The human experience of the Thin Mint Sprint

I have anticipated this 5K for a long time. My training started in November, paused for the Holidays, resumed in mid-January, paused in February for an illness caught from my daughter and then in March I dropped a 15-lb dumbbell on my toe, which is still a little sore and definitely swollen.

So last week, I could finally resume training, but new routines at work have made that difficult too. And my training partner and other half for this run is my almost-fourteen-year-old daughter who gave up on running weeks ago.

Three years ago, I swore I would get in shape before my fortieth birthday. And I did. At that time, I had explored some walk-run 5K events with my friend Gayle and found the Yuengling Lager Jogger. After the first year running for beer, I vowed to try and run my next one.

And two years ago (April 11) I finished the Lager Jogger is 44-minutes something.

Now, the Girl Scouts have hosted a fitness series of three events. I attended the orienteering style one at Camp Laughing Waters with Gayle and her niece and my daughter. My daughter planned to attend the second event, a walk-run through the camp, but she ended up with bronchitis and I wouldn’t let her attend the race in the race with a troublesome set of lungs.

Then Gayle registered me, the girls, and her nephew for the Thin Mint Sprint in Wissahicken/Fairmont Park outside Philadelphia. The sign “Welcome to Philadelphia” is on park grounds.

I have always wanted to run a 5K, and run it. It didn’t happen today, but I did shave two minutes off previous times for a new personal best. Well, except for the times in training that I came in at 38-39 minutes. That was when training was working.

But I want to tell some stories from the day.

And maybe start with some quick asides:

  1. The portapotties were nastier and covered with more human feces than anything I ever saw in Africa, and that includes facilities with no running water.
  2. Parking was awful but the park was so gorgeous it is quickly forgotten.
  3. There is a rustic coffee house IN the park.
  4. I’m sorry, but strollers do not belong in 5Ks.

So onto MY experience…

I love how other runners will say kind things to you.

The first half mile was physically easy but breathing was difficult. At mile marker one, I would have traded my first born for water.

I reached the road (that actually had cars on it) that the race route crossed WHILE TRAFFIC WAS STOPPED. The cars were waiting for us and backed up for what seemed like miles and I was part of that initial horde for whom officials stopped traffic. That was awesome.

I thought the first half was all downhill, so I expected, since the race was an out-and-back, the second half would be uphill. It also seemed to be downhill. How was this possible?

I had a lot of what I call “little disappointments.” I couldn’t get my new iPhone X to start MapMyFitness so I had no idea “how I was doing.” I felt most of the way, that I wasn’t performing as well as I had wanted myself to perform. I had to let go of those thoughts.

By the time I reached the finish line, pushing down that final hill, running… I saw the clock at 42-minutes something and I was overwhelmed. Not with any discernible emotion, just overwhelmed. Hot. (It was 80 degrees and I have never run in temperatures over 70). Dehydrated. (I drank 25 ounces of water before the race and the cup in the middle.) Tired. Proud. Disappointed. Happy. Crying. Smiling.

Thin Mint Sprint results posted…

Today we tackled the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania Thin Mint Sprint at one of the prettiest parks I have ever seen.

I refused to let myself think too much about the competitive aspects of the race as this winter has knocked me out: first illness, than a 15 lb dumbbell falling from the sky and physical exhaustion from changes at work.

And I’m 40-something with my own health issues. And I can’t get motivated to do anything when it’s cold.

I did an average pace of 13:48 minute mile. Far cry from the 8 and 10 minute miles of the serious runners but at 42:49.5 it was my fastest 5k to date.

It was an amazing family event with so many good snacks from Whole Foods and such enthusiasm from the event staff.

My goal was to break 40 minutes. I didn’t get there; but I did improve my time compared to my performance at the Lager Jogger two years ago. I was 44-minutes something then.

Little Girl Feet

The travels have commenced. I’m successfully boarded on Amtrak’s 6:55 a.m. train, the Northeast Regional, my regular hook-up between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

  
My day started early, with a random phone call for the second night in a row from Pakistan. Don’t ask me who it was, I didn’t answer. Normally I don’t take my phone into my bedroom but I thought it easier to use it for an alarm rather than change the real clock. Even though I had the ringer silenced, the vibrating phone woke me at 1 a.m.

And because I am traveling today I had trouble getting back to sleep. Part of it may have been the cats hogging the bed.

At 4:11, I got up. Husband got in the shower. I went down for a glass of juice. I hear movement upstairs and sure enough, my eleven-year-old comes down the stairs.

To tell you the truth, I was happy to see her. I hate the idea of leaving those I love without a final round of hugs and kisses.

We left the house at 4:30 so we could stop at Wawa for coffee. Child was thrilled to get a hot chocolate. I was disappointed they hadn’t started making egg sandwiches yet.

We arrived at Gayle’s house. Gayle drove me to Philly, as I laughed at her stories of errant students and she laughed at my tale of my daughter helping me pack and her reaction to my many styles of underwear.

And now, after 20 minutes at the gate next to the business class dude who couldn’t stop talking for 30 seconds (“My father fought in WWII and was recalled for Korea.” “Did you know Jersey Mikes has hundreds of locations?”), I am on the train with a 20-something girl silently listening to her headphones.

En route: Djibouti prep with paperwork & underwear

The preparations for Djibouti continue. My husband and I use remanufactured ink cartridges in our home printer and we had a small mix-up with our latest order. This meant by the time we received the basic black cartridges we ordered, I spent two hours before work printing and sorting backlogged household paperwork. In addition to my state tax forms (filed federal online), my mother’s various taxes and her roommate’s taxes, I had to print my daughter’s Girl Scout camp paperwork and then my travel related documents.

I finally printed my visa application for the Republic of Djibouti, and using a brand new black pen I bought just for this occasion, I carefully printed my information in the blanks. You see, travel for me requires a hunt for good pens and new journals.

Every time I travel, it usually coincides with a fresh journal. I never really plan it that way, but it works out that the preparation and planning spur my desire to scribble down my mundane life. The journal that perhaps I’ve worked on for several months or even a year suddenly fills up.

I started a new journal a few days before I found out about this trip. Since it was an everyday journal, I used one a friend had given me. It has a nice folded in piece to mark your page, but the outside is an Eiffel Tower. It’s also lined, and I prefer my travel journals to be blank. This allows me the freedom to sketch (although I have no skill) or to use the page in creative ways.

For this trip, I wanted something small, as it the journal will serve only this trip, not my life-at-large when I return home. I found a little blank book with a ribbon and an accordion pocket in the back that measures about 3.5 x 5.5 inches and the layout is horizontal instead of vertical. This has me excited. The pens are PaperMate InkJoy. Ballpoint but with a smoothness, and crisp ink colors.

My printing endeavor included my train tricket. My flight leaves from DC and I live in Pennsylvania. My family will drive me to DC, and then they will have a lovely weekend in the Nation’s Capital before returning home for Easter dinner. My daughter has the key sites listed: the zoo, City Target, the Ethiopian restaurant (which has a certain irony since I will be very close to Ethiopia), and the bakery Paul. On the way home, I plan on hopping the Northeast Regional from Union Station and meeting the family in Philadelphia.

Then, early last week Amtrak announced a sale— $38 for travel between DC and New York City. The tickets had to be booked by March 20, and travel had to occur before May 1. Hooozah! Saved about $15 on my Amtrak ride.

My next priority involves obsessing over my suitcase. I will dedicate a blog entry to my suitcase when I finally embark upon that phase. I’m not bringing many clothes. It’s going to be hot. I’m going to be sweaty.

I bought two camisole/shaper garments to wear instead of my normal bras. They will offer consistent coverage and support without padding or underwire to irritate me. They also increase my modesty as my blouses are so light and flowy that these camisoles act as second shirts.

I decided I’m not bringing home my soiled underpants. I realized in the last few years that most of my underwear is aging, almost ten years old. I usually select my best underwear for traveling but this time I’m taking the ratty stuff and throwing it away when I’m done. Yup. How first world of me.

My girlfriend, who lived in Texas and has survived more than one hot summer, advised wearing shorts under my long skirt to prevent chafing. I hate shorts. Don’t own any. Any I certainly don’t want too many extra clothes under my skirt. But, I do like the concept. So, I checked out the men and boys underwear at Target. I figured I’d be a large or extra large boy, and they had a large selection of dark colored and cartoon figure boxer briefs. They seemed too heavy. I went with the traditional white men’s boxer. My husband and I wear the same size, so I can give them to him when I get home.

Or keep them, and run around the house this summer in my “Djibouti attire” of camisoles and boxers.

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