From A to Z

From A to Z Create a short story, piece of memoir, or epic poem that is 26 sentences long, in which the first sentence begins with “A” and each sentence thereafter begins with the next letter of the alphabet.*

A runner, undertaking the task of training for a 26.2 – her longest race.

Breathless in her shuffle while her body wakes. 

Chasing the sunrise, dreary eyes barely open; not yet checking pace,

Distancing herself from the starting point, ignoring premature aches.

Evenings on the track, legs like pistons and lungs depleted,

Friends made, bonding with sweat, tears and glory.

Groaning, up hills, bile rising – but she’s never defeated. 

Heroine, she plays, in her very own story.

Inquisitive about life, trivial thoughts exhaust her; doubts rising.  

Just focus, just breathe, just take it all in, just BE…

Kaleidoscopes of colors come to, as the sun catches the horizon.  

Little does she know to let go, is to be free. 

Maddening, to do something so simple; primitive and natural.

Not one person on Earth can take this away, it all rests on her will.

On her mind she sees the fog lifting – with every run, it is so factual. 

Perhaps one day she will accept these epiphanies, she has yet to sharpen that skill. 

Quests for knowledge; revolving the marathon and the history

Rembering Grete, idolizing Switzer, Joan and Radcliffe. 

Solace, peace, zen – those are the ones she craves, but elusive in their mystery.  

Twenty miles, ten, and taper – does she remember being so achy and stiff?

Undoubtedly so; she trusts in her plan, it is time to embark on her adventure. 

Variants; weather, logistics, hills, pain, the Wall – she sprints into the finish.

When is there another, she wonders; a a new found thirst, is Boston even a venture?  

Xenia, Eaton, Brookville, Tipp City, Dayton; hundreds of Ohio’s miles covered, these memories will never diminish.

Yet here she is, tears wiping, sweat pouring, curse words uttering, humble with new found grace.

Zealous in her plight, she is determined, confident but forever grateful she is even in this race. 

* prompt taken from here

From A to Z

Refocusing; A Bit of a Ramble. 

We all know not every run can go swimmingly. Not every race is a PR, not every track workout is pegged exactly like you want it, and recovery is a monster in and of itself sometimes. I have been very excited about training, looking forward to the next run, because it leads to the long run – my favorite! Not to sugarcoat it, but today was tough. Not in the ‘I want to quit NOW’ sense, but in that my limbs felt awkward, and I just could not settle into a rhythm for the life of me! It was very, very humid so maybe that had something to do with it. I also ran a new route that had zero give on desolate roads, yet had traffic flow at 630 on a Saturday morning. 

For all I know, on a good run day, I wouldn’t be picking apart my run so much. I know I hydrated enough, but I don’t think I ate enough this morning. While I am glad to have done it, I’m glad it is over. This morning I was getting increasingly frustrated, and I kept reminding myself that this IS NOT for me. The miles I cover, the sweat, the frustrations – it pales in comparison to the true purpose of training for Marine Corps. 

I know I have mentioned wear blue:run to remember before. The group, pivotal in my grief in the death of my brother, honors the sacrifice of the fallen military members. Any fallen military; not necessarily just those lost in our current war. I am honored to run MCM as part of their Gold Star Athlete program, along with numerous other fabulous individuals. 

For the record, you do NOT have to have lost a family member to run for wear blue. If you feel called to support the global community of runners in blue, I encourage you to search them out on Facebook. There are also national meet ups at not only military bases/areas but also in ‘civilian’ cities as well.  

Before every run, I read biographies of those I am running for. It makes it real for me, and solidifies why I’m doing this. Some might think it’s morbid, and maybe it is,  yet I can’t really explain it. Maybe you have to just be in the position that I’m in. Not very many people in our population serve in the military. Now take the military members, and count those that have deployed. I know people that have served a full 20 years, and never left their duty station. Take those deployed, and put them into a job immediately in harm’s way. Not everyone goes outside the wire. The numbers of those lost in the past 15 years is nothing compared to the numbers in other wars. Yet the pain is very real. In fact, I think because of modern times, maybe grief is easier on those experiencing it. When someone went MIA in WWII, or became a POW, who did the family turn too? Where there local groups to become a part of and bond with? There certainly were not internet groups, private Facebook chats you could have with a fellow Gold Star Family 2,000 miles away. I have cried in the silence of my living room, at 1 in the morning, with a GS Sister, whose life almost mirrored mine. She lost her brother, and her husband was deploying. My heart was breaking for her, though her husband came back, the terrifying feeling she had daily was very real. 

I realize I am rambling, but I need to do it. I needed to see that nine humid miles with annoyances along the way is nothing, NOTHING, compared to a flag draped casket. Pain is nothing compared to barely keeping it together for the National Anthem EVERY. TIME. Pain is nothing, compared to a child growing up without a mother or father simply because they were following their dream of serving this country. Recently, I read a biography in which a female Soldier left behind a six year old daughter. The Soldier died in 2004. My daughter is six. Simply put, I cannot wrap my head around this loss. Pain is nothing compared to silently sobbing into a pillow when Taps plays at 2200 every night – I am so, so glad I don’t have to hear that every night. Those notes haunt me. Pain is burying your family member, knowing blood was spilled for something they so fiercly believed in. I went to Basic Training with individuals from Puerto Rico – these guys barely knew English, yet felt callled to join the military – in fact they were the hardest working guys in our brother flight. I have read a couple of biographies in which foreigners joined our military, just to give back, and because they felt they truly loved our country enough to pay the ultimate sacrifice. Some Americans don’t even feel this way. Can you imagine the pain THEIR families felt? They lose their son/daughter/husband/wife, and they themselves do not even reside in the States. What an isolating, desolate feeling. THAT is pain. Not running. Not waking up at 5 to run 20 miles before the heat of the day. Are you kidding me, Natalie? Soldiers rucksack longer distances without the comforts of A/C to come back too, without showers, without decent footwear or the convinience of gel packs and water available. 

In retrospect, maybe this run happened for a reason. To bring me back down to Earth. To make me realize that, yeah, shitty runs happen. I was getting too comfortable in training, almost honeymoon-like. I lost my focus, and this was a wake up call. 

I am happy to have had it. Losing focus will not happen again. Yes, I have been given an amazing oppurtunity. Yes, it was given to me in my ties to a fallen brother. Would I rather have Jon back, than run 26.2 miles? Yes, without a doubt. Would I rather go shooting with him, listen to his laugh, or even (Jesus help me) cross him before he’s had his coffe? Hell yeah. But I can’t. Miles covered will not bring my brother back. Miles covered won’t close the loop of grief and make everything ok again. Miles covered with bring back anybody… but those miles are the least I can do. I don’t have freaky scientific technology that makes them an interactive hologram. I don’t have a time machine. I don’t have a phone that contacts the afterlife. I do have a passion in helping familes of the fallen, and maybe walking, running, cycling, swimming or whatever – will help them too.   

I’ll quit rambling. For those that had their long runs today, I hope you stayed safe and hydrated – it’s quite the warm summer this year. For those racing, I hope you PR’ed. For those that had a terrible run and didn’t throw in the towel – great job! For those that had a terrible run and threw in the towel – way to be smart, you’ll nail it next time. 

Last Saturday I ran 5 miles. Those I ran for Army Staff Sgt. Michael Burbank, KIA 11OCT2004; Army PFC Anthony Monroe, KIA 11OCT2004; Army Sgt Pamela Osbourne, KIA 11OCT2004; Army PFC Aaron Rusin, KIA 11OCT2004 and Marine PFC Oscar Martinez, KIA 12OCT2004.

Tuesday, I ran for Army SPC Christopher Merville, KIA 12OCT2004; Army CPT Dennis Pintor, KiA 12OCT2004; and Army SPC Michael Weger, KIA 12OCT2004. 

Wednesday, I ran four miles. In those miles, I ran for Marine LCPL Daniel Wyatt, KIA 12Oct2004; Marine CPL Ian Zook, KIA 12OCT2004, Army SPC Ronald Baker, KIA 13OCT2004 and Marine 2LT Paul Felsberg, KIA 13OCT2004. 

Thursday brought three miles for Marine LCPL Victor Gonzalez, KIA 13OCT2004; Army SPC Jaime Moreno, KIA 13OCT2004; and Army Lt. Col. Mark Phelan, KIA 13OCT2004. 

Today I ran nine miles. Those were for Army SPC Jeremy Regnier, KIA 13OCT2004; Army Maj. Mark Barbret, KIA 14OCT2004; Army SPC Bradley Beard, KIA 14OCT2004; Army SPC Kyle Fernandez, KIA 14OCT2004; Army Staff SGT Omer Hawkins III, KIA 14OCT2004; Army Staff SGT Brian Hobbs, KIA 14OCT2004; Army SPC Josiah Vandertulip, KIA 14OCT2004; and Army PVT David Waters, KIA 14OCT2004. 

Refocusing; A Bit of a Ramble. 

Public Service Announcements 


Shit has been REAL this week. 

I’m not sure if freakin’ Mercury is being weird, if there’s some demigod spiting me, if Earth’s vibrations are spinning off into wrong directions or some shaman is doing the wrong dance… but everything around me has been a solid FAIL all week. Every task I try and do has some seemingly trivial f-up, and a girl can only take so much. Saturday and Sunday (i think) were spent laying around, willing my body to please feel better. I somehow got my five miler in, but everything else after that is kind of a fuzzy blur due to another bout of sickness. 
Monday started with a huge, early morning thunderstorm (LOVE!) that also compelled a certain puppy to bring in a very alive baby opossum into the house. So, here, I have not one, but two PSA’s. 

PSA #1 :: When approached by a very wet, spastic puppy that promptly drops a baby opposum onto your kitchen floor, be as calm as possible. Instead of screaming like a banshee on meth (like I did) entice the puppy to bring the opposum back outside, as if you are going to play together. 

PSA #2 :: Possum is Australian. Opposum is American. Both are marsupials. That’s about all they have in common. 

Tuesday was pretty uneventful. In fact, the universe decided to grace me with delicious Thai food and a great run. I pushed the limits of it, and though it was only three miles, I was beat – in a good way! I was, however, ready and willing to stab whoever looked at me wrong. Which brings me to my next PSA. 
PSA #3 :: When running with headphones, it is advised to always keep the volume low so that you can hear traffic, or heaven forbid, people who may mean to do you harm. Also, one might experience and hightened state of alert while running, because she is very idiotically listening to Serial, a podcast about murder, bloodlust and violence. Though I ran in full daylight, with plenty of people (read:witnesses) around me, I still felt spooked. 

PSA #4 :: After said run, do not think you can do a short leg day with your ‘old’ weight set after you have not lifted in months. You WILL end up looking like an idiot all day, and have your hamstrings cramping up during a playdate, which makes it very akward, no matter how much you talk about coffee and local school districts. 
Today was recyclying and trash day. “Wow Natalie,  you sure are reaching here. What could you possibly have for us in relation to this?!” Well naysayer, here we go. 

PSA #5 :: If your county/city/township does recycling or trash service every other week, I strongly advise you to check around ALL lids and handles before reaching your perfect, smooth hands around said container. There is an off chance that in the two weeks you weren’t handling the bin, that wasps have decided to make the rim of the lid their home. How I wasn’t stung or bit, I’ll never know. I did however, almost faint when I saw their little home built onto the side of the recycling bin. I’M TRYING TO MAKE THE EARTH BETTER FOR YOU, AND THIS IS HOW YOU REPAY ME. 

So there you have it folks. I am hoping the universe takes this as my Airing of Greivances, and that we can start over on a clean slate. Go forth, with the advice I have given you. Store it, in the back of your brain; or, give this advice to someone whom may benefit from it – maybe your neighbor has been complaining about POSSUM’S for too long (wait, unless you’re Australian, in which case… ignore this and also never leave your house because nature wants you to die) or maybe now you will start checking where you put your hands. 

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to try and make it through the rest of the week unscathed. 

Public Service Announcements 

I Am My Own Worst Enemy

Well this week flew by unexpectedly. My brother came into town and it was a whirlwind of activity! It mainly revolved around poor food decisions, and to put it mildly, I will definitely have enough fuel in the tank for my run tomorrow. Unfortunately it’s a five miler, and just thinking about the food I ate, I would estimate it would last me for a 48 hour fast and a 10 mile run. 

The ‘older I get’ the more I realize that my body truly hates junk food. I know I have said this before, but I’ve had two days this week where I experienced pretty dramatic affects from my diet. The first ‘episode’ I ate something that has upset me before, and this time it upset me even further. And I mean, nausea, headache, bloating, etc. – in fact, the symptoms were so bad that the next day I had to take Benadryl, and have a three hour nap just to help kick the nastiness. 

Cue last night. We went to a local minor league ballgame and I totally splurged on a funnel cake. If you know me at all, you will know my love for funnel cakes, and you would be absolutely floored to know that it has been about six years since I last had one. About half way into the funnel cake I started to feel ‘off’, but I was basically in an eating competition with my brother and I couldn’t lose. I powered through, and today I am paying dearly for it. Nausea all day long, bloating, and I woke up with a killer headache. Luckily I didn’t have to resort to Benadryl today, but it was bad enough to where I will probably never have another funnel cake, or anything deep fried, ever again. 
With that said, I managed to hit my mileage this week. My first three miler I took slow because I ran in the heat of the day. My mid-week four miler was downright amazing. I absolutely love running 800’s, so I did repeats. 2 x 800 @9:05, 1 x 800 @ 8:49, 1 x 800 @ 8:41, 2 x 800 @ 8:34 and the last at 8:13. I wanted to keep going but had to get my son to basketball. My final three miler was today, and I managed to average a 9:44 pace. My main goal for this entire run was to not throw up. Literally. I wanted to go faster, just for the sake of getting back to a trash can sooner, but I decided I’d rather go slower than vomit. That’s how much I hate doing it. 

I’m finally feeling better tonight, which is a good thing. I didn’t eat all day, but had some rice, garbanzo beans and a little coconut curry for dinner and it was perfect. Like I said, I have a five mile run tomorrow, and while I love running long, I think the distance will be perfect. My stomach is too pissed off at me to do anything more. The rest of the week, I’ll probably survive off of tofu, rice and kimchi while downing kombucha. I have found that this ‘heals’ my insides the best, as gross as it may sound, but I feel like my body is craving it! I don’t know how it is for everyone else, but if my gut isn’t happy, NO one is happy. It makes for healthy eating, but it’s also very annoying… because sometimes this girl just wants a damn funnel cake. 

Combined, my total mileage for the week was 10 miles. As with every run I have, of any distance, I ran purposeful steps to honor the fallen and their families. 

Army Staff SGT Gina Sparks, KIA 04OCT2004; Army Staff SGT Richard Morgan Jr., KIA 05OCT2004; Army SPC Jessica Cawvey, KIA 06OCT2004; Army Pvt. Jeungjin Na Kim, KIA 06OCT2004; Army SGT Andrew Brown, KIA 08OCT2004; Army Spc. Morgen N. Jacobs KIA 07OCT2004; Marine Pfc. Andrew Halverson KIA 09OCT2004; Army Pfc. James E. Prevete KIA 10OCT2004; Army Pvt. Carson J. Ramsey KIA 10OCT2004; and Army Pvt. Carson J. Ramsey KIA 08OCT2004. 

I Am My Own Worst Enemy

Long Run Love & an Idiot Sandwich

The long run today was spectacular. The pace was rythmic and effortless; exactly what I needed after a week of daunting runs that bruised my ego. I truly love long runs.

During the seven miler, I took the oppurtunity to listen to a podcast my brother in law’s wife was on. Yes, I know the podcast was months ago, but aside from running, there is zero chance I have one hour to myself for uninterrupted listening. Stay at home moms, you get me. Featured on Another Mother Runner’s 212th podcast, she talks about finding change while on her run. Between her and my brother in law, they have raised quite the amount of money for the Achon Uganda Children’s Fund. You can read more here, as AMR interviewed her in a blog post in 2013. The numbers are as impressive as her running!
To date, I have found a measly seven cents, counting the nickel I found during my run today, just as they were interviewing Samantha. I came across two pennies sometime in June, and I was so excited I sent a picture of them to both her and my brother in law. Granted, they find way more cash at any given moment, but I’ll take it! I attribute the lack of monies found, to the routes I chose. In Oklahoma I opted for deserted roads meant for Army tanks, a track, or the treadmill. Not exactly your hotbed for loose moola. Here, I’m running the majority of my run on country roads, but you better believe that I keep my eyes peeled for shiny coins or loose bills while in town! I definitely need to take the advice of money finding professionals, and it’s just another facet I will enjoy about a long run!

There was one hang up this morning, which was completely human error on my part which makes it sting even more. I called home a little over halfway through, and not only forgot to re-start my Garmin, but it saved the activity as ‘done.’ I didn’t realize this for over a quarter mile, so I had to start a new activity and THEN I forgot to stop the watch while at the light, which totally jacked my average pace. Go figure. Per the Garmin, I didn’t run seven complete miles, and this annoys me to no end. I shouldn’t let it bother me, but it does, mainly because it was my own damn fault.

As with all of my running, I ran purposeful steps in that I run for the fallen and their families. The night before a run, I read about the individuals I am running for. This group of seven men includes Air Force 1st LT Joel Gentz, whose mother is also a Gold Star Athlete for Wear Blue. July 9th would have marked his 32nd birthday.

Army SPC Allen Nolan, KIA 20SEP2004; Army SGT Jack Hennessy, KIA 01OCT2004; Army SGT Michael Uvani, KIA 01OCT2004, Army SGT Russell Collier KIA 03OCT2004, Army SSGT James Pettaway Jr., KIA 03OCT2004, Army SGT Christopher Potts, KIA 03OCT2004, Air Force 1LT Joel Gentz, KIA 09JUN2010.

Long Run Love & an Idiot Sandwich

Do You Have Cheese? FOR MY WHINE?

Why is it that short, mid-week runs can be such HELL to accomplish? All morning, I crave the run. The night prior, I often think about how great the run will be and BY GOLLY maybe I can PR my usual course. I read about running. My day revolves around either getting the run done, or some type of cross training for running. Don’t get me wrong – running is absolutely not a chore, that is not what I am trying to get at. 

Then, I start my run. For the first half mile, joints are moving, the body is getting warmed up, and I expect at any moment to start enjoying it. “It” never comes. Instead, I find myself struggling to bring in a deep breath, as I feel like I am breathing through a wet blanket. My knee, which has felt a little off the past couple of days, keeps pestering me. My hips continue to whisper to me, in a most taunting way, reminding me that I never did foam roll like I said I was going too. A side stitch comes along, patronizing my lack of hydration. By the time the three mile excursion is over, I am equal parts relieved and frustrated in myself for letting it get to me. 

The past two runs have consisted of just three miles each. The humidity on both of them was between 84 and 89, which has felt downright oppresive. Mix in the summer heat, and I felt like I was cooking on the pavement. I know, I know – maybe I’ll hit the treadmill next time and race the poor unsuspecting soul on the treadmill next to me. Unfortunately, this new gym lacks the Marine motivation… HA!

Though this week has been challenging, I am reminded by recent events that I must not take advantage of it. Everyone I love woke up this morning. My kids are happy, my spouse is finishing up Army life so we can all reside here together. Who am I to complain about WEATHER, that I can’t even control? This isn’t a bad diet spun out of control that I, myself, can reign back in. In essence, this is your typical first world problem. “Waah. The air is too wet to breathe… Ew, I wish my headphones wouldn’t get so sweaty. UGH, my hair keeps falling out of my high bun!!!” 

Yeah, I need to get over myself. Which I totally plan to do over the course of seven miles, in 60 degree weather, in relative LOW humidity, some time this weekend. I truly live for the long run. Days like today and yesterday have me wondering HOW the hell I’m going to add 23.2 more miles… But I know I won’t feel that way during my long run. It will be nothing short of perfect; in all of it’s exhilarating glory. I can’t wait.

Though the miles were hard, they are nothing in comparison to the fallen servicemembers and their families. My run on Thursday was for Amry Sgt. Tyler Prewitt, KIA 28SEP2004; Army Ssgt Mike Dennis, KIA 29SEP2004; and Army Ssgt Alan Rogers, KIA 29SEP2004. 

My run for today was for Army PFC Joshua Titcomb, KIA 29SEP2004; Army Ssgt Darren Cunningham, KIA 30SEP2004; and Army SPC Rodney Jones, KIA 30SEP2004. 

Do You Have Cheese? FOR MY WHINE?

A Mystery Wrapped In An Enigma

​Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you.

I know, it’s a weak start to the writing prompt thing  but sometimes you need to start small and warm up to it. Like I said before, I despise being told what to do, especially with something like writing, but it gets me out of my comfort zone – which means growth. 
In true rebel fashion, I’ll make a list instead of just writing about one thing. 

  • When Harry Potter books came out, my mom and I would attend the midnight releases. Sometimes friends of mine would join also, and I can’t speak for them when I say I would stay up until about 7 a.m. reading them. Time stood still for me when I read the books, and I treasure them to this day! (the books, not my friends. I’M KIDDING.)
  • I have never seen Game of Thrones. So why mention it? Because it seems to be the thing to do these days.
  • I am infatuated with Amelia Earhart. 
  • Friday 13th, November, 1998. I turned 13. DUN DUN DUNNNNN.
  • My favorite location in the world is Lund, Sweden. Aside from the new house, obviously.
  • I won a small scholarship to a local community college. Literally. It was a no-purchase raffle, and I got $500. Hilarious.
  • My husband mentioned that most people won’t know I am half Peruvian, or an Air Force veteran. I would hope that most know the latter, but most people truly ARE amazed at the Peruvian part. I typically get ‘BUT YOU’RE SO WHITE’ or ‘OH GOD, YOU DON’T LOOK HISPANIC AT ALL’ Look bitch, hispanics can 1) be pale 2) still kick your ass. Also, just because I was Air Force, doesn’t mean I know your neighbor’s son’s hairdresser who served for three years. It’s a small Air Force, but not that small. 
  • When I was a kid/tween I HATED softball because of the pants. I thoroughly enjoyed playing, but absolutely despised the feeling of the hot/wool/polyester/death by scratchiness. Bleh. I can feel them now, and just, ugh.
  • You know those runners that will run laps in the parking lot to get  EXACT distance? Yeaaaah, that’s me. 
  • I once bought a Jeep Wrangler, and had my supervisor accompany me… little did she know, she was going to teach me how to drive a stick shift in said Jeep on the way home. 
  • Recently, and very briefly, I thought about going back to school. My interests ranged from Marine Biology to a dual degree of Journalism/Nutrition. So yeah, that was a hard pass. Maybe one day I’ll grow up and GETTUR DONE. 
  • Also, I decided to leave this post imagine/GIF-less, because that would be the LAST thing you would expect of me. 
A Mystery Wrapped In An Enigma