In Terms Of A Decade

It wasn’t until this year that I ever thought of life in terms of a decade.  By next year, I will have lived three of them.  But I never think “Oh, I’ll be three decades” and when it was my ten year reunion, I never thought “Oh, I have been graduated a decade” and etc…

But recently, I have begun to think about the depth of a decade.

Today, it has been one decade since my friend Jimmy passed away.

10 years, a decade…however I look at it, it is far too long to be without him.  And I miss him.

I miss him today like it was ten years ago.  Sometimes I miss him and it feels like ten years.  But the one constant, is always how much I miss him.  I have stayed close with his family, developing my own close relationship with his mom, Karen.  This does help with the grieving process and I am so thankful for them in my life.  But the truth is, outside of my writing, I don’t really show much emotion when it comes to Jimmy.  I think about him every day- some days I am angry, some days I am sad, some days I laugh and some days he just crosses my mind.  I grieve over a loss that is constant- I never got to know him as an adult and I am acutely aware of all the life experiences he was cut short.  Losing a friend at nineteen is still difficult to process even ten years later.

My words, although therapeutic for me, never seem to do justice for Jimmy; I could never adequately put into words who he was a person.  Jimmy was just someone you had to know- and I feel blessed, that even though we only knew each other a few years before our time was cut short, that I got to know him.

Jimmy was one of a kind.  I met him on my first day of work at the local Shoprite.  It was April of my junior year in high school and we were both sixteen.  He came over to me to bag and I said “Hi James, I’m Jill” and he said “It’s Jimmy” and I said “Well, your name-tag says James so that’s what I’ll call you” and it was from there that the friendship began.  (I called Jimmy, James.  The entire time I knew him and long after he passed.  But being around his family so much, I now call him Jimmy.  I am sure this is a win for him 🙂 ) Of course this was only after he was done being mad at me (as if it it was my fault) that I got to work register before ever having to bag.  Oh, the terror!  Many of our friends worked at Shoprite and one of the things we did weekly was write down all the schedules of our friends.  This way, if we wanted to call out, we would typically choose a day when none of our friends were working.  Mature and responsible!  When we did work together, which was a few times weekly and every Saturday night, it was nothing short of a good time.  We tried to time our breaks the same so that we could eat together and just hang out.  Jimmy was crazy- he would do anything for a laugh.  He liked to put me in a shopping cart and push me around…once we even knocked over the entire razor display.  He also liked to “do returns” which basically meant pick up the returns from the registers and put them away.  Except he would put them away in the wrong spot!  We would have water fights in the back room, sticker fights at register and when we were once put in bakery for punishment (I can hardly remember what got us there!) we got into a fight with flour.  Yeah, it went over huge with management.  But that was Jimmy, and that was our friendship.

Jimmy had such a listening ear.  When I started dating my then boyfriend, who also worked with us, he was always there to listen if I needed him.  Even when he got upset with me for “ditching” him to take breaks with my boyfriend, it didn’t last long.  When I started driving, we would hang out after work, just driving around talking.  We talked about his first kiss, both our new relationships, school, friends, music…you name it, we talked about it.

Jimmy was fired from Shoprite in the spring of our senior year and I quit right before graduation.  But that did not stop us from hanging out- we went to different high schools and hung out with very different people but for us, it always came back to me and Jimmy.  Our antics did not stop just because we were no longer working at Shoprite.  Jimmy gave me the confidence to be who I was when I was with him- something I struggled so deeply at the time.  But because of this confidence and his craziness, I often broke the rules with him- once, while his parents were at a concert he had me in his house (huge no-no with his parents) and they came home early.  I had to hide until he could safely get me out the front door.  Another time, we went swimming at like 2am.  I have a loud voice and a loud laugh and his mom ended up yelling out the window that it was time for me to go home.  Karen and I still laugh about that.  He also had a way of making me laugh even when I wanted to rip his face off!  When I enlisted his help to buy me tampons (yeah, I was that girl who got embarrassed by that stuff) at a CVS he said no problem but then walked up to the register with them, pointed at me, and asked the lady “she looks like a regular right, too small to be a super?” and I turned about 2098 shades of red and ran out of the store.  And then there was his always kind heart- once at the mall, when there was nowhere to sit and eat our lunch, Jimmy decided we would sit with an older couple.  He politely asked them if we could share the table and we spent the next hour just listening to stories from them.  They were so nice and it was just Jimmy’s way to sit down and talk with anyone.  There are only a handful of the stories…just a piece of our friendship.

The day I found out Jimmy died is at the top of my worst days list.  I remember I was meeting a friend after class to go shopping and when I got there I could tell something was up.  She wasn’t close to Jimmy but knew him and had a friend who knew him pretty well.  And the news had gotten to her first.  She told me as easily as she could but really, how do you tell your friend something you know is going to change their life forever.  I remember running out of her house just in a daze, not even really crying yet.  I drove to the diner where I knew my parents were having dinner- everything is still such a blur, but I know by the time I reached them, I was inconsolable.  The days that followed all mix together- tears, no sleep, tears…

I found the first year was full of numbness.  I spent a lot of time at his grave, just sitting and writing.  The loss was so deep and my pain was so raw.  But nothing could have prepared me for the second year.  The year when you can no longer say “this time last year…”  Up until now, the second year was the hardest for me.  In the ten years that have passed, I have come to find that while it never gets easier, it does become manageable.  I still visit the grave- every birthday, holiday and anniversary (this being the first I have missed due to vacation) and on the occasions when it strikes me to say hello.  Sometimes I bring flowers, sometimes I write and sometimes I just go say hello.  I think about him every day- for ten years, I have thought about him every single day- but I smile more now when he crosses my mind.  I find that when I am with Karen, we laugh now more than we cry.  And that isn’t to say, there aren’t still tears, because there are…sometimes because a song or memory and sometimes because it is just a random Tuesday.  But for me, ten years later, there is some peace that comes with these tears.  Finally.

In the last few weeks, I have really been struggling…I was at odds with myself over being here in Wildwood instead of home where I could visit with him.  But the truth I know in my heart is that I can visit with him wherever I want, whenever I want.  He is always with me.  I carry him in my heart.  And being here in Wildwood, with the ocean waves and bright sun, is about as peaceful as it gets.

It is 7am, the sun is shining bright…I think I’ll go take a walk on the beach and say hello to my friend.

1998- taken at work.  A charity day; we worked to fill balloons for all the kids.

Medford Tri Report

Today was my last race of the season.  As sad as that is, I am actually ready for a break- plus, I am still half-marathon training.

Because I was going to be leaving the race right from the shore, and have to go right to work from the shore Tuesday, I did not want to take my bike to the race.  Therefore, I had my friend Kurt bike for me.  Our relay name was a combo of both our last names- because we are super creative like that- you know it!

Pre-Race:

Wake up call was 5am; pretty late actually which was a nice change.  I had packed the night before, for both the race and the shore so I was all ready to go once I had my breakfast ready.  Out the door, quick stop at wawa and I was on my way.  Parking for this race was great…some of my teammates were already there so we chatted a little and headed over the the race.  Got there fairly early so there was quite a bit of waiting, but we had so many team members there the time went pretty fast.  Before I knew it, I was headed down to the swim.

Swim- 8:10; 71/302

This was my best swim to date.  So of course, it was also the one time they messed up my score!  They had me as starting in a different wave so my original time was listed as 11:10- you KNOW I had that fixed!  It wasn’t tough to figure out- it was clear I had an awesome swim; I was the 5th out of the water from my wave 🙂  I started off confident, in the front and just took off and never looked back.  I had the swim I was hoping for all summer.  It could not have been better!  And without a doubt, this is the best I have ever placed in a tri event, so I am over the moon!!!

What I would do different:  Um, Nothing!!!!

T1: 1:16

I had a long run into transition but I knew Kurt was waiting for me so I pressed on.  As soon as I reached him, we exchanged the chip and off he went!

Bike: 39:25; 64/302

I can’t really speak much for this but I can tell you this, Kurt was back in a hot second.  While he was biking, I used the bathroom and got changed into my running shorts.  I wasn’t sure when to expect him but I got into our transition spot only a few minutes before he returned.  He had a GREAT bike!

T2: 0:54

Look at that killer time!  Kurt came in, I took the chip and peaced the heck outta there!

Run: 32:46; 251/302

I went into this as a training run- I already did the 5k Wednesday as my speedwork and had to get my longer miles in today so this was just for training.  Of course I pushed it a little but I had to make sure to keep myself in check too.  Overall the run was good- out and back, mostly shaded but the one major problem was the lack of water.  There was NO water at the finish.  W.T.F???

Overall:  1:22:28; 134/302

I am really proud of this race- Kurt and I both did really well.  It was a great way to end my season!

Post-Race:

Hung out for about an hour after- we had our team tent there and it was my friend Vic’s birthday so we had cake and some adult beverages.  It was really fun but the sand and sun were calling my name.  By 11am, I was in the car and shore bound 🙂

*Photos from Wednesdays 5k and today’s race will be posted later this week.

How was your weekend?  How are you wrapping up summer?  I am hardly reading while on vacation but I would love to know what is up with you all- let me know anything worth knowing 🙂

Run For Tony 5k Race Report

If you were a reader of my blog a year ago you might remember that this was my first sub-30 5k ever and that I was ridiclously elated about it- and that my race report was written on the 100th post of my blog!  If you weren’t a reader then you were totally missing out on awesomeness you can read about it here and here.  Yes, a first sub-30 is cause for two blog posts!

Besides the fact that this is a race I hold close to my little runner heart, I really like the race and love supporting the cause.  I think one of my favorite things about this race, is that it is held at night, making it different than most races.  It is held in a small town, close to where I used to live, but about 30 minutes from my parents house.  The turn out is amazing (400-600 people yearly) and the atmosphere is great.  It is held at a local bar and afterwards they have free food and beer. 

Pre-Race:  I was almost late- I hit some traffic and then the roads were already all blocked off when I got there so I had to go the super-ridiculous long way and then there wasn’t any parking!  UGH-this is why I always go early!  I finally ended up parking, illegally I am pretty sure, and running to pick up my packet!  Luckily I registered online so I was able to just grab my stuff.  Gathered with all my teammates and my friend Michele, used the bathroom and got ready to run.  I was feeling a little off- not sure how I was going to run- but I had three goals…

  1. I would be happy with 10:20 pace.  Given all my racing lately and how my calves were acting up earlier in the day, I did not want to have too high of expectations. 
  2. I really wanted to get a sub-30.  I feel like this would be a good indication of my recovery and give me the confidence to really go after my half-marathon goal time in September.
  3. Of course, a PR is always the goal.

Race:  I started off great- even though I had some tightness in my calf I was running through it without pain.  I felt strong so I picked up my pace and went for it.  I was going hard and feeling good; I saw my friend Michele at the first water stop and knew I was doing well- she runs a faster pace than me- so I was feeling really pleased.  There were no mile markers on the course but I was pretty sure I had nailed two miles at a 9ish pace.  It was so hot and humid and I was starting to feel a little winded; I slowed down and ended up walking through the second water stop.  From there on it was a bit tough for me.  I didn’t allow myself to walk but I was jogging pretty slow.  Having done the course before, I knew when we were at the last turn and decided to give it my all.  The last quarter mile was in sprint mode and really showed me how much my speedwork has been paying off.

The Stats:

Time: 29:57/9:38 pace   (SUB-30!!!! 🙂  Not a PR but damn good if I say so myself!)

Overall: 375/487

Females: 146/231 

Post-Race:  As soon as I came through the finish I was feeling lightheaded.  Truth is, I was a little dizzy before I sprinted the last half-mile.  I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out and it was not a good feeling!  Some guy came over to tell me thanks for pacing him (I had no idea, but it was pretty cool!) and he was like “uh, you’re kinda white, are you okay?” and he ran to get me some water.  About 5 seconds later my friend Michele came over, got me some more water and we went over to the food tent.  I think the problem was that I ate too soon to run…not enough time to digest but enough time to make me feel like crap.  As soon as I ate some oranges I felt a ton better!  For about 2 hours post-race my teammates, friends and I all just pretty much hung around the lot drinking some beers (not me, I don’t drink beer) and chatting it up all things running and triathlon.  It was a really good night.

Gonna Get Crazy Around Here…

I feel like one out of every five of my posts begins with “I cannot believe how fast the summer is going” but it is so true.  This might have been the fastest summer ever!  And the next month or so is going to be Crazy with a capital C!

I wouldn’t want anyone thinking I up and stopped blogging- don’t need any broken bloggy hearts around here 😉 so here’s the low down incase I go missing for days at a time.

  • I am moving back out on my own- WOOOHOOO!  Living back at home after being out for three years was not easy.  My parents are easy people and I get along with them great…but me being back was tough on us all in different ways.  I always felt in the way and they both felt bad because they knew it was not my ideal situation.  But we made it work for over six months and here I am getting ready to head back out!  I am going to be living with a teammate of mine, who is also a friend, and we are both very excited!
    • Moving out in September is perhaps the WORST TIMING EVER!  I would have loved to move in either August or October.  However, we found the most perfect condo and would have been stupid to pass it up.  So despite the fact that I am on vacation for three weekends in September and Michelle (the roomie) is away one weekend, we are moving.  I will be moving in on a Tuesday night (could I get more random?) during the first week of school being back in session (I really am crazy!) while trying to keep up with training!  I think I need a nap after just typing that sentence!!!!
  • Yeah you heard me…this girl is finally taking a vacation.  Much needed for sure!  I’ll be soaking up the sun, laying poolside in Wildwood.  Ahhh, love! The thing is, because my vacation falls during the start of school, I have to travel back and forth for work.  No joke.  That is, by the way, the irony of my life.  Vacation looks like this:
    • Head down Saturday…stay until Tuesday.  I took Monday off work- my one and only day off (outside obviously of weekends) all summer.  I’ll come right from the shore and go to work Tuesday morning.  Then I’ll leave right from work on Friday and stay over the holiday weekend.  Again, I’ll come right from the shore to work on Tuesday.  The final weekend I took off Friday and will head down Thursday after work.  Then I will come home on Sunday afternoon.  Yes, it is hectic…and a lot of driving (1.5-2 hours each way, each time) but it is so worth it!  Worth.Every.Minute! 
    • While I am on vacation, I will not be getting lazy.  I am actually doing a Tri this Saturday before I leave.  I also have a 7-mile race on the 5th of September.  Obviously, in addition to this I will be keeping up with my weekly workouts as best as possible. 
  • And the dreaded start of the school year!  The craziness there has already begun.  Parents calling, teachers complaining and kids whining.  I am drowning in paperwork, feel like I am going to lose my mind and working very long days without lunches.  This time of the year is the absolute worst for me.  I get little sleep, I stress out and feel overwhelmed.  Somehow though, it all comes together in the end.  (Thank God for vacation!)
  • The end of September is PDR (yeah yeah, Philly Rock and Roll…but it will always be PDR to me!) which I hope I am ready for.  Ia m still toying with changing around my fall race schedule but haven’t been able to come to a clear decision yet.  Thinking about defering Baltimore to next year and giving myslelf a break in between PDR and Philly half.  However, I am also thinking of keeping Baltimore and just not doing Philly.  Ack- I hate making decisions!

So there you have it…the next few weeks will probably be full of short posts, blurbits and little commenting.  I will have my laptop on vacation but I try not to be on it too much while I am away.  Just know, while I am kicking it poolside with a glass of white wine after having slept in…I will be thinking of you all 🙂

Week In Review- 8/16-8/22

Week in Review; 8/16-8/22

Monday: 1000 meter free swim at the pool.  And it was just that…a free swim.  No watch, no equipement…just swimming to swim. ♥

Tuesday: Planned rest day.

Wednesday: Another great track workout!   4×400’s- 2:10, 2:09, 2:12, 2:10 =8:41  2×800’s- 4:44, 4:43 =9:33 and  2×400’s- 2:17, 2:19 =4:36 (9:12) with .25 warm-up and cool-down.  Did a 3 minute rest between runs and 5 minute rest between sets.  Did a much better job pacing myself although I still went out too fast on the first set of 400’s.  What is your favorite kind of track workout?

Thursday: Headed to the gym for a lifting session (arms) and did my PT active dynamics and HCC exercises.  For right now, they are pretty easy for me (at some point, I will eat those words, I am sure) because much of the HCC workout is stuff I have been doing for months as part of my PT.  The only thing I have not been doing, is the shoulder tap- I have ZERO coordination and look like a one-woman circus!  After work, I headed out for a bike ride.  I was tired and not in the mood but I made a deal with myself that if I went for a bike ride, I could enjoy martini’s at girls night later.  So even though it was only 6.2 miles, it was something!  And I drank my martini’s guilt free 🙂

Friday: Planned rest day.

Saturday: Wildwood Tri.  Race Report here.

Sunday: This could be summed up as a lazy day!  I really had hoped to get out for a reovery run of at least 2.5 miles, but my legs were just not going for it today.  At all.  So not worth it to hurt myself over- I have not been this sore in a long time!  Did I mention how tough the course was…cause it was tough!!  I settled for my HCC workout and called it a week!

Weekly High: Getting through the WW Tri despite pretty much everything going against me!  Woo hoo for sticking it out!

Weekly Low: I don’t feel like I did very much by way of work-outs.  Even though I know I needed the sleep and down time, lazy days make me feel so…well, lazy.

Three things I am grateful for this week:

  1. Vacation- I leave next week…YEAHHHH!!!
  2. Sleep- after waking up at 330am, it was so nice to sleep past 9am the next morning!
  3. My mom- Wildwood was the first race that I did without any teammates, but as always, my biggest fan was there ♥

Quote of the week:  We are built to conquer environment, solve problems, achieve goals and we find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve. -Maxwell Maltz-

Wildwood Tri Race Report

Wildwood Tri Report Bitchfest

Yeah, get your seatbelts on and get ready for the ride!  This race was a doozy kids! 

Pre-Race:

I had a BBQ at a friends on Friday night and when I got home, I just wanted to go to bed, so I decided to pack in the morning.  Mistake #1.

Wake-up call, 3:30am.  Got up easily, had my regular english muffin with PB and started packing.  Typically, I lay everything out and check it like three times before packing but this morning I was just kinda going through the motions and not paying very close attention.  Mistake #2.   

Drive down was mostly uneventful.  I have been making the drive to Wildwood since I was ten years old, and driving it myself since I was 17.  This morning I decided to take the way my parents go, which I have done in the past but not too often.  My mom was with me so I figured it was all good.  And it was.  Until we got to the fork in the road…luckily both ways end up at the same point because it did NOT look familiar to either of us.  Meanwhile I was being tailgated and starting to worry that I was going to be late.  We ended up getting into Wildwood in time but once we got parking I was cutting it close so I rode my bike up to the race site and my mom walked up to meet me.

It was at about this time I started remembering all the things I forgot to pack- including my watch, my race belt and my visor.  WTF Jill?!?!??!  It definitely had me starting on the wrong foot and it was at that moment that I decided this race was just going to be what it was…no point getting all upset since I couldn’t do anything about it!  At least I had my goggles, helmet and sneakers!!

(Oh, and I must make an addendum to my list from the other day.  Had I ever thought I would see this, EVER, I would have included it but I cannot even fathom what would possess a RACER to SMOKE in transition.  Ok racers…listen up…no smoking in transition!!!)

Swim- 14:26; 193/402

Note this: the “400 meter swim” was actually around 650 meters, if not more.

This was without a doubt, hands down, the most difficult swim I have ever raced.  The waves were huge, it was choppy and it was a fight the entire time.  I ended up kicked once in the stomach but was able to recover quickly.  I started a little back but passed a shit-ton of people and ultimately, all things considered, had a good swim.  Good, but tough. 

What I would do different:  

Nothing…in a swim like this all you can do is fight through it.  Getting into a rhythm is difficult and it becomes about just moving forward.  And in the end, I beat more than half the racers, so I am really thrilled.

T1- 4:24

Worst transition EVER!  I had to get my TT shirt on and then pin my race number on.  The shirt was not cooperating and the faster I tried to go the longer it seemed to take.  I felt like I was in there forever!

What I would do different: 

Um, don’t forget my race belt.  Yeah, that’s it!

Bike- 39:55; 15.0 pace; 363/402

The bike sucked.  Yeah, that about sums it up.  It was four…FOUR…laps around a fairly tight course.  Each bike out was great; the wind was at my back and I was riding at 17-18mph, but at each tight turn, I was slowing down to like 11-12mph right into the headwind on the way back which kept me at like 13-14mph.  Oh, and I was kinda bored. 

The fun part about the bike was that I passed my mom on each loop.  Even though I wasn’t loving the race, I was keeping a good spirit and each time I passed I would say something like, “I shouldn’t have left my Cervelo at home” or “this is me not loving the bike” with a huge smile on my face. 

What I would do differently: 

The wind element was out of my control.  As for the course, it was crowded and tight, so to say I would do anything different would be a lie.  For me, it is all about racing safe…if it costs me  few minutes to be safe, than I am okay with that in the long run. 

T2: 1:37

I tried to haul ass because without a watch I had no idea where I stood.  But in my rush to get in and out, I forgot to take my GU.  Mistake #3.

What I would do differently: 

Bring my damn race belt!!!!!!!!

Run- 32:01; 10:20 pace; 347/402

On the way out I saw my mom and said “I heart Wildwood, but I do not heart this race” and got some good laughs/cheers from the crowd. 

The entire run was on the beach.  It was not even possible to run down the soft sand, so I just kind skipped through it until I hit the wet/hard sand.  My legs felt okay but I couldn’t seem to get moving very fast.  I shuffled along to the first turn-around which was at a half mile and back up on soft sand and that is where I met Lonnie.  She was also walking through the soft sand and we started chatting.  We ended up running together for a while.  We kept a solid pace, chatted off and on and kept each other going.  I  am pretty sure I would have walked a lot more if I had not run with her.  With a little less than a mile to go, I slowed down a little and Lonnie went up ahead.  Pretty shortly after that, I came upon a girl walking, gave her a “let’s go” and we ended up running the rest of the course together.  We even sprinted into the finish together which was a lot of fun.

What I would do differently: 

Remember my watch!  And my visor!  And yes, my race belt!!!  Seriously, not having a concept of time was really agitating…and without my visor I was hothothot!  But most of all, I missed my belt!

Overall: 1:32:23

This race had problems written all over it.  Additionally, it challenged me from the very start.  Had I paid for this race, I might be more upset with myself, but it was free for volunteering and was a good day at the beach!  I don’t think I would race this course again, paid or free, mostly because I didn’t really love the course.  But it was super well organized, had great volunteers and was a good challenge for me.

What I am learning most about myself is that even when things don’t go right, a race can still be a really good time.  Prior to this year, having forgotten all that stuff would have really thrown me off.  I didn’t like it and it definitely cost me serious time (especially in T1) but so what…not every race is going to be perfect.

Post-race:

My mom and I went to breakfast and then spent the day at the pool.  Every year for the last 17 years, we have stayed at the same place.  They have a great pool and totally didn’t care that we spent the day there.  We had great weather and it was the perfect ending to the day!  After some time in the sun, we grabbed some lunch and headed home.

 And of course…photos!

Pre-Race photo!

Transition

Headed in from the swim…

…And into T1

On the bike…

Coming out from T2

Sprinting in…finishing strong!

Post finish line photo, take 1

Post finish line photo, take 2!

Ah…post race coffee/breakfast ❤

 

I may or may not have mentioned previously, but this was my last full tri of the season.  I have a race next weekend but my teammate Kurt is biking and I am swimming and running.  Although I called this the “bitchfest” I am really proud of myself for getting through this race as challenging as it was…I have come SO FAR in the last two years!!!