Get Up And Go: A Marathon Story

Last fall I had four friends (yes four!) run their first marathon!  I am so proud of each of them in different ways and grateful for their friendships and how each has helped me to grow as a person.  Running may seem like an individual sport, but it’s also a team sport especially through the grueling days of training!  And while I wasn’t able to get to Ohio to cheer on my good friend Nicole, I was with her in spirit!  I ran with her on some hot training runs last summer…and left her before she was done because, well, I just wasn’t in training shape for doing 10+ miles on a random Saturday.  She has been my go-to work buddy (we all need one of them!) and is the one who introduced me to the best workout group in the world–SealTeamPT!  May her story inspire you to get up and go..

Guest Blogger: Nicole Tidwell

As it finally is starting to warm up, I’ve been thinking about getting back out there and running more consistently again. Looking for some motivation, I was scrolling through some emails and stumbled upon a quote that I had earmarked when I first started running (fall 2010) for moments like this:

I think about all those who can’t run. Then, I think about what my life would be like if I couldn’t run. That alone provides me enough motivation to get out the door. We don’t have to run, we get to.

I also found this blog entry that I wrote up two months after my first marathon in October 2014 and I am definitely more inspired to get back out there!

*****

“It’s official, I am CRAZY & registered for a marathon!” That was the subject of an email I sent to a select few in late July 2014. I was several weeks into my 18 weeklong marathon-training plan and I decided to finally bite the bullet and register for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Marathon in Columbus, Ohio. As I said in that email “there was no turning back now that I’m registered and you know!”

I always thought marathons were crazy. I remember crossing the finish line of my first half marathon thinking “yea right, I will NEVER double what I just did.” Well two years later, I did.

The race turned out to be a lot of fun and I was pretty much on happy juice the whole time! I had no idea what I was in for but I knew I was prepared and knew I would finish one way or the other. (Thankfully I crossed it smiling, feeling good and happy with my time of 4:47). Nicole marathon 3The crowd was amazing! The course was the perfect one for me – a tour of my hometown with some particularly cool spots to run through that I have countless memories of growing up. (As a Buckeye fan, the coolest thing though was running through the tunnel onto the OSU football field!) My friends and family were throughout the course cheering me on! And afterwards they threw a party for me! Nicole marathon 2

A lot of people questioned my sanity, why I was doing it and what I hoped to get out of running a marathon. Those 18 weeks of training were a blur of short and long runs and a lot of time to ponder my latest challenge/goal.

The training was painfully boring at times until I figured out I needed to train with people, whether it be friends from boot camp or complete strangers, to get through those long Saturday runs. I found a great running group in DC (Pacers) that required just showing up bright and early at 6:45 on Saturdays to check in & hit the streets complete with course maps and a sampling of running gels and other aids.

Nicole marathon 1The training was full of physical and mental tests: I got my first blister! (I thought it was my badge of honor!) I strained several muscles in my right leg and had a lovely limp for about 10 weeks as a result. On race day my right side (from my ankle to my hip) was covered in bright purple KT sports tape. (I don’t know how that stuff works, but it was a godsend). I was mad because I gave up drinking (& basically as a result being social) during training. I’m pretty sure I covered every range of emotions on long runs from dread at the beginning, to indifference, to rage, to disappointment, to crying to jubilee when it was done!

But throughout my actual race and training (during runs and in between runs), I kept coming back to a variety of thoughts, most of which are applicable to life in general:

• If you want it, go for it.
• Don’t give up.
• The only thing preventing you from running a marathon is your own list of excuses.
• Be patient.
• Be your own hero.
• It’s not always fun, but ultimately there is a reward at the end – satisfaction that you pushed through.

So to sum it up, why did I run a marathon or any race? The peace of mind it gave me and the calming effect it had on me through an extremely shitty year.

An article in the December 2014 Runner’s World, “The Write Runner” by Michael Heald explains it perfectly:

Nicole marathon 5It’s about staying fit and pushing yourself to achieve and surpass goals. It’s also about personal and spiritual growth, creativity, mental clarity and emotional stability. I find these things in running.

And now I’ve got to lace up new shoes and get back out there!

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New Year, New Challenges

Happy 2015!  A little photo journey below of my recent travels…

Moscow, Russia!  A cold day walking through the city and checking out St. Basil's Cathedral.

Moscow, Russia! A cold day walking through the city and checking out St. Basil’s Cathedral.

I can’t believe I’m entering year five of blogging bliss!

Cool view from a coffee shop window in Moscow.

Cool view from a coffee shop window in Moscow.

Brussels at night.

Brussels at night.

And with a new year comes endless possibilities and a clean slate.

View of Red Square from St. Basil's Cathedral.

View of Red Square from St. Basil’s Cathedral.

I have a lot of ideas brewing in my head related to my fitness goals this year and still need some time to sort them out.

Brussels at night, Grand Place.

Brussels at night, Grand Place.

These last few weeks, though, I took a hiatus from all things fitness and took a trip to Russia (over Christmas) and Belgium (over New Year’s).

Ice skating in Gorky Park (Moscow, Russia).

Ice skating in Gorky Park (Moscow, Russia).

Ice skating Christmas night in Gorky park with my friend Jackie.

Ice skating Christmas night in Gorky park with my friend Jackie.

What an amazing adventure!  While I did a ton of walking (in snow boots most of the time, no less) and ice skated on Christmas night, I also ate a lot (especially in Belgium–waffles, chocolate and beer make for a great diet, right?).

Shop four of six on a New Year's Eve chocolate tour in Brussels.

Shop four of six on a New Year’s Eve chocolate tour in Brussels.

14 Brussels (waffle)

Chocolate and strawberry covered waffle…mmm…who’s counting calories?!

The pretty green chocolates were literally to die for!

The pretty green chocolates were literally to die for!

But no matter, I was with good friends and so very happy away from the everyday priorities of life back home.

No, that's not the makeup counter...it's CHOCOLATE!

No, that’s not the makeup counter…it’s CHOCOLATE!

My friend Lily gives the thumbs up for this chocolate shop!

My friend Lily gives the thumbs up for this chocolate shop!

And while some find travel to a foreign land stressful, to me it’s somewhat freeing when you don’t understand the language being spoken.

Moreover, “disconnecting” from technology–be it the phone, texting, email, or browsing Facebook was also a welcome respite.  I have returned feeling a bit more whole again.

Pretty light displays in Moscow, with my friend Laura.

Pretty light displays in Moscow, with my friend Laura.

This was a statue that we saw while walking through a park in Moscow.  All I can say is, creepy!!

This was a statue that we saw while walking through a park in Moscow. All I can say is, creepy!!

In the new year, I want to live a simpler life–to more fully enjoy the everyday, to wake up each morning praising God for what He’s done in my life, to truly enjoy moments with friends and family, to quiet my mind from the many to-do’s that float around my brain, and to make more me-time

The churches are so amazing to see in Moscow.

The churches are so amazing to see in Moscow.

(after all, as much as I love being productive and spending time with my friends, every night does not need to be filled with priorities and get-togethers).  Already this week I have incorporated some of these things and what a difference it makes!

Hat shopping at a market in Moscow!

Hat shopping at a market in Moscow!

The Kremlin, Moscow.

The Kremlin, Moscow.

Moscow Christmas market.

Moscow Christmas market.

As for the blog this year, I have some ideas up my sleeve.

Ice skating with friends, Lily and Loren.

Ice skating with friends, Lily and Loren.

For one, I have already signed up for my very first Spartan race (perhaps with a little trepidation) that takes place in August.  I figured this would be a great motivator to work on my upper body strength for the obstacles.

We were sad at first that the European Parliament building was closed, but then we remembered we were in Belgium for New Year's!

We were sad at first that the European Parliament building was closed, but then we remembered we were in Belgium for New Year’s!

Starbucks in Moscow!

Starbucks in Moscow!

I also still hope to do another triathlon–aiming for an Olympic distance.  Race suggestions (and training buddies) are most welcome.  I’d like to incorporate more guest blog pieces on the site, as well as some product reviews this year.  But the main thing is to have fun with it all and spread some inspiration to others.

The oldest church in Moscow!

The oldest church in Moscow!

A beautiful church in Moscow that we visited.

A beautiful church in Moscow that we visited.

Here’s to a fabulous 2015 to you!

I loved all the decorations in Moscow!

I loved all the decorations in Moscow!

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Get Your Stache On

Last Sunday I ran a 5K—the inaugural Stache Dash Run sponsored by Pacers and Samuel Beckett’s Irish Pub. Three great things about this race—1) It was in Shirlington (practically in my back yard); 2) I wore a mustache (maybe more annoying than great); 3) I met up with friends, both old and new, for brunchStache Dash 2014 2 afterwards (and we all know that you can eat anything after running, yes even if only 3.2 miles).

The morning began with bib, t-shirt and mustache pick-up at the pub. One thing is for sure women were not meant for mustaches! It felt weird, granted that is not the way I’m sure a real mustache feels on a man because, well, he grew it, but even so it did not do anything for me as far as looks are concerned. The day was the first true cold morning I have felt in a while—it was the kind of wind that makes you want to curl up under a warm blanket, but alas here we all were freezing together for a run on the first day of daylight savings. Thank goodness for that extra hour of sleep at least!

Mario and Dr. Phil...err Sallyann and Liz.

Mario and Dr. Phil…err Sallyann and Liz.

The run itself was a good course starting in Shirlington and then up through a neighborhood and then back around again to the finish line. There were a few families standing outside their homes watching us run by—no cheering was really happening—but hey at least they came out to watch. We went by the new Wakefield High School (where I go swimming and now I know a new street to take to get there). If anyone tells you that Arlington is not a hilly town, well they are wrong, because there was a pretty decent sized hill that we climbed.

Stache Dash 2014 (me and Gina)

Post-race with my buddy G.

Overall, my time was not as fast as my personal best from the August Lost Dog 5K series, but I was still happy.

Stats: 25:20 (overall time); 11 out of 208 (age group); 125 out of 726 (overall.

And in case you didn’t get your stache on, see you at next year’s race—November 1, 2015!

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Triathlon Redemption

I often wonder what it is that drives me to sign up for races.  They require you to wake up early–and by early, I mean anything pre-5 am!  But I’m not the only one; races across the country have taken off over the years and more and more people are getting past the “I’m not a morning person” excuse in order to be a part of the growing race trend.  Road closures aside, I’m secretly convinced that races start at the crack of dawn to weed out the early morning risers from the non-early risers and that if race officials started offering more afternoon/evening races, the numbers would skyrocket and be unmanageable.  That being said, what do 1,100+ women have in common at 4:30 am on a beautiful Sunday morning in August?! If you said sleeping, think again–we were getting ready for the Columbia IronGirl sprint triathlon in Columbia, MD.

I have been a bit slow to recap my race but luckily I jotted some notes down the week following and have had time since to digest it a bit more.  As my readers may recall the June sprint triathlon that I did at the Jersey shore was a battle of the mind.  While the distances were nothing to write home about, swimming in the ocean was a bit terrifying.  And it’s really difficult to simulate race conditions (ocean waves, wetsuit) in the pool.  Excuses aside I finished that race in my own way, but I wasn’t satisfied with my performance.  And the only way to move forward from your own mind game is to get back out there and try again.

I decided that signing up for another IronGirl race was just the confidence booster I needed.  IronGirlI arrived in Columbia the day before to get my race packet, attend a pre-race talk by the director, and rack my bike.  irongirl gearRacking the bike the night before already took a good deal of stress off my shoulders because it was one less thing I would have to worry about the following morning.  I also had the opportunity to walk around the lake and visualize race morning.  IronGirl Swim FinishAlthough the course looked a wee bit far, it was still not as scary as the ocean!  I dipped a toe in the water and the temperature felt good.  I was not going to need a wet suit.  It was going to be a good race.

Another thing I did to take the pressure off and eliminate the distractions of home was to book a hotel about 10 minutes from the race site.  I used the evening at the hotel to relax pool-side for a bit, read a magazine (what a luxury) and made friends with a little fourth-grade girl who was swimming.  Later I found a Thai restaurant for dinner–half wondering if Pad Thai was going to agree with me for a pre-race dinner (it was fine) and talked to my brother on the phone.  Then early to bed at 9:30; I had an amazing slumber.  So when my alarm went off at 4:30 the morning of August 17, I popped out of bed ready to go–it was time for my redemption race!

IronGirl MorningRace morning had the perfect amount of pre-race chill in the air.  I got a good parking spot and made my way down to the transition area to set up all my gear.  IronGirl Race MorningAfter a little bit of time there and with body marking complete I took one last pit stop and made my way over to the swim start area.

Early morning race sunrise (photo courtesy: Nicole Tidwell)

Early morning race sunrise (photo courtesy: Nicole Tidwell)

In a sea of strangers it’s pretty amazing that I spotted a former co-worker.  We chatted for a bit (she was out to cheer on her neighbor) and then I found my friend Nicole who told me she was planning to come cheer me on!

Showing the guns (Photo courtesy: Nicole Tidwell)

Showing the guns (photo courtesy: Nicole Tidwell)

After a bit of waiting around it was finally time for my age group to head into the water.  The unique thing about this race was that they sent us into the water as pairs to help with the spacing.

Getting ready for the swim (photo courtesy: Nicole Tidwell)

Getting ready for the swim (photo courtesy: Nicole Tidwell)

The water was probably in the low 70’s and felt good.  Once I was a little ways past the first buoy I got into a little bit of a stride, but there were so many women out there swimming that my hand every now and then would graze someone’s foot or vice versa.

Heading in to the lake (photo courtesy: Nicole Tidwell)

Heading in to the lake (photo courtesy: Nicole Tidwell)

Every time this happened I had to get out of the crawl stroke and begin breaststroke or side stroke for a bit.  But it was progress–the head games of swimming were not in play and I knew I could finish this race with confidence. [SWIM TIME: 32:46; 3:17/100 m; 0.62 mile]

All smiles finishing my swim (photo courtesy: Nicole Tidwell)

All smiles finishing my swim (photo courtesy: Nicole Tidwell)

[TRANSITION 1: 2 MINUTES]

Next up–the bike.  Overall it was a good, but tough course.  Unlike the 12-mile flat beach course, this one was 16 miles filled with a lot of hills.  I would estimate that over half the course was on an uphill trajectory.  One time my gears were not shifting properly and I had to get off the bike and walk it up a hill. But the rest I made.  It was the portion of the entire race where people talk to one another–women are chatty!  One gal was singing (when we made it to a downhill shady street) and we kept playing a game of pass and be passed.  She yelled out to me at once point that I was probably tired of hearing her singing!  I had to chuckle–it made the race more fun in my opinion!  Upon reaching the top of one hill I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was–wish I had my camera–the overlook of a huge farm field was stunning and gave me  an opportunity to enjoy the moment and relish in God’s handiwork of our beautiful country.

IronGirl transitionI worked hard for those 16 miles and finally was inching closer to the transition area.  The run was next and this was my strength–after coming off the Lost Dog 5K series where I did really well I was ready to test my speed in the last leg of the tri.  [BIKE TIME: 1:12:32; 13.24 mph; 16 miles]

[TRANSITION 2: 2 MINUTES]

It’s run time!  After making my way out of transition (this time remembering to take off my helmet!) I was off for the run.  The race course was along a wooded trail that looped its way up and around the lake.  At the very Irongirl Run coursebeginning of the race there was a group of middle-aged shirtless men running.  I’m thinking “don’t they know a race was going on right now?”  But it was a bit of a spectacle as one of the volunteers was yelling out “oh, hey guys!”  I blew by them which made me laugh even more that I was still faster than them and all they were doing that morning was running.  At about the 1.5 mile mark the trail went uphill for a bit and they called it Gatorade Hill–yep you IronGirl post raceguessed it Gatorade was waiting for us at the top!  IronGirl finish lineAt least I knew we’d have to come back down–the ladies coming down looked much happier than those of us who were going up!  I was enjoying the run and getting into my stride and as the trail curved around the lake I knew that the finish was in sight.  I felt strong and knew that my time would reflect that work. [RUN TIME: 29:27; 8:37/mile; 3.42 miles]

IronGirl 13TOTAL TIME: 2:18:45

This race was a great one–I recommend it for any ladies who are interested in doing a race in an encouraging environment to do this one.  It was just what I needed to boost my self-confidence again and prove that we can accomplish anything with the right attitude and perseverance.  I’m already brainstorming ideas for what I want to accomplish next year–at least an Olympic triathlon; maybe a half Ironman race.

Post-race with my friend Nicole

Post-race with my friend Nicole

Thanks to my buddy Nicole for coming out and cheering me on and taking pictures!  It meant so much having a friend out there supporting me. iron Girl funny

Since then I’m continuing to swim at the local high school pool–it has really been a great form of exercise for me and I want to continue getting better and better so that hopefully one day I’ll be able to tackle that crazy ocean swim.

 

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Labor Day Beach Run

Happy Labor Day!  This day always comes with mixed emotion–the unofficial end of summer (sniffle) and the start of new beginnings (clean slate like New Year’s!). To kick off the day I went for a run at the beach.  Labor Day 1I was visiting family in Delaware so my dad and I went down early to beat the traffic.  He walked the boardwalk while I ran the beach and here are some photos I snapped along the way.  Labor Day 2

Labor Day 3I love running early because it seems like the true adventurers are out taking on the day.  I saw four people swimming laps in the placid ocean, people playing with their dogs by the water’s edge, a yoga class, some paddleboarders and a lone kayaker who was being followed by a couple of porpoises. 

Labor Day 4

One of the paddleboarders paddled out to the kayaker to get a better look.  I always love to see how nature and man are able to coexist so peacefully and was a bit envious that I wasn’t out on the water. 

Labor Day 5Toward the end of the run, I took off my shoes and socks and stood there for about 10 minutes letting the sand take my feet deeper as the waves crashed upon my legs.  I splashed my face with the salt water, breathed a few deep breaths and thanked God for the gift of life provided today! 

Despite the stresses that life can bring us it really is a good one and getting back to the sea and its constant rhythm always reminds me of that blessing.Labor Day 6

 

   

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Who Let The Dogs Out?

One of the best ways to measure improvement in speed is to run the same race again and again and again and again.  The Pacer’s Lost Dog 5K Series helped me do exactly just that this August.  race bib Lost DogI blogged about this race last year and was very excited that I would be able to make all four races this year–every Friday at 6:30 pm in Arlington, VA. Run Washington Truck

Here are the highlights:

Week One:  Our group that ran last year was reunited!  lost dog 5K group shot 2014My friends Nicole and Omar, Nancy and Eric, and Nicole all were there and were pumped to have some good and funLost Dog 5K race 1 2014 races, play with cute puppies, and complete the evening with dinner and drinks at the Stray Cats Café. This week I decided to enjoy the race and not go for speed.

FINISH TIME: 25:48 (8:18 pace, 6th place out of 61 runners in age group, 53rd place out of 228 runners)

Lost Dog 5K 3Week Two: My parents were in town this weekend and came out to cheer us on!  It was fun to have them meet some of my run buds (and they took some great pictures).  Lost Dog 5K 19Well the stars must have been aligned that night and I ran my fastest 5K time ever (topping my best 5K from last year’s Sallyann with puppy Lost Dog 5Kseries).  Sallyann Lost Dog 5K crossing finish lineI felt strong on the run and for the first time ever in a race I won a prize!  I received the Top Finisher award for my age group (30-39 year old women).  Lost Dog 5K 24Luckily the overall female finisher (each week she won no less) was in my age group, but since prizes went one deep I got to claim the Top Finisher award. Sallyann Lost Dog 5K win It was pretty funny when my name was called because my friends and family let out a huge cheer. I felt like quite the celebrity!  Sallyann post-Lost Dog

FINISH TIME: 22:14 (7:19 pace, 2nd place out of 52 runners in age group, 16th place out of 180 runners overall)

Week Three:  Thoughts were going through my head before this race–Do I try to reclaim victory or just run?Lost Dog 5K Race 3 2014  I knew that my triathlon was on Sunday (more to come soon on that race) so part of me felt like I should reserve some speed for that morning.  But my competitive spirit got the better of me (and my friends literally pushed me to the front of the start line).  So I guess I should try to best myself.  Soon enough we were off.  Lost Dog 34For most of the race I stayed close to one woman and before the halfway point I passed her on the trail.  As we made the loop back I saw my friends and they yelled to keep up the good work. I was in third place so far for the females.  I was going fast, probably too fast for my own good, and the woman I passed earlier caught me on the last quarter-mile.  The finish line was in sight, but I didn’t have the stamina to kick it into high gear so I had to settle for fourth overall woman.  As soon as I crossed the finish and grabbed a bottle of water I had to sit down for a minute or two.  Lost Dog 5K race 3 2014 NicoleWhew I don’t think I had ever run that fast in my life!  Finisher towlI went to check my finish time and I beat my time from the week before!  New PR and despite getting passed at the end I still won my age group!  Two in a row–I couldn’t believe it!

FINISH TIME: 22:18 (7:11 pace, 2nd place out of 58 runners in age group, 20th place out of 175 runners overall)

Week Four: Lost Dog 33 It’s the last race!  The hottest evening of all the races and I could tell that none of us were much in the mood for running!  I still managed to creep up to the front of the start line.  Someone was snapping pictures of all the “elites” in front of me.  Lost Dog 5K 17I quote elites because this race is really more like a community run and those who win, while incredibly fast, would most likely not win a race of much larger proportion.  Maybe I’m just speaking for myself–haha—I would NOT win a race of much larger proportion!  lost Dog 5K 32Smaller races give you a chance to shine and in my mind the overall top finishers were very much elite runners. So photos were being snapped and I felt a bit like an imposter standing there in their shadows.  Lost Dog 5K 33Nonetheless, it was time to run a race!  The horn was blown and we were off!  I started off strong and was very much toward the front of the pack, but at about the halfway point I knew I wasn’t going to get a prize this week (sad face).  Too many women were passing me and a lot of them looked like they were in my age group!  So I decided it was time to just finish the race strong and enjoy this last end of summer run, sweaty and happy!

FINISH TIME: 23:25 (7:32 pace, 4th place out of 35 runners in age group, 19th place out of 144 runners overall)

Lost Dog 5K 10Lost Dog 5K 9Like I said at the beginning the only way to truly know how your speed is improving is to measure yourself over the same distance, and a race like this is a great way to see how far you’ve come and to challenge yourself week after week!  Since I ran all four races here are my overall stats:

TOTAL FINISH TIME LOST DOG 2014: 1:34:13 (10th place out of 58 runners overall)

Lost Dog 28Winning races is fun and beating your personal record is always a pretty awesome feeling (especially as we get older!).  But I’ve also realized that those feelings are only fleeting and that keeping humble is important, otherwise we are never going to enjoy the journey it took to get there.  I’ll leave my readers with these words to live by:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.

-Philippians 2:3 NIV

Lost Dog 5K 35

Photo credits for most photos on this post go to my stepdad, Frank Hoerst!

See ya’ll next year!  Maybe, just maybe, next year I’ll have a pup to pull me along!

Lost Dog 5K 20Lost dog 5K 1 Lost Dog 5K 16Lost Dog 32Lost Dog 30Lost Dog 5K 11Lost Dog 5K 27 Lost Dog 5K 28Lost Dog 5K 5

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Batter Up!

As part of the Baseball Fanatics campaign I’ve been asked to share a favorite baseball story with my readers!  While this is a little different than my typical blog adventures on running, I have had fun reminiscing about the days on the field.  And as we soon are heading into playoff season you should consider ordering some of your favorite baseball apparel on the Fanatics site–they have some pretty awesome vintage items available which brought back some memories of my favorite team, the Philadelphia Phillies–plus the site name is so close to the Philly Phanatic in name, how could you not love it! 

Batter Up!  Ask anyone in America what those two words mean and you are certain to hear baseball and America’s favorite pastime. And if you ever played the sport growing up those words have even more meaning.  From being on deck to walking over to the batter’s box, there’s only one thing going through every batter’s mind–Don’t strike out!

I played softball from third grade through my sophomore year of high school.  And even though many years have passed since those Little League days, I still remember those games like they were yesterday.  I may have grown up over the years—from Russell’s Little Foxes, to Bud’s Market, to the Tri-County Oilers, and the Woodstown Woodies, and later the AAMC Scrubs and First Baptist Bombers–but no matter what age I was playing this sport, I always wanted to catch the ball, hit the ball and get on base.  Those years on the field were a time of growing up and learning how to be a strong woman who can play well with others and prove that size and strength are not all that matter in this game. 

One particular memory I have is from my freshmen year of high school.  We were quite the rag-a-tag bunch of gals.  Many never played before and as for those that did, well we weren’t asked to play on the JV or Varsity squad.  And that was fine by me, because if I was moved up I would have never tried my hand at pitching!  All the pitchers were taken from us, so we were left with no experience for that position.  One day coach lined us up and we each had to pitch 10 balls to her.  Two of us were chosen to be the season’s pitcher based on accuracy. One of those pitchers was me. 

That season had a lot of ups and downs.  One day coach got so frustrated with us (a few girls just couldn’t get along) and left the practice telling us that we were not to leave the field until we worked out our issues!  To this day, I don’t even know what the problem actually was, but somehow we ended up gelling as a group better after that discussion. 

We lived for away games because we rode the bus with the freshmen boys.  And after those games ended we usually ran the bases a few times to “practice” our base sliding.  In reality, we were just getting our pants dirty because we thought it would impress the boys and make them think that we had a really hard game!  Haha!  Looking back they probably didn’t even blink an eye at our antics. 

One such away game we found that we had no umpires.  We warmed up and still no one showed.  Apparently the freshmen girls game got the short straw that day.  Finally it came time either to call the game a forfeit or find someone to step in.  My stepdad took the challenge and stepped down from the bleachers.  “Ok, ladies,” he said.  “We are going to play a good game and by my rules. Everyone is going to hustle on and off the field between innings.”

I played pitcher and second base that day and I remember one of the girls didn’t want to run—well that was not going to happen under his rules!  Forty-five minutes later the game was over.  While I don’t remember whether we won or lost that day, I do remember how much fun we had!  Everyone on both sides was smiling and all the parents told my stepdad that he can come and umpire any time he wants.  He not only called the plays at home plate, but also every play in the field.  I have to think that he got this baseball know-how from his dad who was a Philadelphia Phillies pitcher back in the 1940’s. That season was a lot of fun and brings a smile to my face when I think about the hilarity of a team that we were.

The Woodstown "Woodies"--circa 1996

The Woodstown Woodies –circa 1996

Baseball is America’s pastime.  Whether you have attended a World Series game as I have (1995 Philadelphia series against Toronto–sadly Philly lost) or play in an adult league today, I believe that the sport has nothing to do with brute strength, but rather finely honed skills, thinking and communication.  Over the years it has taught me a lot about teamwork and individual dedication–skills that have come in handy in other aspects of my life as well.  So get out there–play a game, throw a ball with your kid or go to a game to cheer on your favorite team!  You never know what new memories you might make today!

 

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