Runners gotta run

To run a marathon, or not to run a marathon?

That is actually never the question in our house; we’re most likely already training.

Are we old and tired? Yes.

Do we have WAY too much going on? Also, yes.

Does this even matter? Sadly, no.

Mark and I thrive on creating epic stories and making the kind of memories that you can feel in aching knees and scars.

If only it was appropriate to show the full-butt bruises that lived with me through the winter from our ultimate sledding sessions. Instead, just picture the black and blue mottled skin of a bruise, a bad bruise, one that’s ringed by green and puffy after the full damage makes its way to the surface and it takes away all excitement that you were thinking about a butt.

Bring on the snow.

But until then, we run the thing.

The most recent thing: the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Since late 2019 this race has been on the agenda:

  • We’ve never been to Maine, how better to explore a new place than to take a 26.2 mile tour on foot?
  • Cool medal.
  • Increased odds of seeing a moose.

But then COVID hit and burst our bubble.


Eventually we forgot we had even signed up. We stopped running and started packing on winter/spring insulation. Life was grand and carefree! Nothing ruling our days but the things we wanted for ourselves!

But wait…

…ah sh*t.

“Training starts this weekend…”

“…with a 6-mile run.”

Friends, perhaps you are familiar with the phrase, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.”** We did not use our running legs so we lost our running legs and had to suffer extra to get back our running legs in the four months it takes to get ready for a marathon.

**Fun fact: the origin of this phrase is believed to be less euphemistic and more beaurocratical: if your agency does not spend all of its budget it must give the money back to the treasury.

But this is not a post about our toils through the ups and downs of training for an impossible distance that would take us through 1,700 feet of elevation gain. Nay-nay. I am here to slather you with the good, the bad and the truly ugly that made this race an A+, 9/10 adventure that will be forever imprinted in our brains, laminated and saved in our memories for future visits.

Points taken off for no moose sighting.

First, The Town.

Bar Harbor is the start of the race and so it’s where we stayed. It is Cabot Cove come to life; small and quaint and you should never visit because I’d like for it to stay charming and untouched by commercial entities capitalizing on increased tourism, mmmkay?

The seafood: aces.

Acadia tchotchkes: a’plenty.

Views from the harbor: bury me, I died.

Of course we also had to do our part to support the wild blueberry industry in Maine. My advice: when you don’t take your trip to Bar Harbor, don’t try the blueberry pie. And certainly don’t eat at Jeanie’s Great Maine Breakfast.

Now, The Race.

Hard. The race was hard.

Early on we clocked a mile-and-a-half hill; a lot of runners hit the wall on that hill, you could almost see the bonk in their gait. It was an accurate indication of what was still to come; but we were prepared, we trained in the hilliest sections of our neighborhood.

And our bodies held out well beyond the halfway point.

But then we broke down HARD.

Mark had struggled with a nagging Achilles issue. A trainer looked at it the day before the marathon, felt around his calf and told him to skip the race. He specifically used the words “crutches” and “ruined for life.” Obviously Mark ignored his qualified advice and ran, overcompensating with other less-developed leg muscle groups and spent the last four miles on pins and needles.

For me it was the angle of the road that derailed my life’s ambition of making Mark eat my dust. The pitch was so extreme that it threw my right hip out of alignment causing my leg to give out every 50 yards for the last few miles.

We walked the last two miles. Didn’t even attempt a light jog. Couldn’t even attempt a light jog. But we still finished; we collected our medals and our pizza slices and celebrated with everyone else who just did the same. I’m not even mad at the women who commented that we looked like we’d been on a nice Sunday stroll as we crossed the finish line.

I mean, I’m not mad now.

I do hope they see this, though.

Broken bodies aside, I said at mile 15 I would do this race again and I still mean it.

The weather, the course, the scenery, the runners behind us blasting Queen from a portable speaker; it all lined up perfectly. The golden lobster claw medal, the finishers’ dinner party and a thousand people hobbling around town, nodding in solidarity, were the added bonuses.

It’s the full picture that will keep me coming back, the things you don’t necessarily hear when runners talk about their races: four months of my life dedicated to training, the excited buzz at the starting line, counting down the miles of the race, the instant relief at the finish line, and then reminiscing about it hours, days, months and years later.

It also helps if there’s chowdah at the finish line.

But speaking of pictures…

This tree is what the race logo is modeled after; I felt like I was meeting a celebrity when I finally saw it
Still smiling at the halfway point!…but not for long

Of course we’re already training for our next race; the start of our next four races if 2023 is kind to us. Myrtle Beach 26.2 or bust!

Black Friday madness

I’m in *it* for the chaos.

*It* being most things. The best stories to tell around the table or in a blog post decades later come from those wacky and wild and utterly ridiculous moments; the more ridiculous the better, in my opinion.

I should really put that on a shirt.

And so, in the spirit of the holidays, and all the joy, excitement and utter chaos they bring, let’s take a deep dive into to the mother of all shopping experiences*, one that is upon us now…BLACK FRIDAY.

*Filene’s Basement’s Running of the Brides deserves a chance to argue its case here, which I will do at a later date; there are brides, and they do run. And they yell and they sweat and they develop a bartering system to score the perfect 90% off dress.

Early aughts Stacie was keepin’ it real, keepin’ it authentic. I had the idea to enter the wild world of predawn shopping at the same time I realized (gasp!) I was an adult and could spend my money on whatever I wanted, leave my home whenever I wanted, and eat dessert whenever I wanted.

Mind you, I was already fully employed, paying taxes and health care premiums at this time. #latebloomer

So on that first Black Friday morn of my newly discovered liberation, I packed up my youngest sister and our friend and at 2:30am we cruised in style in my dad’s hand-me-down Caddy to the store that opened up earliest in our town: Best Buy. Home of the best buys on that day, for sure. You want a 50” plasma TV for less than what you spent on yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner? Come to the Best Buy, but you’d better get there early!

We got there early, but not early enough. No matter, we weren’t there for a dirt cheap plasma TV. We weren’t there to get a sound system or refrigerator either. In fact, we had no plan and almost no money as we stood there, frozen to our place in line like the hundreds of people in front and behind us.

No doubt they all had a list, checked it twice, compared it to the flyer they got with their newspaper the day before and brought money.

After the first round of shoppers entered, shopped, paid and filtered out, we made our way into the store. It was a scene; people bustling around, DVD players under their arms, a look of terror and rage in their eyes knowing the fate of Christmas Day rode on this very moment. I stood there and took it all in. Then I grabbed a $5 movie and stood in line.

It was a really long line.

Too long, I eventually realized, to wait for (insert 2007 relevant movie title here), so I put it back and asked my sister and friend if they were ready to go.

I’m gonna be honest: there was fire in their eyes. It was a quiet ride back home.

We all learned a valuable lesson:

1. Have a Plan.

The next year, I knew to be ready:

  • know what the deals are
  • bring money.

The sense of adventure in my DNA salad came from my dad, so he jumped in on the fun, replacing my sister and our friend, no surprise there. We scoured the Thanksgiving Day flyers. We made spreadsheets with rows and columns listing stores, doorbusters and opening times. We knew where we needed to be and when to maximize our time and our dollars.

It felt good to be ready! To know that my 3am wake up call was going to result in the most efficient use of Black Friday time.


2. Use Your Brain.

With the help of flyers and spreadsheets, my dad and I determined the absolute BEST place to be at 4am was in front of JC Penny for their doorbuster deal on slipper socks we wanted to snag for my mom.

On the spreadsheet, “JC Penny” and “slipper socks” were bolded AND highlighted. For good measure we added our own drawn in stars. At the appointed time we strolled through the doors of the mall; breezing past the line already formed at Old Navy, second guessing ourselves only slightly, we hustled on down to our starting point, fearful of what we might find formed there.

They did have doorbuster slipper socks, after all.

We were a line of two. At 4am. Until the doors opened at 5am.

Apparently, slipper socks were not the hot ticket item we expected. Graphic tees were all the rage at $5 that day.

Friends, use the sense God gave you. Black Friday shopping has morphed in so many ways, but efficiency and time maintenance in spending is alway in style.

These days, my Black Friday shopping looks a lot like my Cyber Monday shopping: jammies and coffee on the couch. I talk about my days of pre-internet shopping the same way my parents talk about life without cell phones, with fondness but also with gratitude that I never ever have to do that again.