Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Letter to Nagymama

Two weeks ago, my family all re-gathered in Los Angeles for a memorial for my grandmother, April 14, 2012. We did the same with my grandpa died, because he died in Hungary too; there's still so many friends and close ones that are in LA that they knew while living in the States, so I think we'd hoped it be a closing for everyone. I anticipated this would not be easy -- far from it -- but I also hoped that by being at home, with people who had known me since the day I was born, that it would all make it a little more... real. And it did.

Below is my eulogy, if you will, that I gave at her memorial. I wanted to blog it just so I could keep it and have it to re-read whenever I needed.


Some of you may know that I'm a writer -- blogger, journaler, and have been as long as I can remember. I remember, during our first visit to the new house in Velence in 1993, writing about how much I loved the new house "with the bumpy driveway," as the driveway was still on gravel and un-paved.

Last month, I was sitting on the plane coming home from Budapest, and I did it again. Just started writing memories of Hugary, that house, and Nagymama, just for safe-keeping. It was mostly so I wouldn't cry the whole way home, but I'm glad I wrote those down and now I get to share a few of them with you. Some are things that everyone here might know of, some might just be for us to chuckle at, but I think a few will be of typical Nagymama behavior.

I think one of mine, and I can probably say 'our' favorite things were trips to the arboretum. We'd stop at the Wonder Bread factory, by armfuls of the "must-go" bread, and we'd go feed the ducks and peacocks as we pleased. She loved that place so much.

I remember, as a kid, being bribed to each spinach, only while we actually got to watch Popeye, as she convinced us that eating the spinach would actually work.

Sometime while Marika and I were in high school, she had the four of us granddaughters come over for lunch on New Year's Day for split-pea soup; she told us it was for good luck in the new year. You might know I'm not exactly the culinary adventurist of the family, so I probably pretended to eat it but instead listened as she told us the entire story of how she and Nagypapa met.

My freshman year of college, she bought me Hilary Duff's new CD for Christmas. Not because she had any idea who Hilary Duff was, but because she was pretty and she thought I looked just like her. I was appalled. It's still in my CD collection and I guess now is a good time to open it.

Trips to Hungary, especially the last one when I was 14. I can understand enough Hungarian to make sense of a conversation, and while I don't always know every word, I could always tell how proud she was of her whole family whenever she talked about us.

Nagymama, we love you, we miss you so much already, but all I can hope is that we can continue to make you proud. <3


Friday, April 27, 2012

Race Report: ZOOMA Women's Half Marathon

 Half Marathon #2!
Buford/Lake Lanier, GA

Needless to say, this training cycle had been anything but easy. Between an unexpected trip to Budapest for 12 days, Tina's bachelorette and wedding weekends, and flying to LA for Nagymama's memorial the weekend before this half, there wasn't much time for breathing, let alone running.

If only I had known that this crap-tastic training cycle was going to foreshadow this run...

...I'd have quit while I was far from being ahead. Oops. I read about three weeks ago a comment from someone on some running forum somewhere that if you haven't trained properly, to not attempt a race like a half. Maybe I should have listened - however, despite not having ran a significant amount of distance in the last few months, I felt physically strong enough to make it work. I knew I probably wouldn't PR, but heck, I'd at least finish another half-marathon. And that's still exciting, right? Right. So, in my head, I say, "Bring it on!"

I mean, seriously, training fail. The red line follows the weeks of this cycle.
I need to get the guts to finally go run a big race so I can experience a full-fledge, crazy large expo (I mean, I'm sure looking forward to Disney's in November!). Though I will say that until I get comfortable with these races, it's kind of nice doing a smaller venue, smaller show, smaller race. For now!

So, much like the Callaway Gardens expo, this one was well... in a smaller venue, but had a few more vendors out. Folks from Trek Women, Skirt Sports and Muscle Milk were around, in addition to a few race folks from the 13.1 Atlanta Half in October (on my list!). Not a ton to see, but just enough to keep me entertained. 

I would have liked, however, that packet pick-up had more than two options - it was either only in Atlanta on Friday night or at the resort on Saturday. Well, driving an hour and a half each way on Saturday just for packet pick up is kind of annoying, especially when there wasn't a ton to do at the expo itself. Just my thoughts!

But then I walked out of the expo and found this:

 How amazingly beautiful, right? I knew I was in for a treat even if I walked the entire 13.1 miles on Sunday. The resort is just unbelievably gorgeous. Saturday was a little hazy, but the resort still showed off just enough to get me pumped up. On the way home, ran a few errands and stopped at IHOP (great choice, I know) for my standing two-time pre-race meal: a patty melt and fries. Mmmm.Super heavy carb-loading was pasta throughout the week... maybe a few more times than I should have!

Race Day
The forecast throughout the week showed, for the longest time, rain on Sunday morning. I was not excited about the idea of running in the rain for 2+ hours, but figured it'd at least be an experience! Saturday afternoon cleared up well enough and the forecast showed some rain here and there for early Sunday morning, but race-time showed sunny weather - success! Well, about 1:30 am, woke up to the loudest rainstorm I had heard in awhile; no thunder, no lightning, just the hardest hitting rain. And then I thought we were out of luck for Sunday's supposed sunny weather.

Again, given that my drive was an hour and a half to the race (I guess that's one good thing about timing it on Saturday), my 4:50 alarm came wayyyy too early. I was out my front door by 5:15, using my long bit of car time to eat breakfast, jam out to early-morning radio to calm my nerves and wake up.
Perfect race morning.

This race was smaller than Callaway - I think I heard about 1,000 runners in total between the half and the 5K, but we had no idea how many for just the half. Looking around the crowd, though, it was definitely a smaller crowd than I'd anticipated. After perusing the ZOOMA website though, it appears that almost all their races are capped between 700-1,200 runners -- smaller atmosphere is the way to go, maybe?

I hung out under the pavillion for a little warmth with a few others. I felt really awkward, having come to the race with no one and had no one there as my support team. So I sat, stretched by myself, talked to a few random folks. But let me tell you, whether it's your first race or eight-hundredth race, I can only imagine it's always easier knowing you have someone at a mile marker or at the finish line waiting for you. I pretended I had someone there. It wasn't quite as effective!
Pre-Georgia race #7!
I contemplated leaving my jacket on - it was still really cold (about 55, I'd guess) before gun time, but at the last minute decided that it was going to get warm enough, the sky was crystal clear, and surely, I'd warm up in no time. At least I was right about one thing that day. Gun time started at promptly 7:30, and there it was! Race time!

Miles 1-4ish
It took a little while to feel in the zone. The last 4 or 5 runs I had done around my neighborhood (all ~3 miles or so) had all been super speedy, which I was really excited about, but I knew that my regular problem is charging out way too fast at races. I hung between the 2:10 and 2:20 pace leaders, thinking that maybe if I focused, I could still get a time that hovered around my Callaway time. Apparently, at some point, I got well ahead of the 2:00 pacers and was somewhere just behind the 1:50ers -- I am really not sure how that happened, but managed to keep it up for most of the race. Yes, even through the disaster (spoiler alert). 

I found a groove somewhere around Mile 2 or so, near this amazing view, and slowly just started to let it sink it and enjoy the surroundings. Because, seriously, even if I walked the whole thing, I just paid to walk through the prettiest park ever. Just before Mile 2, we crossed over the bridge that you drive into the park over and go through the first round-a-bout -- that was probably the worst part about this race, 3 or 4 round-a-bouts, all with slight incline! Torturous.

Into Miles 2-4, we run back past the starting line (which was off the main road we were running on), and continue in the other direction. Mile 4 comes upon the resort campground, which looks gorgeous and is a must-check-out-in-the-future sort of place. Just beautiful, completely treed and eventually backs up into the water!

And then disaster struck, somewhere around Mile 4 1/2ish. To this day, nearly 5 days later, I am still not sure how. Part of it was the beginning of an incline up this road, part of it was that the road's asphalt wasn't always packed in, and had some pretty loose parts. So I found my face being hurled towards the ground, and thankfully for once in my life, my reflexes were quick enough to throw my arm out so I didn't land face-first in the gutter. And then I just ate it. Hard. And somehow managed to skid on the side of my hand into the gutter. There was definitely screaming or yelling in some capacity involved, as two women stopped to retrieve my water bottle and make sure I was okay as I got back up... slowly. They continued on, I thanked them for their help, and stopped... I think just in shock of what had happened! Trust me, and I know anyone who knows me would agree with this statement when I say I am far from the most coordinated person on the planet. So, really, it's no surprise; I just have no clue how this happened. Stopped for a few to check out the damage: hand cut up pretty bad, road rash on my knee... badly bruised confidence, which is bad for a girl who already wasn't super confident about this race anyway.

Mile 5-8
I walked a little ways up until just before the 5-mile mark, then decided it was time to shake it off and try and keep going. Truth be told, I thought of Katy Beth's biking disaster a few weeks back, who let it shake her a bit and then helped her realize she had already worked hard enough to get to where she wanted to be and why give up now? Shout out to KB for getting into my head on Sunday! I tried running... I tried. My knee hurt so bad from where the road rash was, that was still so fresh it stung to just bend!

Just before Mile 5 I started a jog. Not fast, but not walking either, and crossed the 5-mile split at 52 and change, so I knew I really wasn't doing too terribly! For most of the way until Mile 8, I walk/jogged most of the way, and just knew at this point, I'd be happy if I finished. I took in more scenery, and called that a successful enough day!

Miles 9-13.1
At Mile 9, we come back over the bridge (yep, two loops of this torturous route). Again, a pretty view, but at this point, I was just so ready to be done with it all! The mental game definitely took over and got the best of me this time. Lesson learned - train, don't fall, and don't give up.

Going back over the bridge.
It was also just around Mile 9, that the 2:20 pace leader passed me, and that was officially when I knew I was just in it to finish it - that was my goal for the year, after all. "Finish three half marathons." Who cared what the time was, anyway? So that's what I did... jog/walked the last 4ish miles.

Just past Mile 10, I saw the EMS folks, and paused to ask if they had more folks at the end or if they were it. They appeared bored and perked up when I asked and asked me if there was something wrong. I just held up my hand and said that I ate asphalt and just needed to get cleaned up; they offered to do it right there but at that point, I just wanted to get done! They said they'd be at the end and to feel free and stop by after I finished.

I passed the 13 mile marker and summoned enough strength to not finish in super-sprint mode, per usual, but run a little harder than I had since my spill. And that was good enough. I finished. Part of the fun of this race is that you get a sweet little necklace; it says "zooma 2012" on the back. I've been wearing it all week. :)
I still did it! Georgia #7!

Post-Race Fun
So... Barefoot Wine is one of the sponsors of this race and I was initially so excited about the idea! I had half my glass and was just so tired I couldn't even think about drinking anymore. It may have also been the stinging sensation in my knee and hand, but who knows. "Lunch" was a mini bagel and cream cheese, apples, and two hard-boiled eggs. Not substantial, but enough to get standing again to make it back to the shuttles and my car! They had also advertised that there would be massages at the end, but again, not sure if they were really there or not. The post-race expo was on a beautiful hill overlooking one of the small peninsulas. I'm glad I sat there for a few just to breathe, take it all in, and appreciate it before the hurting really began.
From the side. There's a little pavilion down there where they had a band playing!
I waddled my way back towards the finish line where EMS said they'd be waiting. Just the woman was off to the side, watching runners come in and cheering them on. I walked up to her with my hand, still bloody obviously, and smiled and said, "Can you clean me up now?" She goes, "Wow! You really did eat asphalt" and proceeded to get me to sit down and cleaned me up. Her partner walked back over and tried getting me to curl my fingers and wiggle them to make sure I didn't do any worse damage than all the cuts. He grabbed my three middle fingers on both hands and says, "I'm a little concerned..." and basically explained that my hand felt exceptionally cold, which was a sign of poor circulation which possibly meant I jammed my fingers real good or potential hairline fracture(s). Awesome sauce. He basically then told me I needed to get my hand checked out, and they would transport me if need be (um, no thank you) but that yes, I needed to get it looked at today. Crap. So he immobilized my fingers and hand and they sent me on my way -- back to the shuttle, where I was the point of conversation once folks saw my hand!
The hand saga. Cuts, wrapped, unhappy, and splinted.
My plan was always to hit Chipotle on the way home - there isn't one in Athens (yet) and after burning 1,300 calories, I deserved a 1,500 calorie burrito, yes? Yes. Well, YOU try eating a Chipotle burrito with one hand!... I did it anyway. Not pretty, but oh... so delicious.

I then drove back to Athens, MapQuested an urgent care, and stopped there on my way into town. Doctor x-rayed my hand, heard my pathetic little story and said he was concerned about the way I landed on my hand (not that I knew how), and that there was a potential hairline fracture at the base of my thumb. So they cleaned me up (again) and splinted my hand for 10-14 days. Torture -- especially that I'm right-handed! So, there was fun to be had this week, certainly, and definintely made stories for Monday at work. I wish I had had a better story... zombies, some crazy girl tripped me... but alas, no.

The Update
I went to the doctor again on Wednesday night.My hand had been tingling since Tuesday evening; while I thought it was for awhile that I was wearing the brace too tightly, even when I'd take the brace off for 20 minutes and lay there, I still had this feeling. Like, as if my hand were "asleep" and the tingling sensation you get when it's "waking up"? Only... all the time. I saw a different doctor on Tuesday, who also looked at the x-rays and said she saw no fracture (!). But she said that my hand was considerably swollen, and the tingling sensation was normal, given how much pressure the nerves in my thumb were under since that's where most of the swelling is. So, she said...
No more splint!
These cuts and bruises still hurt real good (especially the ones on the side of my pinky), and my pinky is actually quite bent and strange looking, but... you know. I think it'll get better. Moving on.

Final Thoughts
  • I guess you might be curious what my finish actually looked like:

  • My hand is okay... just hurts a lot. 
  • Lessons learned: train, be serious, don't fall, don't give up. I am proud that I at least didn't give up, given that everyone I talked to (after the race and at work) were amazed I'd pushed ahead and actually finished. As I said, "You don't really need a hand to run!" I had a hand, it was just a little tore up. Whatever.
  • Shake it off. I can find a new race, try again, run again, and be fine. Spills will happen, but I can't let it get the best of me, or I'll always be mentally defeated. 
So... I finished. Half marathon #2, in the books.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dear Monday...

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dear monday, you came a little too quick this time.

dear zooma womens half marathon crew, thanks for a beautiful race! those hills were a little more 'rolling' than i anticipated, but gorgeous nonetheless. and what a perfect day!
zooma womens half -- half marathon #2!
dear hand/thigh/knee, i'm sorry. i still don't know what happened at mile 4, but thanks for working with me and allowing me to do all 13.1.
dear family, 51 days until we cruise! excitement ahead! (who am i kidding? excitement already!)

dear molly, i'm really enjoying that you're sleeping in my bed again. i've come to the conclusion that that's why i've slept better the last 5 nights than i have the last two months. please stay cuddly and loving for awhile... my sleep depends on it.

dear body, please stop hating me soon. again, i'm really really sorry.

dear runners everywhere, recommendations for a good half marathon in ga/sc/tn for june or july? yes, i self-impose torture.

dear all, have a wonderful day!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dear Monday

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dear monday, thanks for getting over with quickly.

dear weather, continue doing what you're doing! being able to run in a breeze at 7:20 pm was nothing short of glorious! love it. keep it up.

dear family, i can't wait to see you again on friday. while i wish it were under better circumstances, i'll still take a weekend in the comfort of hugs and laughter over not being able to be there at all.

dear eulogy that i'm supposed to be writing, i wish it were easier. i have lots of memories and certainly lots of thoughts, i just don't know how to get them all down in a coherent way... and one that will allow for minimum sobs while i'm at it.

dear half marathon in 12 days, while i'm not excited that you're almost here (yet), i am feeling after that 6-miler on saturday. bring on the next two weeks... bring it!

dear draw something, thanks for providing me endlesssss hours of new entertainment. i love you. thank you for also allowing me to perfect my doodles of furbies, rockets, airplanes, and the united states.

dear super fun silver french mani, please last all week. for one, you're fun, for two, at least til wednesday for our silver-and-blue awards program, and for three, i don't feel like doing my nails again before i head home.

dear everyone, have a great week! :]


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dear Monday...

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dear monday, sorry i'm a day late in acknowledging your presence. i wasn't happy with you yesterday.

dear april, thank you for starting off better than anticipated. the news last night made the wait worthwhile.

dear sadie sue, we're so glad you're going to be okay! medicine for life won't be the most fun, but i'm so glad we don't have to go through the pain of losing you. <3

dear spring in athens, you are gorgeous, please stay around forever.

dear ankle, keep healing quickly please! biking feels good, but i'd like to get a few runs in too!

dear zooma half marathon, how are you only 19 days away?

dear family, i can't wait to see you again soon. not for the best occasion, but i know it'll be okay if we're all together.

dear kroger, please keep this fabulous fruit in stock! i can't get enough right now. pineapple makes me smile.

dear credit cards, i WILL overcome debt this year! not all of it, by far, but i will be victorious! eventually.

dear week, keep getting better. :]

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Race Report: The Color Run - Atlanta

So for the first time in nearly six (yes, you read that right!) weeks, I don't have a bag packed to go anywhere. It boggles my mind all that's gone down in the last 6 weeks, and truly, I think I'm still internally processing all the emotion that has gone through my head. But this isn't about sentimental stuff, this is about the HAPPIEST 5K ON EARTH (true statement), The Color Run!

If you haven't heard of the gloriousness that is the Color Run, here's the low-down: it's a 5K race, all for charity. Each city has its own specific benefactor, so in the case of Atlanta, it was for Children's Network Hospitals (#FTK!). The only rule for the race is that you're required to wear a white shirt. At each K, there's a load of volunteers gathered up to throwing paint powder (what we learned is colored cornstarch) at you, and literally dyes you as you continue along the course. In your race packet, you're given a color packet of your own, and there's a giant paint-powder-throwing-party at the end for all the participants. AMAZING. So... here goes our fun!

I will start by saying that after a few rough weeks, this was exactly what I needed. Happy times. Join me on our photo adventure of the day!

The Atlanta Color Run was all around the perimeter roads of Piedmont Park, which is this gorgeous hub in downtown Atlanta, and home to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. It's absolutely gorgeous, and we got an even more gorgeous morning for the run, given all the rain we got on Friday. So this was pretty exciting as it was -- great weather, and a race we have been waiting for for MONTHS? Perfection. Heather and I were saying we felt like we registered for this race years ago, even though it was only in January.


Three sorority sisters, minus one. We found her later!

Already pumped.

Team Flair for Theatrics, ready to go!
 I'm not really sure how our group got so large, but really... it was awesome. I had mentioned the Color Run to Jennifer, who I met way back when at the Madison Christmas 8K. She got our team going, and two of her friends signed up. Then Heather joined up, as did two of our sisters, Andie and Mandi. Andie and her (real) sister joined, and a friend of hers. I then got my boss all excited, and his wife joined too! Then the grad that I work with, Jeff, got all pumped and he joined TOO. So much awesomeness in one team.
Team CSO - me, Josh, and Jeff.

Jennifer, racing friend!

Our friend's post-race powder packet started to leak, so a few of us got eye pink before the race started. :)
 So one of the major downsides (if you can call it that) is that there are SO many people coming to do this race... while the race starts at 9 am, it takes nearly 45 minutes to get everyone through the starting point. Can you imagine? We learned that every 5 minutes, they let about 1,000 people through -- do the math, there had to be at least 10,000ish people there yesterday. Insanity. We didn't get through the starting banners until 9:45, and there were at least two more groups' worth of people behind us! So crazy!

It kind of made me more antsy, because there were people already done by the time we were just starting -- so we got to watch the color cloud appear in the valley of the park while we stood there, still clean and white. Torture!

I will say, that this isn't exactly what I would call a race -- unless you were in one of the first two or three groups to get started, this was a brisk walk/jog (jog if you were lucky!). Bottlenecks definitely got a little crazy before each color tunnel, so it was mostly a walk. But a good one at that, given that I haven't ran much at all lately. Let it also be noted that for these facts, the Color Run is NOT timed. :)
Do you SEE that massive cloud of powder!

After yellow (1K)!
 Another unfortunate part of where the race happened was that it was on a few major streets around Piedmont. So we got a full street lane to ourselves, plus the side walk. Some areas got so congested you had no choice but to get back on the sidewalk.

So after yellow, I jumped back on the sidewalk and landed in one of the patches of grass that dipped a little bit, and promptly rolled my ankle when I landed. Not awesome. It didn't hurt too badly to finish (walking/jogging) the run, but lord does it hurt today!

All greened out.

After pink -- pink throwers were by far the best people there. They made sure they got you from head to toe.
 As the caption says, the pink throwers were by FAR the best!
All I see is color. :)

Giant powder paint party at the end -- SO much fun!
 So right as you turn the corner from purple, you get corraled through the end into the giant paint powder party. Cue opening your packet, and just jumping up and down, dancing and throwing your paint powder in the air - SO fun! We had teal, so that was super exciting (who doesn't like adding a new color to the mix?!).
Our shoes turned out pretty too!

This is one of my faves from the day.

I just reall thought the asphalt looked neat.

Team OPA, all colorfied.
Tebowing at purple.


Team CSO, after.

Not gonna lie, I used to REALLY want blue streaks in my hair. Now I've got 'em.
It was quite the adventure getting home (make sure you bring towels in your car). We stripped nearly everything off on Heather's porch just to be sure we didn't color-fy her whole house while we were at it. Powder had gotten through my shoes, through my socks, and dyed my feet pretty well - my toes and heels are still purple today. 
The Color Run pre-race information also suggestions (especially for folks with light hair) to use oil or dry shampoo/condition on your hair. I'm sure glad we did dry shampoo, given that the teal streaks stayed pretty well -- I can only imagine what they'd look like if I hadn't prepped my fresh blonde highlights (oops!). Today, the four blue streaks I have make it look like I'm five years old again and spent too long in a chlorinated swimming pool (so you can imagine, really, the teal looks like faded green today).

If you have the chance to still sign up for your city's Color Run -- do it!

Like I said, after a rough few weeks, this was a great way to turn things around! Definintely worth the hype, the chaos of the morning, and waiting 45 minutes to get anywhere! Back to nursing the ankle -- I've got a half marathon in four weeks! Wish me luck! (And I promise I'll be around a little more often)