The friend I’m about to feature is one of my nearest and dearest. Jenn and I met many moons ago, at my first “real” job at a little local book shop, and I recently realized we’ve been friends for more than half my life.
Jenn has the kind of talent that makes me feel like Will Ferrell in Elf when he realizes Santa is coming to Gimbel’s.
So, how was your weekend? Do anything fun? Have a good Mother’s Day?
Huh? What? No, I’m not just asking so I can tell you about my weekend. Geesh. I thought we were friends.
Oh, well, okay, if you insist.
I walked 32 miles on Saturday.
That’s how far it is, apparently, around the perimeter of Manhattan.
Even though I’d taken a break from running due to 30 extra pounds and a complete lack of natural running ability injury, I still fantasized about the Next Big Thing: ultra-distances (races greater than 26.2 miles, the length of a marathon).
Several months ago, someone mentioned to me that you could actually walk around the island of Manhattan. As in, there’s a continual path (more or less) that’s pedestrian-friendly (more or less) that circles the perimeter of New York City’s most famous borough. Upon Google searching, I found an event called The Great Saunter, hosted by the Shorewalkers club, where roughly 1,500 people gather annually to do just that.
Half sightseeing tour, half endurance test, the journey at Manhattan’s edge takes you into the shadows of 19 bridges, through as many parks and past art installations, city landmarks and 360 degrees of ever-changing views. – New York Times
The Great Saunter isn’t a race or a fundraiser, and is in fact meant to be a saunter at 3 miles per hour, but seemed like the perfect opportunity to test my limits. Besides, even if I changed my mind, the registration fee was only $20.
I knew it was unlikely I’d find anyone equally eager to walk 32 miles, so I mentally prepared to go alone.
In the days leading up to the event, the forecast was doom and gloom. Most people assumed I would bail, but clearly they had forgotten about my pride and boastfulness commitment to greatness. On Friday night, I borrowed a proper windbreaker and put everything I thought I’d need in Ziploc bags: Band-Aids, ibuprofen, Band-Aids, vodka, Band-Aids.
I was probably more nervous about driving from New Jersey into New York City than walking around it. It was drizzling slightly, but stopped by the time I arrived. I found a nearby parking garage and headed to the starting point, a pub near Battery Park at the southernmost part of Manhattan. I saw more people than I expected, conspicuously outfitted in hiking boots and backpacks.
The official start time was 7:30 am, but dozens of walkers began early, including me, around 7:15 am. I was feeling anxious, antisocial, and eager to get to that evening’s Cinco de Mayo party.
As I told my father the night before, it wasn’t a matter of wanting to quit along the way, but rather, how quickly that feeling would arrive. I knew I would suffer. I might not make it. I walked quickly, passing many Saunterers along the way. No one said hello. Eventually, I had nothing but my overstuffed backpack to keep me company.
My legs started feeling stiff by mile 8, which is when I conveniently remembered I hadn’t trained at all for this. I promised myself a quick stop at mile 10 to pop some ibuprofen. The first of many.
Around mile 18, still feeling optimistic that I would finish, and nursing only one blister, I met a woman named Grace, who was walk-jogging the entire distance. Grace had the inside scoop on the fastest walkers.
“Did you see the woman in pink?” she asked me.
I stared back blankly.
“Holding a plastic bag?” she probed.
“Ah! Yes! Bag lady!” I exclaimed. I tried not to sound out of breath trying to keep up with Grace. “How could she hold a plastic grocery bag for 32 miles? Why didn’t she use a backpack? And she was so fast! I couldn’t catch her!”
“I know! Me either!”
I thought I’d been enjoying my solo trek, but by mile 25, I was eternally grateful for Grace’s company. It turned out we had a lot in common, and she shared kind words that had an effect more powerful than 6 months of therapy: she thought I was 22.
“I just turned 34,” I told her. “And lemme tell ya, I feel it right now.”
“When I signed up for this, I thought it would be so easy,” she said.
I looked at her incredulously.
“I can’t believe you’re holding up this well if you came into it with that mindset. I knew it would be awful.”
We shared an “I just want to finish” mentality and held our pace for as long as possible, our conversation wandering between divorce, dating, food, and spirituality. You can cover a lot of ground (pun intended) when you walk with someone for 4 hours.
We stumbled through the remaining few miles, feeling sheer delight when the numbered streets turned to names – that meant we were getting close. The last mile was the hardest physically, but by then we could already taste the beer victory.
We started celebrating as soon as we saw Fraunces Tavern, the [starting and] finishing point.
It was 4:30 pm, 9 hours later, when we crab-walked up the stairs and met a very cheerful woman, who took our names and presented us with certificates. We immediately asked about the plastic bag-holding woman in pink.
“Everyone keeps talking about her!” she replied. “I haven’t seen her. Only one guy finished the whole thing before you two.”
Grace and I let out a collective squeal and hugged. Sure, it wasn’t a race, but…
After our single celebratory hefeweizen, Grace, who’d found street parking, drove me the 4 blocks to my parking garage, where the attendant said,
“You took a long time.”
“Huh?” I replied, suddenly remembering that I’d told him I’d be back by 5 o’clock. It was only 5:30! And did it really matter?
“That’ll be $45.00,” he continued.
“Huh?” I said again. “I must’ve misread the sign.”
“You went over 10 hours,” he explained.
“So that was a $55.00 beer,” I grumbled, reluctantly handing him a wad of cash.
But I’d done what I’d come to do. I quickly recovered and drank patted myself on the back for the rest of the weekend.
I’m already looking for the Next Big Thing. Any ideas?? Have you ever done anything like this?
*GIVEAWAY WINNER UPDATE: Many thanks for your hilarious entries in the latest Go Jules Go giveaway! Babs (my mother) had a hard time picking a winner, but chose Misty from Misty’s Laws! Congratulations, Misty – your copy of Jen Kirkman’s memoir, I Know What I’m Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself is in the mail!*
I’m sorry I haven’t posted in so long, but I wanted you to believe running my first half marathon last month actually killed me.
Actually, it did something far, far worse.
It hooked me.
Me. The blogger with a penchant for vodka and chocolate-covered bacon everything.
This is my life now:
Oh and see those little silver packets on the lower right? Those are GU brand energy gels. I don’t even like Gatorade, let alone creepy pudding packs with space-agey Nutrition Facts.
Finally, though, I listened to the advice of 10,273,047 seasoned runners and tried one during a recent training session, around mile 8, when I felt particularly sluggish. I went with the least offensive flavor I could find: Tri-berry. (Named so because GU berries run triathlons. Obviously.) Sure enough, 20 minutes later, I felt a sudden pep in my step that lasted the entire remaining 5 miles.
Speaking of winners, the rumors are true: I completed my first half marathon, The Wild Half, on Sunday, May 18th, in Wildwood, New Jersey!
I chose the course because it ran alongside the coastline, i.e., it was FLAT. After 8 weeks of training, I still had no idea what I was doing, but my sister, a race veteran, was there to guide me every step of the way.
Her calming presence didn’t stop me from asking the obvious questions.
I was also careful not to disrupt my normal routine the day before the race.
The morning of, I lined up with the 10-minute mile pace group. My goal was simply to finish without walking, but I knew the faster I finished, the faster I could drink “celebrate.”
I programmed the 80’s cardio mix on my Pandora app and got ready to rock and roll.
I was feeling great until about mile 7, when the sun and endless stretch of pavement started to sear my soul. By mile 9, I hit the low point usually reserved for mile 10. Then, miraculously, I saw the mile 11 banner. I had missed the 10-mile marker altogether.
Despite that mental boost, by mile 12, I was ready to stop running. Two of my oldest friends, shame and pride, pulled me through.
With a stitch forming in my right side, I grimace-grinned down the home stretch.
I passed through a string of enthusiastic volunteers to claim my snazzy finisher’s medal.
So, not only have I become one of “those” people, I’ve also become one of THESE people:
To add insult to [inevitable knee] injury, what am I up to now?
If you were forced at gunpoint to run 26.2 miles, who would you drag with you?
***As promised, one commenter from my last post receives a Vosges Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon bar! The lucky winner is: WTF Elsewhere! Congrats, Lorien – I’ll be in touch via email to award your prize!***
You’ve heard of the Body Mass Index (BMI), right? A handy dandy formula for figuring out just how many bacon strips past healthy you are?
Well, then, I’m glad you put down your vodka and Valium long enough to read this post, because: I know. That shiz is unforgiving.
This past summer, I felt compelled to finally take note. I’d been struggling with a 2 year-long weight loss plateau, and even hiking every mountain in New Jersey wasn’t helping.
Thanks to 1 FitBit (my pedometer on steroids) and 6 months, I realized vodka does, in fact, have calories…
…and have gone from “obese” to “normal.”
And you know what that means for Go Jules Go…
In all seriousness, this blog has changed my life. I’m 100+ pounds lighter than when I started GoJulesGo.com in February 2011, and while weight may just be a number, I’m also lighter in spirit in ways that cannot be measured.
And that is invaluable.
So thank you.
P.S. – I can totally still celebrate with vodka, right?
And we’re making up for lost time, because I forgot to celebrate getting a new job on Monday! I know. After a 2 week-long interview process, you’d think a bit ‘o pink bubbly would be first and foremost on this Project Manager’s agenda. But no. I was so busy on Monday, it wasn’t until the following day, when Husband #3 asked how I planned to celebrate, that it dawned on me: For once, I had a valid excuse for the cheap champagne I already drink daily in moderation.
And that’s not all we’re celebrating – today I’ve been “Freshly Pegged”! My friend, the hilarious and multi-talented Peg, of Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings, is featuring a post I wrote in December about my writing process, and I’m thrilled – I really, really want to keep this conversation going.
When they contacted me on Halloween, I leapt out of my hard, plastic seat. I was waiting for Chinese take-out with my family, obsessively checking my phone, like any good bloggette who hadn’t had power for a week [thanks to Hurricane Sandy] would do when she realized she had free wi-fi.
I attempted to explain to my parents, sister, niece and nephew why I was so excited.
“It’s WordPress’ blog!”
“They like me! They really like me!” I tried.
A little drool. Eyelids drooping.
I finally resorted to shamelessness: “This is a BIG. DEAL.”
Babs offered a confused smile. The rest of the family was already back to talking about Dancing with the Stars.
Lackluster familial support understanding aside, I eagerly answered all of The Daily Post’s thought-provoking questions – all except one. There was one question I really didn’t want to answer. Because they wanted me to name my top 5 blogs.
Top 5 blogs? Have you seen my Blogroll? Even that’s incomplete.
I could no sooner name a favorite Hot Pocket variety.
I hate knowing I left so many wonderful bloggers and friends off that list, but it got me thinking:
I’d really like to know which bloggers inspire you. Not just the ones you ‘like’ regularly, or the ones who make you laugh, but the ones who move you. Was there a particular post that really spoke to you? Or caused you to take some sort of real-life action?
I hope you’ll share stories and links in the comments section below, and I look forward to hopefully meeting some new bloggers!
Thank you to Michelle and The Daily Post for making my dayweekmonth year, and to you, Chipmunks, a source of never-ending fulfillment and inspiration. I said in the interview that blogging changed my life. And I meant it.
While I know it is usually you who expresses gratitude to me, for bringing such light and laughter to your dreary lives [filled with not loving chipmunks and eating calorie-conscious meals], let us take this time to acknowledge my appreciation for all you do to appease me, especially on my birthday.
To my husband, Peppermeister, with your unparalleled taste in spouses: You took it upon yourself to hire a man to put us in a basket tied to a balloon as a “gift.” Even though they have absolutely no control over where the basket will go, or land, I know this is your way of saying that our love will forever defy the odds. And not at all that you want to kill me.
To my wonderful mother, Babs, who finally got it right with her third child: You made a beautiful photo album, capturing the last 30 29+ years of my enviable life, because you felt visitors were not jealous enough of my current coffee table book, ThePop-Up Book of Phobias. Without your loving and watchful eye, these visitors might have left my home feeling like they had the upper hand – all because I serve White Castle and haven’t cleaned behind the TV in two years!
To my genius father who still has all of his hair: I am willing to overlook those disturbing quotes from my college application essay that you included in the above album. I know that dredging up embarrassing memories is your way of trying to make your other children feel a little better about being constantly overlooked. You always try to be fair that way, even though it’s hopeless.
To my insane triathlon-competing sister: Thank you for wearing the dress I loaned you four months ago to my birthday dinner; you looked really great in it. It’s clear you wanted everyone to see what impeccable style I have, and I’m not jealous at all. But you should know that that one will be out of fashion soon, so you should just give it back. I wouldn’t want you to embarrass yourself.
To my adorable niece and nephew, who take after their aunt in looks: Thank you for giving me hope that someone I know will eventually join a glee club based on his top-notch jazz hands, thus exponentially increasing my chances of meeting Second Husband, Darren Criss. Also thank you for believing I’m famous because I refer to my “blog” as “a super popular website.”
To my completely normal and nice in-laws: I’m forever delighted by the ability of our families to get together without fights, tears or backhanded compliments. It’s like I didn’t even steal your only son away from you. Oh and that gift card is pretty sweet, too. Keep those coming.
To my best friend, Jenn: No one gets me like you do. Except for that guy who makes my egg sandwiches and puts way more cheese on them than is remotely appropriate. No, no one gets me like you do. And no one gets me flowers except you, either. Actually, that’s kind of a problem. Let’s talk about how to fix that the next time we get together.
I love that you love me, family and friends. Clearly loving me so much has made all of you better people.
But don’t worry about thanking me for that yet. Christmas is just around the corner.
Love always, or until all that champagne you got me runs out,
What’s the most guilty pleasure-ful gift you’ve ever gotten?
Last week, Peppermeister (my husband) pointed out that Comcast cable’s OnDemand feature (where you can watch movies and TV shows, well, on demand) added something called XFINITY Streampix. Under that category, they added the first two seasons of Dawson’s Creek.
Remember Dawson’s Creek? “I don’t wanna wait…”, the Joey-Dawson-Pacey love triangle, the intense vocabulary, and the dad in jail? Right. That’s the one.
When I was 16, I was obsessed with Dawson’s Creek. They filmed it in Wilmington, North Carolina, about a 12-hour drive from where I grew up in northern(ish) New Jersey. Thanks to my habit of trolling America Online chat rooms, I found out how to contact the casting agency and become an extra.
In case you don’t know – anyone can be an extra. I mean, anyone. Even nerdy 16-year-olds with zero acting experience or ability. Especially when it’s a show’s first season and they film in a quiet town in North Carolina (though it’s worth noting that Wilmington is home to Screen Gems Studios, the largest domestic television and movie production facility outside of California).
Babs (my mom), the woman who taught me everything I know about guilty pleasures, agreed to take a 5-day trip down to Wilmington in September of 1998, and I experienced life as an extra for the first time. Though it’s mostly downtime with a bizarre subculture of working ‘background actors,’ we had so much fun that we made the same trip several more times over the next two years. During what should have been my first semester of college, I worked as a full-time extra. (I was going to be a screenwriter. To heck with higher education!)
I don’t own Dawson’s Creek on DVD, so Peppermeister had never seen my network TV debut. For the first time in 10 years, thanks to Comcast, we sat down this weekend and watched my key scenes.
In the one you’re about to see, I had to diligently prepare; I had finally scored a coveted classroom seat, and would be pretending to take a driver’s permit exam. Pacey (Joshua Jackson) was on edge, having just gotten into another argument with his insensitive cop father. He’d already failed this test once. Not to mention his girlfriend, Andie, who was in the nuthouse and still hadn’t called. My character, on the other hand, felt adequately prepared for the exam, but was also preoccupied – I’d recently caught my father cheating on my mother, who certainly didn’t deserve it after 15 years of working the late shift at the Snakeskin diner. I hadn’t told anyone, not even my best friend, Ashley Katsopolis. Can you sense the angst?
Did I just blow your mind? And guess what? After carefully tallying up all of my shining onscreen moments, I still have 14 minutes and 23 seconds of fame left!
Have you had your 15 minutes of fame? Close encounters of the celebrity kind? I can’t wait to hear. I live for this shiz.
Whoever said bloggers were lame, basement-dwellers who lack the talent of ‘real’ writers has never met the awesome array of bloggers I have via WordPress. I’m continually amazed by the gifts and goodness they possess.
So I guess in some ways I wasn’t surprised to receive this text from JM Randolph (Accidental Stepmom) last Thursday morning:
Totally last minute. CC can’t come to my opening nite show. I only got 1 ticket- do you want it? 6:45 curtain.
The show JM was referring to was Jesus Christ Superstar, which opened on Broadway March 22nd. Thanks to JM’s gig doing sound for theater, I just scored an invite to opening night – on Broadway! I responded accordingly:
Hi JM! I just saw this! Is it too late to say hell yes!?
And so it was. We agreed to meet at 6:30 in front of the theater. I went to Kohl’s on my lunch break and picked up two new blazers because, of course, nothing in my closet was right. I settled on all black: black stretch pants, black calf-high boots, a black high-necked shirt with a sheer overlay on front, and a black blazer with similar sheer trim along the bottom.
I lightened things up with my wedding-day earrings, which are getting a lot of play lately:
I boarded the 4:23 NJ Transit train, excited as could be. JM and I met for the first time in January, before I saw another Broadway show, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I was really looking forward to seeing her again. From reading JM’s blog, it’s obvious she’s smart, witty and completely badass. I expected to meet a tough, somewhat no-nonsense chick. Which intimidated the hell out of me. Oh, how wrong I was! JM is warm, welcoming and lovely. And gorgeous! Not I’m going to wear leather pants to kick your butt gorgeous, but Princess Bride gorgeous.
It was only on the train, nearly to Penn Station, that I saw an earlier text from JM (I’d been having battery issues with my phone all day):
oh and dress semi-fab. you will need a pic of yourself on the red carpet.
Red carpet?! Moi?! My honest-to-goodness first thought was: I think my stretch pants are see-through! I was willing to accept that any pictures of me would be less than flattering, but transparent pants was where I drew the line. It was akin to stepping out of a limo with no underwear.
I quickly texted JM:
Oh holy shoot. For some reason I just saw your text about the red carpet. I did buy a new cute blazer on my lunch break BC that’s how I roll LOL but I don’t think it qualifies as fab?!?!?!?!
JM assured me it was no big deal, and that at least one person would be in sweatpants. I couldn’t tell if I’d just gotten myself out of it.
It was a gorgeous day for March, 75 degrees and sunny, and Manhattan was absolutely packed. It took me 40 minutes to work my way through the throngs of people to Neil Simon Theatre (I always prefer to walk to the theater district versus taking the subway or a cab from Penn Station, even though it’s at least a mile). I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen Times Square so jammed up.
There was also a huge crowd in front of the theater, though I couldn’t see who was on the red carpet. Several skeletal women passed by me in bright, silk dresses; it was clear they’d spent the entire day getting ready. My heart was in my throat at the prospect of sharing any kind of floor space with Broadway elite. I didn’t know the names of these producers and directors. I wouldn’t know Edward Albee if I tripped over him (just to make this reference I had to Google ‘living playwrights’).
When JM met me outside and handed me a ticket, I followed her lead. Okay, good, we weren’t headed towards the flash bulbs and cheers. Instead, we walked in through a side door. Hallelujah, I was spared! Under different circumstances, I would have been disappointed. But not that night. Not in see-through pants.
JM showed me to her motherboard, which was on a platform at the back of the orchestra section. She introduced me to some of her colleagues and it was clear they all adored her (and vice versa). Being part of the in crowd really is all it’s cracked up to be, Chipmunks.
I told JM I was learning about the inner workings of Broadway from one of my new favorite shows, Smash. She said they do actually do workshops like the one currently depicted on the show, confirming my suspicion that I can learn everything I need to know from TV. She paused.
“You do have crazy eyes.”
I laughed. I recently wrote a post about my crazy eyes; in it I described my giant pupils. Being in a dark theater surely made them noteworthy.
“I know,” I replied. “Everyone thinks I’m high all the time. …I wish.”
“Do they even need to dilate your pupils when you go to the eye doctor?” she asked with a good-natured smile.
Because the show was soon starting, I bid a temporary goodbye to JM and found my seat in the center of the balcony section. I smiled to myself when I saw the skinny-minnie-silk-dress girls in seats right by me. Ah, opening night on Broadway, what a great equalizer you are! I felt smug until I realized my see-through-panted butt could still barely fit in the wee Broadway seats (despite, and let me pause to brag for the first time here, a significant weight loss in the past year).
The audience was extremely enthusiastic, and while I’d never seen the play before, I was blown away by the production value and, most of all, the voices of the cast. (I bet some of that can be attributed to JM!) Andrew Lloyd Webber came out during the curtain call, and the standing ovation was the longest I’d ever taken part in.
I didn’t linger because I had to catch my train home, but hoped I managed to convey my gratitude and enthusiasm to JM before dashing. (In the end, I missed my connecting train -for the first time in my life- because I was too busy texting about my fun night out!)
Hey, we can still pretend I shared the spotlight with the likes of Megan Hilty (from Smash) and Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Hey, wait a second, Lisa Lampanelli…
…That dress looks familiar…
I’m so ahead of my time*! Maybe see-through pants will be in four years from now! Damn. I guess I should have walked that carpet.
*I bought this dress for $25 from Target 4 years ago. I cannot believe it’s on the red carpet right now.
Photo credit (marquis and red carpet pictures): broadwayworld.com.