Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Another baseball term

My brother was waiting for us and taking pictures at the finish line. (My mother and grandmother had stayed at mile 21 to cheer for a while, and then went home to wait for us there.) He and Deanna helped me stretch, and carry my things, and listened to me gush about how much less sore I was this time than after Anchorage. The three of us eventually managed to meet up with David, Rachel, and Brent (you've seen the pictures) and we sat on the grass, stretched, and gabbed for almost another hour. The weather, when not running, was actually gorgeous.

Everyone was starving, but I was determined to go to the ocean and let my legs soak in the cold water. Since we didn't really know where to go that was near the finish line, we decided to drive back to the beach near my dad's house. The traffic was still pretty bad, and I almost gave up, but I'm so glad I didn't.

I think there will always be a part of me that wishes I'd managed to keep running, and that I'd hit the finish line at 4:30. That wonders what would have happened if I hadn't stopped to walk through the aid station at mile 19, or if I'd thought to carry a couple salt packets with me. That wonders how the race would have been different if the temperature had been 10 degrees cooler, as it had been in previous years, and that calculates how if I'd shaved 30 seconds off this mile here, and that mile there...

But that's pointless. I can always come up with a calculation that would have resulted in a better time, and hell, if I'd run 4 minute miles, I'd have set a world record. Even if I had finished in 4:30, that same part of my brain (the dumb part) would probably be wondering why I didn't hit 4:22. It's the part of me that, when I'd get a 96 on a paper in high school, wanted to know where I'd lost 4 points.

I did the best that I could at every step of the way, and, for once, that's good enough for me. I can't swear that I'll never run another marathon ever. But right now, I don't want to.

I leave for Senegal a week from Friday. And Peace Corps sent me a letter inviting me to teach English in Cameroon, starting in June.

I'm not exactly sure if I'll end up doing Peace Corps. And I have even less of an idea of what I will be doing in Senegal. But I'm pretty excited to find out.

I plan to keep posting in this blog, but I imagine I will write less about running, and more about Africa. I hope you'll all stick around and keep me company. I'm going to need it.

In that vein, I'm going to ask a favor. I know there are a few people who read this blog, and don't comment. Which is totally cool. I hardly ever comment on other people's blogs. But I'm curious to know who you are. So I'm asking all the lurkers to say hi. Tell me where you're from (be general--I'm not trying to stalk you). Do you run? Ever been to Africa?


Blogger AnnekeS said...

Okay, I admit it, I lurk... but get a kick out of your observations "one of the ugliest things I will never part with"

I'm in Minnesota.

I run, but on a smaller level - my biggest accomplishment to date is a half marathon.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Mica said...

De-lurking to say I love your blog and writing style - I'll still check back even though you'll be writing about a new topic....Safe travels.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

You can't lose me because I just love reading your tales of adventure. Africa is going to be one heck of a story started, dontcha think? :-)

4:10 PM  
Blogger JustJunebug said...

I am not a lurker, but I wanted to post because I just finished the recap(s) and somehow you make me cry. Its as if I could feel the pain you had going on down in FL.

Still great though!!

4:13 PM  
Blogger jeanne said...

I'm a lurker. I lurk. I like saying lurk.

I CANNOT believe you are leaving on Friday!!!! WHERE did the time go??? the endless weekends we spent together? the long walks we took. ...the small cafe, the park across the way, the children's carousel, the chestnut trees, the wishing well ....
(get a grip, jeanne.)

I'll be seeing you.
I'll be looking at the moon, but i'll be seeing you....
god, i love that song)...
(P.s. your blog needs a new name....)

4:27 PM  
Blogger susie said...

Great recap, Naomi. A wonderful race and well told. The best of luck to you on your next adventure. I know it will be a blast. Take care....see you on the blogs.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I guess I'm a lurker :-) I used to be much more of a runner than I am now...once spring hits, I'll be back on the pavement with a purpose! Have tons of fun and make lots of memories :-)

6:44 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

I admit to lurking. I'm a runner who's never been to Africa. But I have had some of the journalistic adventures you've dreamed about on your blog. Just a lot closer to home.

Oh, and congratulations on your marathon performance. Miami's a tough one with that tropical weather.

6:56 PM  
Blogger Riona said...

Hello Naomi! I'm de-lurking (though haven't been a serious lurking) ... Congrats on finishing ... it sounded like a hard road but you did it ... and soon you'll be running along the beach with the rest of the Senegalese fitness people ... I can't wait to read your first entry from Senegal. So I do run (as you know) and have been to Gambia, not far at all from where you're going, and loved it. I stayed near the beach and every evening at sunset the Gambian Olympic team would run by on the sand. It was very, very inspiring. (And the new job is going great - thanks for asking ...)

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delurking from Gainesville, Florida to say CONGRATULATIONS!!! I'm so impressed by your commitment to running a second marathon.

Yes, I run. In fact, you and A.Maria have inspired me to consider training for a half-marathon at some point. No, I haven't been to Africa, but I have colleagues who have worked there (Botswana and Uganda) and they love it. I'm sure you will too.

Best of luck in your travels. I'll keep reading even if you're not writing about running. :)

9:44 PM  
Blogger David said...

I could be a lurker if you prefer but I always have something to say.
Having read your story I now know why you looked so incredibly happy when you ran by me with Deanna. You had found each other just a little way back! How inspiring.
Like Rae I know how it was out there in the heat. I wouldn't trade it or the experience for anything. We had a blast.
Good luck across the waters. Don't go joining the Senegalese Olympic Marathon Team on us.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Scooter said...

You've defined the magic of the marathon. Like life, the what if's trump everything else. That's what keeps many of us coming back, somewhere inside, that small voice is saying, "I could have done better if..."

Meantime, enjoy Africa. My cousin spent time in the Peace Corps in the Philipines. She lost a lot of weight, due to the tapeworm. I suspect it's worth doing.

My first marathon took 4:01 - before you congratulate me, let me tell you that I was at 23 in 3:00! You figure my pace for those last 3, then decide if congratulations are in order. My second, on virtually no training, was only 32 min slower! You'll be back, and if you really do your homework, you'll PR - that's the education you get with marathons.

12:51 AM  
Anonymous Shalini said...

I'm a new lurker, runner and never been to Africa. Have a great time and congratulations on Miami!

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I've been reading your blog since before Midnight Sun while I was starting my training for Marine Corps. I live in Northern Virginia, 30 y.o., married to a military man, and work as a government consultant. Looking forward to hearing about your African adventures.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Running Jayhawk said...

Loved the aftermath of your race report! :)

I've posted a few comments...but I'm a quasi-runner (completed a marathon on 1/15 and still have major issues calling myself an athlete), but I'm from Chicago.

You're going to love Africa. I've never been, but I have friends who've gone there. My old roommate is in the Peace Corps (Paraguay) and is having the time of her life!! I can't wait to see what adventures are in store for you next!

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Caren said...

Hi Naomi! De-lurking here in Bethesda MD. I always read your blog and love your writing style. Congrats on Miami and great job! I imagine it's pretty hard training in 30-40 degree weather here, then running 26 plus miles in heat and humidity. Best of luck in Senegal and I look forward to reading about your adventures.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

Just found your blog a few weeks ago and then read all the entries in an afternoon. After each and every marathon I've ever run...except maybe the last "two...I always asked "what if...". But it doesn't work that way. You can try again anytime, that's what makes it addicting. Have fun in Africa, they run there too!

Julia (in Italy)

11:47 AM  
Anonymous glenn said...

A few lurkers, eh? Seems that may be a wee bit of an understatement. Of course, someone who lumps 26.2 mile runs, inter-continental moves and hair-style snafu's into the "fair game" bucket is probably prone to some exaggeration. And perhaps therapy.

I'd never really gotten into the whole blogging movement, at least not enough to say that I followed any particular blog with any frequency. I guess I just enjoy being the random voyeur. But I've made exception with yours. (Feel free to swoon)

I'm a runner from Raleigh, NC, and can happily say I finished my first marathon in Arizona this January (after several half marathons last year). And I guess I've got the bug now too; I'm signed up for the Rock 'n Roll marathon in Nashville this April and have plans to run the Chicago Marathon this fall.

Feel free to recommend me to the aforementioned therapist.

Of course I'm looking forward to the Adventures in Africa series (Caren's right about an enjoyable writing style), but do throw some running stories in there...particularly if it involves running after shyster tour guides or over to some nifty African dance studio. 'cause you lurrrve dancing, as I recall.

Cheers on the running accomplishments! I look forward to coffee, a laptop and stories from Senegal soon.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lurker here. New runner, lived in several African countries, going back this spring, then moving to DC. I'll get in touch once I land in DC this summer.

Good luck in Senegal. Try all the food you're offered. There's also a marathon in Kigali this spring, you might want to check out ;)

1:53 PM  
Blogger Running Chick said...

congrats naomi...awesome race...and good luck with all your upcoming adventures. i eagerly await your posts!

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

I'm Rachel in NYC and I'm a certified lurker if there ever was one. I'm actually a good friend of Anna M's from college and that's how I found your blog-- from hers. I don't know that I've ever met you, but since Anna and I were roommates in New York, I've definitely seen pictures and heard stories.

I am a complete NON-runner (anti-runner?) but I know that this whole thing isn't really about running in the end, it's about life. And to that, I can relate.

I've never been to Africa, but not getting my ass there is getting closer and closer to unacceptable every day. I work in Public Health in NYC so I know lots of people who've been (either to do PH work or the Peace Corps or both).

So keep on keeping on and I will be here, lurking, enjoying every story. :)

4:21 PM  
Blogger Rae said...

Hey! Call for the lurkers and they will appear!! I'm def not a lurker but I want to give you all my best wishes for a great trip to and adventure in Africa. I can't wait to read all about it!!!!What an experience!

I think we'll always wonder what if we did this faster, changed this around, etc. It's what keeps us striving to improve ourselves and keep the adventure going.

I'm so thankful we got to meet in "real life"! Share your infectious smile with everyone in Africa and it will feel like home before you know it!

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I'm from Australia and I' started reading your blog when I decided to enter a half-marathon last year (from 4km to 21km in 6 months, aged 38 with a 1yo child, husband and a job - it made sense at the time LOL. Thanks Hal Higdon). Even after the crappest half mara ever I'm still running, & reading your blog is a great pleasure.
Haven't been to Africa mysel, but a friend taught in Malawi for a year.....
good luck with everyhting

8:46 PM  
Blogger Dori said...

It's funny--I've been trying to work up the nerve to introduce myself and now you're asking. I love your blog; have been reading it since before your first marathon. I'm a runner and a blogger, and finished my first marathon (DNF the first two tries) last October and will be running my second M in June.

I admire you for your courage: going to Africa, becoming self-employed, and oh yeah, FINISHING TWO MARATHONS. Congratulations! You're an inspiration.

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know if I count as a lurker since you know me ... but yeah ... I heart reading your blog. So excited for you that you are headed in the direction of your dreams. Don't know if I woulda had the guts to leave the job (lord knows I didn't want to after my internship!) and do something totally scary, yet totally thrilling. I look forward to reading your witty writing in a major mag someday -- (Or a book! Write a book!) -- and saying "Yeah, I knew her back when we were learning how to use Filemaker Pro ..."

Best of luck, warm fuzzies, and all that

5:13 PM  
Blogger a.maria said...

oh noames.... i got teary not at your marathon, but at the thought of you leaving.

i'm obviously having a bit of an emotional day.. jeez.

anyway, first of all many congrats on your race. it gives me so much hope for how my second one might go...

but mostly, i wish you all the best in africa. i'm truly inspired by what you've done.. realizing you were meant for more, chasing your dream... i can only imagine the experiences you'll have, and the memories you'll make. please please dont stop blogging, i, and obviously so many more, will miss you!!

take care of you, and keep in touch!

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am a lurker as well...*sorry*
I love your blog and wish you success in your African adventures!
I am a runner (I've run a 1/2 marathon but my current goal is to get my 5 k time down to under 20 minutes...and I'm soooo close...but now I've re-injured my Achilles so the running is on hold for another few weeks yet).
Anyways, congrats on all your running and I look forward to hearing about Africa!
Cheers, W

4:35 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I'm Matt, a lurker from DC. You and I went on a date once. :-) I've been toying with the 10 Mile Cherry Blossom run, and I figured I'd read about your marathon experiences. For inspiration!

Hope you are well.


3:15 PM  

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