my race, I passed it without seeing it. I had actually considered stopping to take a selfie with it during the race because, well, c’mon, but somehow I ran past without seeing it. You wouldn’t think that is something you could miss when you’re traveling past at foot-speed but evidently it is.

We were all exhausted after our long drive so we pretty much went home after that.

Friday I had to run my last training run prior to my marathon. I was scheduled for 2 miles on Saturday but I didn’t want to run the day before the race so I went on Friday instead. I wore long tights even though it was hot to get an idea of how warm it was.

Me waving at the camera as I walk down a driveway.

My mom took photos of everything. It was adorable.

I discovered on this run that even though it wasn’t super hot, it was humid and that kinda sucked it all out of me. I decided then and there to not run with my Camelbak because I wanted to keep my back clear to be cooler. It ended up definitely being the right choice.

After that, I went to the backyard where Richard was busy with yard work, bird feeding, and pretending to chop my mom into tiny pieces.

Photo of Richard holding big clippers and my mom recoiling from him.

He isn’t, by the way, British, appearance to the contrary.

Richard was also cultivating some poison ivy under those gloves from his last gardening session, something that caused all kinds of distress for him and mostly resulted in my refusing to touch anything he had touched until after my marathon.

My mom and I went to see La La Land that afternoon. Guess who goes to the movies at 1 pm on a Friday? Lots of senior citizens. There was a preview of a movie with Morgan Freeman being rakishly adorable, which killed with that audience. There’s been a lot of hype about La La Land and I wanted to see it, but I was partly prepared to hate it. It was, however, completely charming.

The afternoon’s film led to a discussion of movie musicals wherein I learned that Richard loves the movie version of Les Miserables and my mom learned that I’d never seen the movie version of Les Miserables, something that Richard corrected that very evening. (No, you’re crying.)

The next day was Expo Day, which my mom kept referring to as, “Jean needs to check in.” I was all, “We call it packet pickup, Mom,” and rolled my eyes, but she kept calling it a check-in, so that’s what it was.

We went early in the day, which meant I was going to miss seeing Meb at noon. That’s probably for the best though because it is likely that I would have just stood in front of his little autograph signing table repeating “Meb Keflezighi, Meb Keflezighi” over and over because once I hear his name, I can’t stop saying it. I’m doing it right now.

The expo was fun. I picked up my packet checked in and then we did some wandering around the expo. I was mostly looking for some ostentatious gear that said HOUSTON MARATHON in big fluorescent letters, but they only had subtle, tasteful clothing. Very disappointing.

There was a shirt hanging on the wall that said “finisher” and had a map of the route on it and it was really fun and I wanted it but they didn’t have it on any of the racks, but the one on the wall was in my size so I climbed up and took it down with the intent to purchase it. I found a jacket to buy (“marathon” is in really tiny letters—why?) and my mom offered to buy the shirt for me. We went to different registers where I successfully purchased my jacket and the guy told my mom that the shirt wasn’t for sale because that is the shirt they give to finishers after they cross the finish line.

It looked really embarrassing. I pretended to not know her until we were away from the booth.

We took lots of photos at the expo. Let me explain.

Photo of me standing in front of a sign that says "Go run Houston."

Hey look! There is a backdrop of some sort! I should stand in front of it and have someone take my photo!

Photo of me standing in front of a sign that says "Go run Houston." My mom is taking a picture of me.

While that someone is taking a photo, someone else is taking a photo of her taking the photo.

Photo of my mom holding up her phone to take a photo. Richard is standing behind her taking a photo of her taking a photo.

Now I’ll take a photo of them taking photos.

Selfie of me, my mom, and Richard in front of the sign.

And finally, because no one is taking a photo of all three of us, Imma need a selfie.

We are super embarrassing to go anywhere with.

My nephew had a basketball game that afternoon, where he was similarly well documented.

Photo of a cute kiddo shooting a basketball.

Unfortunately, my phone camera is not so good at the zooming in, but you get the point.

We stopped by his house afterward where I met his rabbit and the rabbit GROWLED at me. I swear to God. I have never heard anything like it. I crouched in front of it where it was sitting on a chair and he was all “I DO NOT LIKE YOU GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!” I didn’t even know rabbits could growl. Or hate. Sniff.

After this terrible rebuke, we headed back into the city to check in to our hotel. I had been all prepared for post-race hygiene by buying baby wipes to clean myself with and towels to sit on so as not to offend my family in the car after for the hour-long ride back to their house.

But at the front desk when we checked in, my mom was all, “Hey, can we have a late check out?” and magically we had a room until 3 pm the next day so I was able to shower before climbing into their car after the marathon. It may have been simple self-preservation on her part, but it was brilliant and I am very grateful for it.

I then forced my mom to walk with me to where my corral was going to be the next morning so I could time how long it took to walk there and then I had a question about procedure the next day that I’d already asked two people but wasn’t confident of the answer, so I made her walk with me back to the expo where I asked two more people until I felt sure I had the right answer.

(The runner info made it look like you had to go through the convention center in the morning to get through a checkpoint before you could go to your corral, but that seemed ridiculous so I wanted to make sure I could go straight to the corral and get through security there. It turns out that for corral E there wasn’t even a checkpoint at all.)

After our long walk, we went to dinner and then I went back to the hotel, showered, and was in bed by 8:15 for my 5 am wake up.

Then the next day I ran a marathon.

Afterward I showered and we drove home with a quick stop at the CVS for more poison ivy cream and a sweet gift for me.

Photo of me in a car holding a bear holding a flower.

Thanks, Richard! Love Bear lives on my office shelf now.

When we got back, I got into bed for a nap. I set my alarm for an hour and was pretty sure I didn’t fall asleep, but suddenly my alarm was going off so I set it for another half hour and was pretty sure I didn’t fall asleep for another half hour, but I’m thinking I probably did. And deeply.

My stepsister (Sara) and nephew (Elliot) had come over to spend the night. Evidently Elliot thought I was napping too long and should have been woken up to play Uno with them. Fortunately, calmer heads prevailed. I did wake up in time for dinner though. And did I mention my mom has a hot tub? If you’re going to run a marathon, you should totally get a hot tub. Highly recommended.

I wasn’t flying home the day after the marathon because when I made the reservations, my long run was, like, 12 miles and I had no idea how my body was going to react to being forced to run 26, so I gave myself a day to hang out before I flew.

We hung out with Sara and Elliot that morning until they had to go do things. Left on our own, my mom and I made the day an exploration day, even if most of the exploration was mine because my mom apparently has already driven around the area where she lives.

First we went on a walk to the marina in her neighborhood. (She lives on a lake.)

Photo of me and my mom at a marina in front of boats.

Hey look, Mom! It’s that boat you love in the background! (Private joke.)

We then drove a few miles away where there is a left turn and a right turn. The left turn goes to a small town that my mom and Richard go to a lot. The right turn had a sign that gives the name of another small town 17 miles away. We had gone out to dinner in the first small town a couple of nights before and when we passed that sign, my mom had told Richard that she wanted to check out the other town some time. (Foreshadowing.)

We turned left and my mom gave me a driving tour of the town—the grocery store, the post office, the restaurants, the museum that looked exactly like a regular house. Then we found something she’d never seen before.

Photo of a well with a bucket. There is a statue of a white goat standing next to it.

Yep. That’s a statue of the town goat. I love small towns.

Apparently that goat showed up in the town in the early 1900s and learned that if he hung out by the well long enough, people would give him water. Then he learned that if he hung out at the bar long enough, people would give him beer. It is unknown if or what the townspeople named him. Repeat: I love small towns.

After the excitement of discovering the statue, my mom was ready to go home but I insisted on fulfilling her dreams and demanded that she drive me 17 miles each direction to the other town. If one town had a town goat, God only knows what the other town would have.

Turns out it had a very run down main street and a guy sitting by his driveway who eyed us suspiciously as we drove by.

Photo of several store fronts in rough condition.

No statues in sight.

There were also two different signs that promised historical markers four miles away, but they were both lies and we never found anything historical. Frankly, I don’t know why my mom insisted we take that drive all the way out there.

All was not lost though because there was a fudge shop near my mom’s house that she’d never been to and, because I’d mentioned it on our way out, she was determined to stop there on our way back. Unfortunately, she didn’t remember that until after we had passed the turn, so she had to back up in the turn lane so we could get our candy. Because fudge.

Photo of my mom driving and eating fudge.

It was worth it.

Altogether, it was a completely worthwhile adventure.

But we were not done with our day, oh no. We still had to go get me my sopapillas and margaritas, which I had insisted upon as a condition of running a marathon. Happily, my mom and Richard knew a place where I could get both.

A close up of a margarita and some sopapillas.

I think the waiter was taken aback when he took our order and I said, “We’re going to need some sopapillas for the table immediately,” but he brought them and they were plentiful and delicious.

Because Houston was experiencing some sort of weird fucking heatwave, we ate on the patio. I had to take off my jacket because it was so warm. Fucking Houston.

Selfie of my mom, Richard, and me.

I’m wearing the finisher shirt I got after the race. I hear someone tried to buy one at the expo.

And that was it. We got up early the next day so I could go to the airport. I considered wearing my medal, but settled on wearing the race shirt.

Photo of me at the airport curb wearing a shirt that says Chevron Houston Marathon.

The shirt isn’t that exciting, but at least the word “marathon” is in big letters.

You’ll be happy to hear that my chest anomaly had gone away by this time, but sadly my groin anomaly remained. Seriously. What is that about? I did some looking into it online and it sounds like these scanners are all kinds of problematic for trans people, which is really unfortunate. I’m not sure what happened with me though, especially twice on the same trip when it’s never happened before. Maybe I’ll wear different pants next time I fly.

Anywho, I returned home safely where I was immediately assaulted by the day to day realities of public transportation, responsibility, and parenting teenagers.

Thanks for the adventure, Mom and Richard!

Photo of Richard and my mom.

Next time I’ll bring the munchkins too.

 

A List of Things Alex Did

You know how at celebrity award shows there is always some doofus who wins an award and then thanks everyone from her makeup artist to her lawyer but forgets to mention her partner, arguably the most important person of all?

Well. When Alex read yesterday’s post where I thanked everyone under the sun including a stranger who handed me a banana, he was all, “Too bad Alex didn’t help at all.” Then he threatened me with bodily harm if I tried to change the post after the fact.

I AM SO SORRY, ALEX. YOU ARE THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS.

Let’s take this opportunity to pretend that I had planned this post all along and I will tell you all of the wonderful things that Alex did to help me prepare for my marathon because seriously guys, I couldn’t have done it without him.

Photo of alex in a suit giving a goofy thumbs up.

Look how cute he is!

• Whenever I had a long run and only ran one direction because routes away from my house are downhill and routes back to my house are uphill, he came to pick me up.

• Sometimes he came to pick me up in really unfortunate places, like Georgetown on a Saturday night or next to the zoo during Zoo Lights a week before Christmas.

• When he picked me up, he would suffer through the stinkification of the car when I jacked the heat way up and sat really close to the vent. Trust me, that’s award-worthy right there.

• He let me structure the entire family’s schedule around my training calendar.

• When a family-related activity conflicted with my training calendar, he stepped up to be the parent-on-call.

• He let me go on a long run every Saturday when I would be gone for hours, then he let me come back and take a nap.

• When I had to get in a run, but knew I wouldn’t have time after work, he let me run in the morning and he would get all three kids ready for school and get them on their buses.

• He was my best cheerleader, never doubting that I would be able to run a marathon and making sure he let me know that.

• He put a ton of extra effort into leading the family when I was training. In terms of putting in a lot of work for something that had no direct benefit for him, he really stepped up.

• All actions including but not limited to the above mentioned activities.

AND

• When I called him after I finished last week’s marathon and asked him if it would be okay if I ran another one this fall, without hesitation he said yes.

Thank you, Alex. I love you.

 

Houston, We Have a Marathon

If any race deserves its own race report, it’s my first marathon. Last Sunday I ran my very first 26.2-mile race, the Chevron Houston Marathon.

Spoiler alert: Marathons are Hard.

Photo of me standing in front of a convention center with my arms upraised. The marquee reads " GRB Welcomes Chevron Houston Marathon"

I *think* “GRB” is the name of the convention center. It seems like a lot of work to look that up.

Before I get into how the race went, I’ll tell you of my original goals for it. These goals would change later in the race, but that’s okay. Originally I was hoping to run a 12-1/2 minute mile pace and I planned to run the entire race except for walking through water stops.

I ended up with an average pace of 13:23/mile, which is okay. That kept me under the official cutoff pace of the race. I ran until mile 20+ when I changed to some walk/run intervals for the remainder of the race. I really have no idea how much of the last five miles I walked, but I’m guessing it was probably two to three miles. I finished in 5 hours, 56 minutes, and 8 seconds. (That’s a long time to ambulate, by the way.)

But before all of that happened, I was up at 5:15 am and cheerfully waiting in my hotel room for 6 am to roll around so I could head over to my starting corral. I had gotten rooms for me and for my mom and stepdad (henceforth referred to as “Richard”) so we could be near the start line in the morning.

Photo of me sitting on a couch drinking a Diet Coke. I look cheerful.

Look how happy and blissfully unaware of the six hours to come I am.

I was set to start in Corral E, which was the last one. My family was nice enough to get up with me and walk over to the corral at 6 in the morning. I spent the next 45 minutes circling, fretting, stretching, and going back and forth from porta potty line to porta potty line.

Me standing on a street corner with my stepdad. I'm stretching.

This is me stretching. My stepdad wouldn’t let my mom take a photo of me in the porta potty line.

The weather is generally very mild for this race, but this year it was warm, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s and high humidity. Thankfully it was overcast so at least there wasn’t much sun for most of the day. A few minutes before 7 I shooed my family away and wormed my way into the throng to wait for the start.

I waited, looking around as usual and then I had a thought. “Jean,” I thought to myself, “This is your first marathon. Take a minute to breathe it in and remember what it was like.” So I stopped and breathed it in and then I wormed a little farther ahead to get away from the porta potty and then I breathed it in again. Then I couldn’t stop smiling.

Start time was 7am, but I didn’t get across the start line until 7:30ish. That’s when I stopped smiling and got down to bizness. Bizness didn’t last long though because I passed my mom and Richard after about a quarter of a mile and my smile came back when I high fived them. Also, my name was on my bib, so bystanders did a lot of yelling of names and every time someone said my name it made me smile even more.

As I mentioned, it was pretty humid (by mile 2.5 I could already smell myself, which is never a good sign), but it was F.L.A.T., so going was good for the first section. There were lots of things to look at and the crowds were fantastic. There were people everywhere and they were all so nice. There was also Gatorade and water every mile and a half or so, so I drank a lot of liquid.

The first 8 or so miles the marathon ran with the half marathon, so there were lots of people. It felt amazing to take the right turn leading to the marathon route when we split off from them. That felt like a big deal. Suddenly there were a lot fewer of us and it felt different and kinda awesome.

There were also suddenly no lines for porta potties, so I took advantage of that, which also made me feel different and kinda awesome.

It was quiet along that stretch without a lot of spectators. I knew that the course would shortly pass my stepsister Sara’s church and I was hopeful that she would be out with her kiddo, Elliot. Sure enough, at mile 9, Elliot’s dad was suddenly there running alongside me, videotaping me as I passed Sara and Elliot on the corner.

It is amazing how much seeing my supporters on the sidelines affected my energy and pace. I was still feeling pretty fresh at that point, but still I perked up and headed off with fresh gusto.

There’s not a lot to report for the next few miles. I ran. That’s about it. I continued to hydrate. I was finally able to put on my sunglasses after a bystander handed me a tissue and I could clean the fog off of them (my clothes were entirely wet with sweat by then). Volunteers passed out wet sponges at mile 11. I encountered my first hill at mile 12 (freeway overpass), which is also where I saw a half marathoner trudging the wrong way along the course. I spent some time thinking about how awful it would be to take a right instead of a left and end up in a 26-mile race instead of a 13-miler.

I also passed my favorite sign right around the halfway mark. There was a man standing quietly by the side of the road, not shouting or cheering, and holding a small white sign on which was written in small black lettering, “You are doing good.” The simplicity of that sign made me smile for a long time.

Then it started to pour rain. Because we wanted ALL the weather that day.

At mile 15 I ate my Snickers bar, which did not melt, thank you very much, just in time to be captured by Richard’s camera as I rounded a corner to find him and my mom cheering.

Photo of me running. It is raining.

See me sucking Snickers bar out of my teeth there?

It was here that I decided to take my first break to stretch a little and also to ask my mom if I had chocolate on my face, because it is embarrassing if you are a chubby runner and you have, like, a peanut and a smear of caramel on your chin while you’re running a race.

Me bending over stretchng.

I look a little bit like I’m ready to barf here, but in fact I was stretching.

Sadly the rain had made my sunglasses unusable again, so I stopped to use a porta potty again and to use toilet paper to clean them off. The sun also came out, which was nice, but hot. This was the hottest part of the marathon, although it’s possible that I just stopped noticing at some point. The race had started under a yellow alert because of heat and humidity, but by the time I finished it was at red.

It was also around this point that I started to notice my mile splits were getting longer. I had been maintaining about a 12-minute mile for the first half marathon, but it was about here that they started getting longer. It looks like for my next marathon I’ll have to run longer more often during training.

I kept chugging along, although mile 16 and 17 were where I started to notice an upset stomach, which I think makes sense. I’d been expecting it. It was nothing too major, but just noticeable enough that I started to be more careful about what I consumed, trying to strike a balance between fueling enough and not, you know, puking on the course.

I’d expected to see my family once on the run, so it was a wonderful surprise to see them two or three more times on the route. They were so fantastic. I hope they know how much their presence meant to me. I loved seeing them and high-fiving them, although the last time I saw them at about mile 24, I did not want to spend the energy to veer away from the middle of the road to slap their hands, so I just mouthed “OH. MY. GOD.” at them and continued on my way.

Photo of my mom, Elliot, and Sara, taken by Richard.

See? Wouldn’t this cheer you up too?

My longest mile by a lot was mile 20. It took me 16:42 to traverse that section. I had started to feel a little light headed and so I slowed down and took time to stretch. It was also during the last quarter mile of mile 20 that I first took a walk break. I had badly wanted to run the whole marathon, but I was starting to realize that I could finish the whole thing or I could run the whole thing. I didn’t think I could do both. I felt a little demoralized about it, but decided that adjusting goals due to my condition was not the worst thing in the world.

I continued doing walk/run intervals, trying to run as much as I could. I also took a brief sitting break at some point to let my legs enjoy a bent position for a minute. I knew that even with my readjusted goals that I wanted to cross the finish line under six hours though, so I tried to keep hustling as much as possible.

At mile 23 I was trudging along near the side of the road when a stranger looked at me, looked at my bib, and said, “Jean, do you need a banana?” I nodded and she handed one to me. “Take little bites,” she told me.

That woman was my spirit animal. She got me, you know? She really, really GOT me.

Me walking in the last miles of the marathon.

I credit that banana with allowing me to smile when this photo was taken very late in the race. I wanted to pick it up and run past the photographer, but then decided a walking photo was an important record of this race for me.

Speaking of people by the side of the road, the bystander support at this marathon was phenomenal. Even when it was raining there were people out there. There were fantastic signs. There were people handing out pretty much anything you needed and often exactly when you needed it (tissue, banana, OMG those pretzels I ate at mile 17). I can’t even tell you how many people cheered specifically for me. That is a little thing, but it means a lot.

And I really needed all of that because by the end, my legs and feet huuuuurt. My earbud and the fact that music continued to play out of it was almost offensive to me. (At some point I realized that since I was only listening in one ear, I could switch ears. Brilliant!) A couple miles before the end, I reached for my waist pack and realized that my forearms were tired. My forearms. They hadn’t done anything. I guess I’ve pinpointed the wussiest part of my body.

Then, just as we were approaching downtown again, probably two or three miles out, a headwind started up. And I was all, “FOR FUCKING REAL?! Now you’re ACTIVELY pushing AGAINST me, Houston?” It was messed up.

Nonetheless, I persevered. I cannot even tell you what it was like to enter the city again. They were letting pedestrians by at one of the cross streets and I swear to God, if the traffic control hadn’t stopped people, I don’t know that I would have been capable of stopping myself from barrelling right through them. Because once I entered the city, I committed to running until the end and nothing was going to stop me.

Photo of me running. I look alright.

I know this was taken right near the end because of those barricades and also because I’d finally ripped out all of my earbuds altogether.

I actually look kind of all right in that photo. I look much less like I wanted to die than I felt in the moment. Finally it was there—the finish line, which I triumphantly crossed after 5 hours, 56 minutes, and 8 seconds.

Photo of me crossing the finish line. There is a digital clock that reads 6:28:35 above.

Ignore the clocktime. I didn’t get across the start line until 31 minutes or so.

Here is video of me lurching over the finish line and then immediately slowing to a walk.

 

My family was right there after I crossed too. I don’t know how they got there, parked, and forced their way to the front of the crowd, but they did and I got to see their smiling faces just after I finished.

I am going to run other marathons and I hope to run them with better time and endurance, but I am so proud of myself for this one and I am so grateful that I got to do it with my wonderful Houston family. Thank you. This marathon was an incredible experience and I am so happy with it.

But even though I had finished, it still wasn’t time to rest. I had to wander through the finish line area and pick up my finisher shirt and beer mug. (Really? Glass? They are lucky I didn’t immediately drop it what with my weak-ass forearms.) Then I had to continue through the long path through the convention center until I could get to the runner reunification area.

There was a woman walking in front of me and she was dragging her gear bag on the floor behind her. I sped up a little bit to tell her “The way you are dragging that gear bag is exactly the way I feel right now.” She looked at me kind of desperately and said, “It’s so heeeeaaavy.” We understood each other.

I had planned to meet my family under the “J” area at runner reunification, but unfortunately they were arranged in ranges and figuring out that “J” was between “H” and “L” took longer than I thought it should have. Then my family wasn’t there yet, and I spent some time turning slowly in circles and reciting the alphabet to make sure I had it right.

Suddenly though, they arrived and they were so congratulatory and my mom even hugged me (I wouldn’t have hugged me) and I felt so happy.

Photo of Sara, Elliot, my mom, me, and Richard.

My crew. <3

From there I only had to walk, like, a mile back to my hotel where we had late checkout so I could shower. Fortunately, my mom is brilliant and (along with requesting said late checkout) had brought a space blanket, which saved my life on the walk back. We walked along the race route and cheered on the last few racers.

Me wrapped in a silver blanket.

Not to mention that I think maybe space blankets hold in some of the stink.

I did it, you guys. But I didn’t do it alone. Thank you to everyone who cheered me on via Facebook and here. Thank you to everyone who texted me the day of the race—my waistpack kept buzzing as I was running so I knew you were in touch even if I didn’t see the texts until later. Thank you to my running friends at home who encouraged me through all of my training. Thank you to my mom, Richard, Sara, Elliot, and Ashley for your support on the course—you have no idea how much it meant. Thank you to Houston for hosting such a good marathon. And, perhaps, most of all, thank you to that lady at mile 23 with the banana.

Photo of me after the race holding my medal and grinning.

Marathoner.

 

Viva la Résistance!

Just like so many of you, I went to the Women’s March on Washington today.

What an amazing thing. People marched all over the world. The magnitude of the marches was incredible. I am so proud of protestors for standing up for what they believe. It was a joy to see all my friends on my Facebook feed and their photos of the march or their messages of solidarity for those of us who were able to go.

The idea of going into DC with a gazillion other people pretty much sounded like my worst nightmare, but I wanted to add my body and my voice to the crowd. (Calling congressional offices to express my opinion also sounds awful, but I’ve been doing that too. I hope you are as well.)

Fortunately, I found a couple of good people to go with: Sam and my friend Sunday.

Photo of Sam, Sunday, and me at the Women's March.

We were a good team.

We were going to try to meet some other friends, but it was completely impossible to get anywhere there. By 9 am, we’d wormed our way up to the side front of the crowd, but then discovered that our friends were (of course) on the opposite side of the street.

We did see Jesse Jackson though.

Photo of Jesse Jackson at the march.

Sam: “Who’s Jesse Jackson?” Urgh. I needs to do some edumacating. Once we got home I gave Sam an assignment to research both Jackson and Gloria Steinem before Monday.

The three of us spent a lot of time wandering around through the crowd. We saw a lot of great signs. We saw so many beautiful people. We witnessed nothing but courtesy and friendliness. We were able to hear some of the speeches, but there were so many people there that it was difficult to see the big screens or hear.

Photo of a sea of people in front of the capitol.

So. Very. Many. People.

We did not, however, see food. At some point I realized that I had my child with me and I should feed him and also, maybe more importantly, feed myself because I was hungry too. We then began to wander with a little more direction. Unfortunately when there are so many people crammed together, there is no food without big lines. Eventually we found a CVS and made up a lunch of potato chips, cheese sticks, nuts, and candy.

Photo of Sam sitting on a railing eating a handful of chips.

Am very good mother.

We spent some more time walking around and talking. After standing in the cold for so long, it was starting to get chilly. I had told Sam to wear a coat, but he insisted that his sweatshirt over his t-shirt would be fine. I tried to insist, but he was having none of it.

Sometimes I hate being right.

I bear hugged him for a long time to keep him warm but then he finally took me up on my offer to trade his tiny, thin sweatshirt for my awesome, warm coat.

Photo of Sam wearing my coat with the hood up.

Am VERY good mother.

At some point after one, we began to look for a bathroom. Because it was, you know, a women’s march, there were like 15 porta potties and a thousand people in line for each of them. Our trek led us near our Metro station and since we were pretty tired by then and Sam was definitely ready to go home, we decided to head out.

We didn’t know it at the time, but there were rumors that there were so many people at the march that there was no longer any room for an actual, formal march. I think people might have marched later, but we were there until 1:30 or so and although there were definitely people marching off the published route, the main march hadn’t started.

It was absolutely exhausting, but I am so glad we went. Thanks to Sunday for letting Sam and me tag along at the last minute.

We all know that one protest march isn’t the answer. There is a lot of real and tangible work to be done. But it is a powerful symbol. And today was powerful indeed.

 
 
   
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